NFP vs. Contraception

1. MYTH: When trying to avoid pregnancy, contraception is more effective than using Natural Family Planning.

FACT: Evidenced-based studies have shown that the three methods of NFP (Symptothermal, Billings and Creighton), are at least 97-99% effective per year when the rules are followed to avoid pregnancy. That compares favourably with most methods of contraception.

2. MYTH: NFP is the same thing as the Rhythm Method; it doesn't work.

FACT: The contemporary evidence-based methods do not rely on regular cycles, instead they are based on the woman identifying and interpreting signs and symptoms of infertility, the potentially fertile window and ovulation during the cycle, no matter how irregular.

The Rhythm Method was a primitive form of calendar calculations which assumed that all women ovulated on Day 14 and had 28 day cycles. Thousands and thousands of cycles have shown this to be inaccurate, hence its failure rate.

3. MYTH: NFP has a lower continuation rate than contraceptive methods of birth control.

FACT: NFP methods have a higher continuation rate than any form of reversible contraception.

Annual continuation rate1 of:

Spermicides 42%
Condoms 53%
Diaphragm 57%
The Pill 68%

Annual continuation rate of main forms of NFP:

Symptothermal Method2 92.5%
The Billings Ovulation Method3 99.5%
Creighton Model4 89%

4. MYTH: There is no difference between the relationships or the divorce rate of couples using contraception and those practising Natural Family Planning (NFP).

FACT: At present the divorce rate in Australia is about 40%5

Studies of couples who use the STM of NFP have shown that it is a well-accepted approach to family planning across several Western cultures. It is consistently viewed as being beneficial to couples’ self-knowledge, their relationship, and satisfaction with frequency of sexual intercourseand have shown a divorce rate between 0.2 and 3%.7

It is interesting to note that Catholics who don't use NFP have divorce rates8 similar to those of the general population....

The low divorce rate may be due to a higher motivation and commitment on the part of couples who choose an abstinence method, but it may also be due to the effect of abstinence in each cycle keeping the couple interested in each other and developing ways of expressing love not dependent on sexual intimacy. It may also be due to the fact that the method of family planning is a shared responsibility. In contraceptive methods, often the female partner takes sole responsibility and she also bears the burden of any adverse health effects, including effects on libido.

Some women complain that when on contraception their sense of self worth is diminished9 and their need for space is not provided for. The understanding that they are constantly available may cause resentment and a feeling of being used. The responsibility of parenthood having been removed through contraception, sexual self control is not as necessary and self-centredness may be more likely.

5. MYTH: Natural Family Planning (NFP) is just another form of contraception.

FACT: NFP is not contraception.

Contraception involves an intervention in either the body or the act itself to prevent an act of sexual intimacy resulting in fertilization.

NFP involves abstaining when an act of love might result in fertilization. There is no obligation to express love in sexual intimacy and responsibly spacing children is a reason not to do so at a potentially fertile time. In doing so the couple can seek to preserve the full meaning of their love at other times knowing that they have done nothing to interfere with their procreative health or the act itself.

1)  R.A. Hatcher, et al., Contraceptive Technology, Nineteenth Revised Edition, New York: Ardent Media, 2007
2)  Fertility Awareness-Based Family Planning by Stephen R. Pallone, MD and George R.Bergus, MD. Journal of American Board of Family Medicine. 22(2):148-149, 8th Sept.2008
3)   Ibid.
4) Thomas Hilgers, et al., "Creighton Model NaPro Education Technology for Avoiding Pregnancy. Use Effectiveness," The Journal of Reproductive Medicine, 43:6 (June 1998), 495–502.
5) Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2007
7)  - What's Wrong with Contraception? (Cincinnati, Ohio: The Couple to Couple League International); Mercedes Arzú Wilson, "The Practice of Natural Family Planning Versus the Use of Artificial Birth Control: Family, Sexual, and Moral Issues," Catholic Social Science Review 7 (November 2002).
- Christopher West, "Good News about Sex and Marriage" (Ann Arbor, Michigan:Servant Publications, 2000,) 179
-Pallone, Steven MD and Bergus, George. MD. Fertility Awareness-Based Methods: another option for family planning. From the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine p. 150
8)  Fertility Awareness-Based Family Planning by Stephen R. Pallone, MD and George R.Bergus, MD. Journal of American Board of Family Medicine. 22(2):148-149, 8th Sept.2008 quoting Wilson, MA: The Practice of Natural Family Planning Versus the Use of Artificial Birth Control: Family, Sexual and Moral Issues. Catholic Social Science Review 2002;7
9)  Jason Evert:

Why NFP?