Families Local

NFP: An authentic language of a woman’s health and fertility

Natural family planning emphasizes “the role of sex in marriage, and the cooperation of husband and wife in procreation.”

by Meghan Ascher
Special to The Leaven

“I have met with couples of all faiths and backgrounds,” said Catie Klocke, a Creighton Model natural family planning (NFP) practitioner, “some who have found [natural family planning] as a last resort before IVF [in vitro fertilization].” 

“Being a witness of hope and options that can be life-giving is a blessing,” said the practitioner, who specializes in postpartum tracking.

The archdiocese asks every engaged couple to take an introductory NFP class as a part of their marriage preparation. Why? What is the importance of learning about one or more of the three main NFP methods the Creighton Model, the Marquette Method or the sympto-thermal method?

According to an OSV News article by reporter Gina Christian, “NFP emphasizes ‘the role of sex in marriage, and the cooperation of husband and wife in procreation.” 

Dr. Katie McAnany, clinical assistant professor of pediatrics at UMKC and Marquette Method instructor, agrees.

“God has written into a woman’s body such a beautiful rhythm. Unlocking its mysteries is one of the greatest joys I’ve been lucky to have as a doctor,” she said.

There is a learning curve with each method, and there are teachers/practitioners for individualized instruction for each one.

“All NFP methods,” Christian’s article goes on to say, “which unlike artificial contraceptives, can be used to either achieve or avoid pregnancy, focus on biomarkers indicating when the female body is most or least likely to conceive.”

Learning how to read these biomarkers and data points can take some time and effort, but gaining this knowledge empowers women and couples to intelligently and prayerfully participate in the Lord’s plan for their lives.

“Having information and data about what is happening in your body is one of the main benefits,” said Klocke.

While single women are welcomed by practitioners to learn NFP, couples are also encouraged to learn their chosen method together. When the husband grows to recognize the movement and rhythms of his spouse’s body, it can unlock for them a deeper intimacy within their marriage.

How are women and couples deciding which method to learn?

In addition to the introductory class, many start on the relevant page of the website of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, a resource for all the providers in the area.

“If they want to learn more, tell them to come talk to me” was the common response of interviewees. Providers are open and willing to share their knowledge because they believe so strongly in NFP.

The methods:

Creighton Model: Uses data drawn from cervical mucus and standardized charting to track a woman’s menstrual cycle and pinpoint ovulation.

The benefits: There are many doctors and teachers/practitioners within the archdiocese who can read these charts. It can help with infertility and hormone imbalances.

The drawbacks: Understanding how to read the mucus signs and then chart it correctly and objectively takes time. Klocke assures women learning this method that there is a significant amount of support.

“All of our meetings with clients are one-on-one to give them a personalized experience of charting. This means asking the question of each woman — ‘What are the challenges you are encountering?’ — and brainstorming ways to deal with those challenges,” Klocke said.

Marquette Method: Uses hormone test strips and a ClearBlue Fertility Monitor to track the menstrual cycle and pinpoint ovulation.

The benefits: “It is a great method for women with irregular cycles, medical conditions such as PCOS, thyroid issues or who are perimenopausal,” said McAnany. The test strips add another datapoint unavailable through other methods.

The drawbacks: “The disadvantages to Marquette,” said McAnany, “are the costs and difficulty finding an instructor. A monitor can cost $50-$140, and test strips are about $1 each. A woman might use 10-30 test strips per month, depending on where she is in her life cycle —  if she is in regular cycles or postpartum. These costs can be covered by insurance, an FSA account or some employers (such as the archdiocese) will reimburse a certain amount per year.”

Sympto-thermal: Cross-checks cervical mucus, the cervix and temperature reading to track the menstrual cycle and pinpoint ovulation.

The benefits: “We chose the [sympto- thermal method] because you have three different data points that you’re looking for and can cross-check,” said Alison Greenlief, who, along with her husband, is an instructor through the Couple to Couple League.

The drawbacks: Some women may find keeping track of multiple signs to be difficult. To get a consistent temperature reading, an individual needs to take the reading at the same time each day. However, there are products available to help with temperature tracking such as the Oura Ring which has a charting application approved by the FDA to help track ovulation. Women with thyroid issues would not be able to use this method.

For a list of all NFP practitioners in the area, go to the archdiocesan website at: www.archkck.org/NFP.

About the author

The Leaven

The Leaven is the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.

Leave a Comment