Today I’m going to talk about a topic that is very near and dear to my heart: Natural Family Planning. I will be speaking about why it’s beneficial for single women to learn. I want y’all to know that I will be extremely vague in respects to the particulars of NFP, so that no one will feel embarrassed, awkward, or go “stop—TMI!”
For many Catholic engaged couples, there are a few things that must be done, depending on what diocese the couple is in: a pre-marriage inventory, an Engaged Encounter or Pre-Cana classes, and NFP classes. Many couples, when they practice responsible parenthood, talk about how they use NFP to avoid conceiving a child. However, these types of statements do not fully encompass what NFP actually is. These kinds of statements actually refer to periodic continence. Periodic continence is the virtue and act of a couple abstaining during times of the woman’s cycle to avoid the conception of a child. When doing periodic continence, many couples use NFP to figure out when the woman’s fertile times of the month are. St. John Paul II has written many epic things about periodic continence, and I’ll probably blog about it sometime. But for now, I’m talking about NFP. More specifically, why NFP is awesome for single women. To understand this, let’s look at what NFP is. According to The Art of Natural Family Planning Student Guide, “Natural Family Planning is fertility awareness, the knowledge of a couple’s fertility; it is a means of reading the body’s signs of fertility and infertility.”
When my fiancé and I first started attending NFP classes early in our engagement, I was blown away by all of the epicness that was taking place in my body throughout the month. Discovering how God wired my body was amazing! I learned why I would feel different sensations throughout the month, and I would be able to have a good idea—in advance—of when certain parts of my fertility cycle would happen. Whether you use Creighton, Marquette, or Sympto-Thermal, to name a few, the woman/engaged couple is learning about the woman’s monthly fertility. How awesome is that????
It seems that NFP classes are always centered around engaged or married couples. And while it obviously is very important for these two groups to know in depth, what about the single women? I mean, is there anything about knowing your fertility that should be restricted to engagement or marriage? If you are a single woman, isn’t it good to know what your body is doing every month? When I started learning NFP, I often thought, Man, I totally could have been doing this for at least the last year of my life. Let’s be honest: When a woman gets engaged, life is crazy and exciting and her fertility signs can go whacko because of added stress or excitement. Thus, at times, charts come up inconsistent and weird. Why not start charting when life is somewhat normal and uneventful—thus giving you an opportunity to really learn about how your body works?
There are some awesome resources about NFP out there. I’m extremely partial to the Sympto-Thermal Method (because it involves monitoring three fertility signs, where most other methods I’ve seen only look at one or two) so I recommend checking out the Couple to Couple League for information about that. Also, Haley Stewart has a series about NFP on her blog, in which various women talk about the methods of NFP that they use and testify to the awesomeness of NFP in their married lives. I encourage reading, reading, and more reading!
Finally, I highly encourage talking with friends who use NFP about it. In the year 2014, I was approached by several women—engaged and single—who all wanted to know more about NFP and my experiences with it. When I would get an NFP-related Facebook message, I would usually smile to myself and think, My poor, dear friend is going to get more than she bargained for…and proceed to type of several paragraphs about NFP in general and my experiences with the Sympto-Thermal Method. Yes, you may feel a little weird asking a friend about NFP, and that's okay. Talk with people you are comfortable with. Ask someone you trust and are close to, or find out who the local NFP teachers are (you may want to call your parish office to ask if they know) and ask them! Our NFP teachers are awesome, and even though they have eight kids and life is busy, they make themselves available to talk with us whenever we need to about anything. If any of you have questions, feel free to contact me using the message form here on the blog, via Facebook, or in person.
Ladies, do not be afraid to learn about the epic body that God has given you!