Yet another post about things I tell my sisters… about Natural Family Planning (NFP) and abstinence.
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This may be difficult for you to believe, but at some point you are likely to encounter people who are even more of the NFP cheerleader type than I am. You will hear them talk not only about the tremendous benefits of NFP, but also toss around stats.
They will refer to the great blessings that come from the “week” of abstinence each month. They will be entirely sincere, and most likely speaking from personal experience.
Then thank God for your mother who taught you the most important skill of listening known as In One Ear And Out The Other.
The truth is that there is no such thing as a literal week of abstinence for healthy young couples seeking 99% effectiveness at avoiding pregnancy. The real fertile window is about six days plus typically an additional three days to verify the end of fertility, resulting in nine days of abstinence as the absolute minimum. Real world averages look more like a week and a half to two weeks.
Unless you are using high-tech methods of fertility determination, you can expect a minimum of ten days of abstinence required to avoid pregnancy each cycle.
Some day you will likely find that this is no longer the case and you will note that your observations have changed to an actual week of fertility in any given cycle. When this happens you should have another serious conversation with your spouse about your family planning goals. It is likely that either you are using NFP in a less effective manner (which is absolutely fine if it is what you want!) or that your fertility is declining (which happens to us all eventually).
Averages are, of course, just that. You may live for years with slightly reduced fertility which requires less than a week of abstinence to avoid pregnancy. You may also live for years with hormonal quirks that routinely require you to abstain for closer to 75% of any given cycle when you need to avoid pregnancy. But if you are healthy, you can expect 10-14 days per cycle to be routine.
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Please Note: this post is just what I tell my sisters. There are certainly people with better training who would disagree. Check here for the best counter-argument I have seen. Unfortunately I have to chalk it up as compelling without being convincing, but you may live in a different world.