The lovely Katarina brought it to my attention that I am an NFP cheerleader. I had to stop and think about her assumption because I have never thought of myself as such. A promoter of NFP? Certainly. After all, I am both Catholic and feminist. But a cheerleader?
Apparently I am that as well.
Why am I a cheerleader for NFP?
First of all, because fertility awareness used for NFP needs all of the cheerleaders it can get! So often the women who learn about their fertility are those who grudgingly admit that they need some way to stop their state of constant pregnancy and breastfeeding. Thus, when they finally learn NFP they find the discipline incredibly challenging, both in terms of observing their fertility and abstaining during potentially fertile times.
I tend to think of Church documents as broadly applicable, regardless of how narrow the context or phrasing might be.
So when I read Vatican II that
Those too who are skilled in other sciences, notably the medical, biological, social and psychological, can considerably advance the welfare of marriage and the family along with peace of conscience if by pooling their efforts they labor to explain more thoroughly the various conditions favoring a proper regulation of births.
I take it to mean that bloggers should promote understanding of NFP. I am an NFP cheerleader because I know that people need the facts about NFP. Most people already know that NFP is not perfect. They don’t need me to tell a self-pitying story about how I happen to fall into the 5% of women for whom fertility awareness for avoiding pregnancy is a medical challenge.
What they do need to know is that with no gadgets, gizmos, or charts, NFP is 96% effective in preventing pregnancy with correct use and more than 86% effective with typical use. That is right, with nothing more than paying a bit of attention throughout her day, a woman can rely on NFP to be as effective as barrier methods of contraception. And if one really wants to put effort into monitoring fertility, careful charting, and diligently abstaining, that NFP can be as close to 100% effective as anything other than complete abstinence.
I am an NFP cheerleader because I know that NFP is a tool to make my life easier, not a solution to all of my problems. I don’t blame the tool for not making my life perfect, I am thankful for all that it does provide me.
I don’t use NFP to avoid pregnancy just for the fun of it. When I am avoiding pregnancy I am doing so for a reason. If I show confusing signs of fertility for 3 months I don’t think “I hate NFP, it doesn’t let me have sex for 3 months!” Instead I would think “I hate the fact that we don’t have health insurance and my husband may have cancer and I don’t currently have the emotional stability to handle pregnancy/another baby.”
There is nothing about NFP that forces me to abstain during potentially fertile times. It is life that determines whether I need to abstain to avoid pregnancy. Fertility awareness in the form of NFP provides a way to understand exactly how to time that abstinence in order to minimize the chance of pregnancy.
I am incredibly thankful for NFP and happy to chant about its goodness in the hope that someone may be encouraged to try it for herself. Does that make me an NFP cheerleader? I guess so!