Natural Family Planning: Theology of the Body in Action
To many people, the phrase “Natural Family Planning” brings to mind the archaic and inaccurate methods of determining fertility, such as the rhythm method. Significant research has resulted in a complete reworking of the old methods into a combination of rules that have yielded a 99.9% rate of effectiveness when followed correctly.
As a volunteer Teaching Couple trained and certified through the Couple to Couple League, we present the Sympto-Thermal Method of Natural Family Planning. In this modern method, husbands and wives practice fertility awareness by charting and interpreting the daily-observed universal signs of fertility. Previous cycle history is also incorporated in this method. Natural Family Planning can be used to achieve or postpone pregnancy throughout all fertile years, including postpartum times and premenopause. Women with irregular and long cycles can also employ this method. Recently, some doctors versed in Natural Family Planning have been able to make reproductive health diagnoses with the observations charted by their patients.
The Couple to Couple League’s class series model consists of three monthly classes, approximately two and one half hous in length. During each monthly session the science, theology and particular details of the Sympto-Thermal Method of Natural Family Planning are explained. Elective classes for postpartum and premenopause, in addition to update classes for couples who learned Natural Family Planning many years ago, are offered frequently. Answers to individual questions and chart interpretations are also available on a consultation basis. Taught in the context of the Theology of the Body, and its exhortation to love divinely as God loves, Natural Family Planning respects the innate dignity of both spouses by encouraging the complete acceptance of each other - including their fertility - as “one flesh.”
Couples who live out Natural Family Planning have reported numerous benefits including: stronger marriages, better communication between spouses, and a monthly ”second honeymoon” period following times of abstinence. The Sympto-Thermal Method of Natural Family Planning is also less costly, more effective and because it is 100% natural, lacks all of the unpleasant side effects contributed to other readily available methods of family planning. Finally, in situations where pregnancy is intended, Natural Family Planning is instantly reversible and can be utilized to aid conception.
Unlike other methods of family planning, Natural Family Planning is morally and ethically acceptable in the eyes of the Catholic Church. In his Letter to Teachers of Natural Family Planning, Pope John Paul II states that Natural Family Planning “supports the process of freedom and emancipation of women and peoples from unjust family planning programs which bring in their sad wake the various forms of contraception, abortion and sterilization.” With this freedom, Natural Family Planning fosters a shared responsibility between spouses regarding the spacing of their children and family size. This virtuous application of each couple’s fertility knowledge is “Responsible Parenthood.”
For more information or to sign up for an upcoming class series visit the Couple to Couple Leagues website at www.ccli.org.