Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 1 Corinthians 6:19
Part 1 of this topic explained why the Catholic Church prohibits the use of hormonal birth control (HBC). That post also explained how the use of HBC has negative effects on relationships between men and women.
In addition, Women Speak For Themselves recently initiated the #ThxBirthControl social media campaign on November 15th to shed light on the negative effects of contraception.
This post is meant to encourage Catholic singles to learn about Natural Family Planning (NFP) and their own fertility as an alternative to using HBC. There are lots of reasons for single females to understand their bodies and their fertility before getting involved in a serious relationship, and well before getting married.
Though the Catholic Church rejects the use of any form of HBC, the Catholic Church encourages the use of NFP.
There are many different methods of NFP, referred to as Fertility Awareness Methods (FAMs). These are not the old rhythm method that you may have heard of. FAMs are based on science and the biology of each individual’s body.
Each method tracks information from your unique body. Finding the right method for you and your state of life is the first step.
Typically women will take a class with an instructor who will teach how to read the body’s signs and how to accurately chart those signs. Any woman can use NFP regardless of how irregular her cycles are, how old she is, or her economic or educational status.
And yes—there is an app for that. In fact, there are many different apps. Some work better depending on the method you are using. For example, Sympto-Thermal works well with the Fertility Friend app.
There are also some new technologies to help women who practice NFP. The Wink syncs your personal data collections to the Kindara app. Wearable thermometers also aim take all of the work out of charting by registering your temperature to your app as you sleep.
What Does NFP Have to Do with Catholic Singles?
Your Body Is God’s Great Gift
Why did God make us? This very question is at the heart of our fertility. God made us come to know, love, and serve Him.
How can we know God? Through our bodies.
We are each made in the image and likeness of God. As a result, we can come to know who God is by understanding our bodies. For females, this means understanding our fertility. It is through our fertility that we can be like God and take part in creation. In this way, our bodies are a great gift from God.
By learning NFP women will learn about themselves, their bodies, their fertility patterns, and the physical signs that coincide with those patterns. By using NFP single women can learn to understand themselves and the Lord’s gift of fertility.
By understanding how your body works, who you are, your true desires, and emotions, you will be better equipped to be in a relationship with someone else.
On the other hand, as I explained in Part 1 of this two-part post, if you are using HBC your body is infertile and your brain is not receiving all of the correct signals it needs to make informed decisions about potential future spouses.
Recognizing Your Body’s Signs
Understanding your body’s signs and especially when to expect them can help women avoid common pitfalls affecting all relationships. The apps I mentioned above can help you track these signs, such as:
- Lack of energy
- Food cravings
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Changes in libido
- Mood changes
For dating women, understanding where you are in your cycle can help you plan accordingly. Maybe it is not the best idea to plan a date on the day you are supposed to get PMS. Perhaps if you know you are susceptible to sexual temptation then you may want to avoid going on dates during your peak fertile days.
Once in a relationship and before marriage, understanding your cycle can help you to practice chastity which can be challenging. This will be of great help when you get married. By learning about your body and your fertility patterns you will be preparing yourself for marriage.
Other Benefits of NFP
NFP is Free
There will be some cost of getting started in learning a method, and in investing in a thermometer, but that is it. Once you are feeling confident reading your body’s signs there are no hidden costs. There are no copays. There are no doctor’s visits for prescription refills.
NFP is Natural
There are no chemicals involved. NFP works with your particular physical makeup. It doesn’t rely on mass-produced, one-size fits all chemicals to alter your physiology.
For those practicing NFP and following the rules of the method they are using, NFP is nearly 99% effective at doing what it is supposed to do—read the signs of your body to let you know when you are fertile and when you are not.
No Physical Side Effects
Unlike the long list of side effects accompanying HBC, women using NFP are:
• Less prone to depression and anxiety
• Not at increased risk for stroke, high blood pressure, or ovarian cysts.
NFP Strengthens your Relationship with The Lord
NFP strengthens one’s relationship with God. God gave women the gift of their fertility. Having respect for our bodies and our fertility by learning NFP is a way to honor this great gift.
No matter your stage in life, consider learning more about the different FAMs and discern whether one may be right for you. There are tons of online groups that can help you get started. Find a doctor in your area who is knowledgeable about NFP. Or consider reading Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler.