Natural family planning (NFP) is a general name for the methods of family planning that are based on a woman’s menstrual cycle. A man is fertile throughout his life, while a woman is fertile for only a few days each cycle during child-bearing years. Modern methods of NFP are based on extensive medical research and are able to account for variable length cycles. A woman experiences clear, observable signs indicating when she is fertile and when she is infertile. Learning to observe and understand these signs is at the heart of education in natural family planning.
When a couple decides to postpone pregnancy, NFP can be very effective. NFP can also be very helpful for couples who desire to have a child because it identifies the time of ovulation. It is used by many fertility specialists for this purpose. Thus a couple can have marital relations at a time when they know that conception is most likely to occur.
The Belleville Diocese does not require engaged couples to attend a course in Natural Family Planning, but some parishes do require couples to attend an introductory class or full class series. We strongly encourage engaged couples to learn about NFP as part of their marriage preparation even if it is not required as part of their marriage preparation. Couples who practice NFP typically experience increased communication, a deeper respect for one another and a lower divorce rate compared to couples who don't practice NFP. The Diocesan Office of Worship publishes a schedule of Pre-Cana and Engaged Encounter weekends. Some Pre-Cana and Engaged Encounters in the diocese include a talk on NFP. If you are attending one of these and are interested in learning about NFP, please contact us and we can let you know if NFP will be discussed. Alternatively, FertilityCare Services of Belleville offers 1-hour long introductory sessions that provide a brief overview of one method of NFP and it's medical basis.
- "It's reassuring that NFP is what God wants us to do in our marriage. We feel blessed to have this knowledge of our bodies that generations in the past did not have. It's helped us appreciate each other's bodies as a beautiful gift from God, rather than as an object to be used for our own gratification. Because of NFP, we have grown closer physically, emotionally, and spiritually." ~Trent & Ashley
- "The couples I know who practice NFP tell me how much it helps their marriage since it requires ongoing conversation about the most intimate part of their relationship." ~Fr. Jim Deiters, St. Clare Parish in O'Fallon
- "If you open up your mind and heart to the teaching of the Church on contraception, through the intercession of Our Blessed Mother, conversion to Christ is possible. Natural Family Planning frees the heart to live as God intended all along." ~Dr. Rick Brennan, MD
- "My husband and I had used contraception on and off for the first 13 years of our marriage, but when we discovered The Theology of the Body in 2002, it changed our lives forever. We learned for the first time what real love is, how it is communicated, and how to live it within marriage. The truth of “free, faithful, total and fruitful love” pierced our hearts. We wanted the real thing—and no longer desired the counterfeit of contraception. We threw out the contraception, received the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and we have never looked back. It was the best decision we ever made for our marriage, for our family life, and for our faith life!" ~Patty Schneier