I am a fertility educator and natural family planning (NFP) instructor. Looking back, I never would have imagined developing such a passion for women’s menstrual cycles. It’s kind of a strange thing to be interested in, much less to devote so much time and energy to. On nearly a daily basis I am either writing or talking to someone about their periods, cervical mucus, or sexual behavior. So how did I get here?
It started when I was 20 years old and got engaged to my husband. We didn’t want kids right away but I was afraid of the side effects of hormonal contraception, so we decided we’d better try to learn a natural method before getting married. I read as many books on fertility awareness as I could get my hands on, and we took a class together at a local Catholic church. From the very beginning we were impressed by the ease and logic of natural family planning, as well as the extensive research behind it. We had no doubt that we’d be successful at both preventing and achieving pregnancy when we desired, and we were right!
Inspired by our success, I became determined to share my knowledge with others. I couldn’t believe that more people weren’t using this method, and that there was so much misinformation out there about NFP. I trained through Northwest Family Services’ SymptoPro certification program, and shortly afterwards I started Wellspring Fertility Education. I’ve been teaching women and couples how to use NFP ever since.
So what exactly is it about NFP that I find so incredible?
The obvious answers are its complete lack of side effects, its high effectiveness, and the flexibility in switching between trying to avoid pregnancy, trying to conceive and back again. I love that it can be used while breastfeeding without fearing its effects on milk, and it can actually be used to help navigate confusing postpartum cycles (or lack thereof). I love that women with irregular cycles can use it successfully. I’m also thankful for NFP’s potential as a tool to manage health issues, as this has already been useful in my own life.
But the part of natural family planning that excites and inspires me the most is less tangible. I simply love the way that using NFP makes me feel.
The total freedom from artificial chemicals or devices.
The connection I feel with my own emotional and biological rhythms.
The feeling of sisterhood with all women that comes from understanding our uniquely beautiful design.
The way that it helps my husband to understand me better, and encourages us to communicate on a deeper level.
The closeness and camaraderie we feel knowing that we share in the great joy and responsibility of our joint fertility.
I wish every woman knew that her menstrual cycle was more than just a period. I wish every teenage girl was told that her fertility signs can show her if her hormones are balanced, if she has nutritional or vitamin deficiencies, or if she’s sick. I wish that every couple who wished to postpone pregnancy knew that they don’t have to fumble with barriers or chemically castrate themselves in order to do so. I wish that they knew that natural family planning is 99+% effective at preventing pregnancy and enormously helpful for getting pregnant with the time comes.
And this is why I became an NFP instructor. I don’t think NFP should be a specialized skill known only by religious minorities or crunchy flower children. I would love to see every woman and couple empowered with this incredible yet simple information that has been so life-changing for me. Fertility awareness has profoundly impacted my understanding of femininity, human sexuality, and marriage, and I believe it can do the same for you.
Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos/nenetus