The Church’s view of marriage and family may be one of the most beautiful Catholic teachings. So much of our understanding of God is based on the marriage relationship.
The Catechism tells us, “The entire Christian life bears the mark of the spousal love of Christ and the Church” (1617). A Christian marriage can be a witness to the world of God’s covenant with his people.
Marriage is so important in Catholic theology that it’s no wonder we hold certain counter-cultural beliefs in a world where marriage increasingly is under attack. One of these is choosing not to use artificial contraception.
Practically speaking, what it looks like to reject artificial contraception is different for each couple. Some couples simply accept babies as they come.Others need to space the births of their children, or stop having children entirely. The Church supports these decisions made with wisdom and prudence:
With regard to physical, economic, psychological and social conditions, responsible parenthood is exercised by those who prudently and generously decide to have more children, and by those who, for serious reasons and with due respect to moral precepts, decide not to have additional children for either a certain or an indefinite period of time. (Humanae Vitae, 10)
Natural Family Planning (NFP) is an option for couples who need to regulate procreation. What is NFP, exactly? It means “periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods.” (2370)
And there is so much more to NFP than postponing or spacing out children. It’s a very important tool for women to understand their overall health. It is also an aid to couples building a family and trying to conceive.
Thanks to recent advances in science and medicine, there are many well-researched methods for practicing NFP. Ideally, if you’re interested in learning about NFP, you’d work with an instructor. This is the most reliable way to learn, and you can find an instructor in your area here!
But it may not be possible to meet with someone local to you. And let’s be honest, most people trying to learn NFP want answers and advice as quickly as possible! So here are 5 sources online where you can get help in learning to use NFP, also known as Fertility Awareness-Based Method (FABM).
1Billings Ovulation Method Association – USA (BOMA-USA)
BOMA-USA provides education and training for The Billings Ovulation Method®, a natural method of fertility management that teaches how to recognize the body’s natural signs of fertility. BOMA-USA provides simple and personalized care in fertility education with a legacy of evidenced-based effectiveness.
2Couple to Couple League’s Fertility Science Institute
Couple to Couple League celebrated its 50th anniversary with the launch of the Fertility Science Institute (FSI), a unique online platform that provides scientifically-based resources to Fertility Awareness-Based Method (FABM) users seeking ongoing support and education through a lifetime of fertility.
The institute offers resources that stretch far beyond the usual NFP courses for engaged couples to include courses and resources for mothers and daughters, young adults, couples new to FABMs, postpartum moms, perimenopausal women, and women struggling with irregular fertility.
This new resource certainly seems to meet a real need for many women and couples!
3Marquette University College of Nursing Institute for Natural Family Planning
This institute was established in 1997 for the purpose of providing professional education, research and service in natural family planning. Their online classes follow a self-paced online format where you meet with a professional Marquette Method nurse.
4SymptoPro Fertility Education
SymptoPro is a Sympto-Thermal Method of fertility awareness, based on changes in a woman’s cervical mucus, waking or resting temperature, and cervix. Both self-paced online courses and in-person classes are available.
5Creighton Model FertilityCare™ System
The Creighton Model FertilityCare™ System (CrMS) is a standardized modification of the Billings Ovulation Method. It relies upon the standardized observation and charting of biological markers that are essential to a woman’s health and fertility. These ‘biomarkers” indicate when she is naturally fertile and infertile, allowing the couple to use the system either to achieve or to avoid pregnancy.
The method is only taught by instructors, but you can meet online with one in your area (or anywhere in the world!). Find an instructor at this directory.