It’s NFP Awareness Week. Perhaps you aren’t aware of NFP at all. You should be. It’s the first line of recourse for infertility, and among the most effective. For avoiding pregnancy, it’s pretty simple: 100% of contraceptive failures occur on days when you’re fertile. If you are serious about not getting pregnant, you’re pretty much asking for a wiggly, cuddly little surprise if you insist on ignoring your fertility and just hoping the factory did a bang-up job with your particular box of Nature Be Gone.
The moral: When you need NFP, it’s the one thing you really need, and you need it now. Hence my Tip #3 for maximizing NFP happiness, elaborated upon below. The other two tips so far in the series:
Tip#1 – Learn from a real live human.
Tip #2: If at first you don’t succeed, learn another method.
FYI – The book you want on NFP, in addition to your how-to tutorials, is Simcha Fisher’s excellent The Sinner’s Guide to NFP. Simcha’s hosting a giant giveway this week with very many cool prizes, some of them directly related to NFP (ex: fertility monitors), some only indirectly related (ex: my book), and some particularly suited to those who’d rather forget NFP altogether.
My Number Three Most Important Tip for Successful NFP: Learn It Before You Need It.
Think of NFP like health insurance: You don’t want to be looking for it when you need it. You want to have it already on hand, ready to be put to use.
If you are trying to conceive: There’s this point in the marriage where you transition from “trying to whatever” to “we’d like to conceive a baby this month, please, thank you.” And once you get on that we’re-ready-for-a-baby-now train, every month you don’t conceive is agony. You can choose to go through those early months of budding desperation blissfully unaware of whether or not you’re even having sex at a time when you could conceive . . . or you could learn NFP. You can choose to show up at the doctor’s office six or twelve months into your effort to conceive and have your OB say, “Well, um, have you tried doing it on the right day of the month?” . . . or you could learn NFP.
(Even worse: Landing with an OB who doesn’t even care what your days of fertility are, and just goes straight to the big guns, for a problem that might could have been solved by having sex a few days earlier or later one cycle.)
What you really want, when you see your physician for help conceiving, is a record of your cycles. “I get a period every four to six weeks” is not a record. That’s like a teenager saying, “Yeah, I did some homework.” Your NFP charts contain the clues your doctor needs to know where to begin with solving the underlying problem that is preventing you from conceiving.
So don’t cheat yourself. Don’t deny yourself the one tool you need most. Learn NFP before you get married. When you begin to think about trying to conceive, go ahead and start charting.
If you suddenly need to avoid pregnancy: Things are not good. People don’t go from, “We’re happy with however many children God sends us,” to “I have serious reasons to avoid pregnancy” unless something big has changed in their life. For the worse.
So ask yourself: Will it be easier on my marriage, my family relationships, and my stress level to have to abstain 100% of the time while mastering a new and attention-requiring skill . . . just when my life is at its peak craziness?
I answer for you: No.
Learn NFP when you don’t need NFP. It’s a useful life skill, like knowing how to change a tire or tread water. Don’t wait until you’re stranded to learn.
If there’s not a place to learn NFP in your corner of the planet, here’s the USCCB’s directory of teacher-training programs. You can make this happen.