NFP helped me plan for a family, not just postpone one

No one likes to hear about their ‘biological clock,’ but the reality for women is that our fertility is a gift with an expiration date.

Suprijono Suharjoto | Stocksy United

With recent news surrounding the negative side-effects of artificial methods of birth control, more women are considering natural family planning (NFP) as a way to postpone pregnancy, side-effect free. But, beyond prevention, there’s another side to NFP that makes it an even more valuable tool for a woman to acquire: its ability to help couples conceive.

For over a year, my husband and I were among the millions of American couples who struggle or have struggled with subfertility and infertility. With the help of NFP and Natural Procreative Technology (“NaPro Technology”), we are finally experiencing a healthy pregnancy, and happily expecting this little one’s arrival in March 2017.

MORE TO READ: How Natural Family Planning can strengthen your marriage

So what is NaPro, and what is it about NFP that helps couples conceive in half the amount of time it can take other (non-NFP using) couples? NFP teaches a woman to read her body’s natural signs of fertility, allowing her to determine which stage of her menstrual cycle she’s experiencing. With the ability to accurately pinpoint the fertile days in each cycle, 98% of NFP-using couples under age 35 who are having targeted intercourse will achieve pregnancy in 6 months or less; for couples under 35 having sex “randomly,” it will take a full year or more for 90% of them to achieve pregnancy. This gives couples using NFP a distinct advantage when it comes to achieving pregnancy, and also for getting help earlier if conception doesn’t occur within 6 months; that’s where NaPro Technology comes in!

With all of the knowledge a woman gains through NFP about her fertility, she is much better prepared to achieve pregnancy than her pill or IUD-using friend.”

While most doctors won’t start treating a woman under 35 for infertility until she has failed to conceive for 12 months, a NaPro-trained doctor will treat the same woman after only 6 months—provided she’s been using NFP, and has been tracking her fertility. NaPro doctors are uniquely trained to take the wealth of information a NFP-using woman has about her fertility, and use that information to diagnose and treat any underlying causes of infertility. Rather than “forcing” pregnancy through artificial reproductive technologies (ARTs) like in-vitro fertilization (IVF) or intrauterine insemination (IUI), NaPro technology works with the symphony of a woman’s menstrual cycle to pinpoint and fine-tune the “wrong notes,” so that she can achieve a pregnancy naturally. Evidence even suggests that NaPro is a far more effective, ethical method of helping infertile couples achieve pregnancy than ARTs are–and NaPro is much less expensive than a round of IVF.

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My current pregnancy is personal proof-positive of the ability of NaPro to successfully treat infertility. At around 6 months of unsuccessfully trying to get pregnant (and over a year of charting my fertility with NFP), I had asked my doctor to refer me to a NaPro-trained physician; she herself was untrained in both NFP and NaPro Technology, and would not refer me for infertility care, since I hadn’t yet reached the 12-month mark of trying. Fortunately, we moved to Guam shortly thereafter, where I was assigned a family medicine doctor trained in NFP and familiar with NaPro science and techniques. After 6 months of supplementing with various vitamins geared to support a woman’s cycle, implementing various lifestyle modifications, and undergoing 3 months of progesterone support geared at correcting some underlying hormonal deficiencies (a hallmark of NaPro therapy), I not only felt healthier, but we also finally achieved our first pregnancy in late March 2016, after nearly 15 months of trying to conceive.

Although we tragically lost that first pregnancy, my husband and I remained confident that we would never have conceived our first child without the NaPro treatment I received. Although other physicians were encouraging us to look into ARTs, we knew that we were on the right path using NaPro to build our family. Fortunately, we had the opportunity to visit a formally NaPro-trained physician stateside shortly after our miscarriage. This new physician was impressed with the work my doctor on Guam had done in improving my fertility—evidence of which he could clearly see in my series of monthly charts. Shortly thereafter, we found ourselves expecting again in early July 2016–all thanks to charting with NFP and the NaPro treatment we received.

No one likes to hear about their “biological clock,” but the reality for women is that our fertility is a gift with an expiration date. Unlike the birth control pill or IUD, which work to suppress a woman’s natural cycle, NFP works with a woman’s natural fertility to help her plan her family. With all of the knowledge a woman gains through NFP about her fertility while postponing a pregnancy, I believe she is much better prepared than her pill or IUD-using friend when she begins attempting to achieve pregnancy rather than prevent it. She also has the resources necessary to get help sooner if it looks like things aren’t as they should be, which is a great comfort when a couple is longing so deeply—as my husband and I were—for the precious gift of a child.

Grace Stark
Grace Stark
Grace is a freelance writer with a specialty in bioethics whose work has been featured on the Public Discourse, Aleteia, the Daily Signal, the Federalist, RedState, and the Marianas Business Journal. In her free time, Grace enjoys cooking, baking, teaching her friends' kids to swim, and (happy) crying over news stories featuring old people who have been married for forever. She and her husband are both certified Natural Family Planning instructors who live on Guam, and they are currently expecting their first child in March 2017.

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