My husband and I have been married for 9 years. Throughout much of our marriage, we utilized various forms of contraceptives, yet none seemed to suit us. So, about 4 years ago, we looked into Natural Family Planning (NFP). This method, also known as fertility awareness, involves tracking your cycle and using your body’s cues to determine the time of the month during which you’re ovulating and therefore most fertile. On those days, you abstain from sex.
It’s Not Religious
I grew up in Catholic school where I was taught that NFP was the acceptable method of pregnancy prevention in the Catholic Church. I knew very large Catholic families who utilized this method, and consequently, I assumed that it wasn’t an effective form of birth control. But, the more I looked into it, the more I realized it could work for our family. Our reasons aren’t rooted in our religion or morality; we simply don’t like the other methods available.
Why No Hormones?
I tried a few different pills. I didn’t like having to remember to take them at the same time daily. I tried the patch, but toward the end of the week, it would get loose and start to peel, which made me nervous. I tried the ring, which I was okay with until I got an infection and then decided that I didn’t want anything up there for a prolonged amount of time. But, all of those hormonal methods had something in common that I was absolutely unwilling to tolerate: it seemed every method significantly decreased my sex drive. If I didn’t have a sex drive, was there even a point to me using hormonal contraceptives? I know there are other hormonal methods, such as injections, implants, and IUDs, but frankly, I’m not willing to go with something as invasive as those options.
Why Not Condoms?
I’ll just get straight to the point with this one. We don’t like the decreased sensation. Yes, we’ve tried ultra thin. We’ve used fun colors, flavors, and textures. I hate the smell of latex. Yes, I’ve tried the polyisoprene ones. No, we didn’t enjoy those either. No, we haven’t tried the lambskin ones, but I don’t like the idea of a drawstring closure (yes, you read that right. Google it. You’re welcome). So to sum up, we just don’t want to.
It took a while for me to get used to the tracking and getting to know my body, but I did get used to it, and eventually, I got really good at it. Now it’s just habit, something I do with ease. Sometimes I do feel like it would be easier to simply take a pill or for my husband to wear a condom, but I also feel like NFP is something we’ve made work for us so far. It may not be something we use forever; when we determine we are officially finished expanding our family, we may look at a more permanent option, but for now, NFP checks all of our boxes. Sex is frequent and enjoyable, and so far, this method has not resulted in any unplanned pregnancies. Family planning is a very personal decision, and I’m glad we’ve found the method that supports the unique needs of our family.