Natural Family Planning
Pope Paul Vi wrote in his encyclical, “Humanae Vitae:” “The transmission of human life is a most serious role in which married people collaborate freely and responsibly with God the Creator.”
We therefore believe that family planning decisions — how many children to have and when — belongs solely to the couple and to God. The marital sexual act has both a unitive and a procreative purpose and the Church believes that to interfere with (all forms of direct contraception) or separate the two (in-vitro fertilization) is morally wrong.
Natural Family Planning (NFP) is a science-based, natural, effective, and Church-approved method available to married couples for achieving or postponing pregnancy.
Natural Family Planning (NFP) is approved by the Church as an appropriate form of family planning. Unlike any other family planning method, NFP offers many benefits. Finally, NFP can also be of great help in conceiving children for those with fertility difficulties. NFP methods are based on the observation of the naturally-occurring signs and symptoms of the fertile and infertile phases of a woman’s menstrual cycle. No drugs, devices, or surgical procedures are involved.
Modern NFP methods are a big improvement over the calendar-based “rhythm method” and, when used correctly, are 97-99% effective.
There are many other benefits to NFP. Foremost among them is improved communication between husband and wife. Couples testify that NFP encourages Christian marriage as an intimate partnership of life and love, a sacrament of mutual decision making and shared responsibility. This is probably why, based on available studies, NFP-using couples have an extremely low divorce rate.
The Catholic Church supports the methods of NFP because it respects God’s design for married love. In fact, NFP represents the only authentic approach to family planning available to husbands and wives because the methods can also be used to achieve pregnancy. The success rate of couples using NFP to conceive is up to four times as high as those using IVF (up to 80% of couples with fertility difficulties are helped with NFP).