What is Natural Family Planning?

Written by Monica Rincon, BSc, MSc - Monica was a public health data scientist that was instrumental in the research on the efficacy of the Mira monitor for natural family planning/fertility awareness. This research is ongoing. We lost Monica to eternal life in 2023.

Fertility awareness-based methods of family planning, also known as natural family planning, allow couples to plan their family without using artificial barriers or hormones. These methods involve tracking biomarkers such as cervical mucus, temperature, or hormonal testing to determine the fertile and infertile times during the menstrual cycle. Additionally, they can be used to diagnose menstrual abnormalities. Unlike other family planning methods, fertility awareness-based methods have no medication side effects and are entirely natural.

Methods of NFP can be used effectively to achieve or postpone pregnancy since women can use it to pinpoint their unique fertile window during the menstrual cycles. While signs like temperature and cervical mucus changes are recorded daily on an NFP chart, women can detect and include the identification of fertile hormones by using a digital fertility tracker such as the Mira Fertility Plus. This monitor allows you use daily testing of estrogens and LH levels, this further helps to identify your unique hormonal patterns whether the menstrual cycle is regular or not.  Mira also allows urinary testing for progesterone and HCG hormones.

The Marquette Method of Natural Family Planning has used the Clear Blue monitor for many years, and this method is based on scientific research that is published in reputable peer-reviewed medical journals. Compared to the Clear Blue monitor, the Mira monitor offers testing of additional urinary hormone markers. It also offers a user-friendly smartphone interface that automatically charts your hormone levels. At present, there is ongoing research regarding the efficacy of the Mira monitor for natural family planning/fertility awareness.

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Mira should be taught by an instructor. We will bill your insurance for natural family planning services.

How Mira Helps With NFP

The effectiveness of NFP methods to postpone pregnancy is based on the accurate detection of the beginning and end of the fertile window in a woman’s menstrual cycle. Abstinence is practiced during this phase.  Monitors such as Mira can aid in the detection of the fertile window, especially in women who are breastfeeding, have irregular menstrual cycles, or have polycystic ovarian syndrome. Mira is also helpful for women approaching menopause.

The data you record when charting your cycles can also be used in the diagnosis of problems such as anovulatory cycles, polycystic ovarian syndrome and other medical concerns. It provides you with important information for you to share with your healthcare provider.

The Catholic Church teaches that couples using natural family planning to postpone pregnancy should have “grave reason” to do so. Fertility is considered a beautiful gift from God, and the decision to postpone pregnancy using natural methods should be made due to grave reasons. The Catechism of the Catholic Church does not define “grave reason.” If you have questions about your personal situation, we encourage you to speak with your parish priest or a spiritual director.

References:
World Health O. Natural family planning : a guide to provision of services. Geneva: World Health Organization; 1988.
Vigil P, Ceric F, Cortés ME, Klaus H. Usefulness of Monitoring Fertility from Menarche. Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology. 2006;19(3):173-9.
Vigil P, Blackwell LF, Cortés ME. The importance of fertility awareness in the assessment of a woman’s health: A review. Linacre Quarterly. 2012;79(4):426-50.