When or should teens learn NFP? (pt I)

I’ve designed a very simple chart to teach my adult daughter the basics of NFP. If she finds it easy to use I will use the same chart to help a friend’s dd learn. My friend who is fighting breast cancer is very determined her daughter wont be taking what even the World Health Organisation (WHO) has as a Class 1 carcinogenic, chemical contraceptives. More and more women are becoming aware of the horrible side effects and serious repercussions of using any contraceptive, but especially the chemical ones. They want better for their daughters. Thankfully Catholic medical people have long ago come up with safe, effective methods of natural family planning.

Unfortunately NFP is too often advertised as being 98% effective (or more depending on the study and which method of NFP) in spacing pregnancies, as though that’s the only reason to use it. It’s true that all methods are good at avoiding pregnancy if that is what a couple needs to do, but there’s far more to NFP than that.

And that raises the question of when or whether to teach our teenage daughters how to chart and whether unmarried women should bother. Most women who use NFP will agree that learning to chart before you are married is way easier and better than learning while breastfeeding or when a crisis has hit the family.

The number one reason I want my daughters to learn in their late teens, is health reasons. Not that long ago a young wife saved her own life when her chart picked up she had cancer. Many of the methods will identify basic fertility problems or hormone imbalances, but a complete symptom chart such as Creighton or even basic symto-thermal methods will show all sorts of health problems up front so they can be fixed.

I have self-solved two major problems that showed up clearly in charts. While the hospital staff insisted that miscarriages can “just happen” I was aware that mine were a result of luteul phase defect. This means that the time after ovulation was too short, meaning there wasn’t enough progesterone in my system. High doses of Evening Primrose Oil for the first half of my cycle along with a large fresh carrot a day for just the right amount of Vit A kicked everything back into gear and Heleyna came along. All NFP methods are just as good for catching that twinkle from God’s eye as in postponing pregnancy.

Not long after that my temps nose dived to below 96.7 F. all the time. This is a sure sign of thyroid problems (hypo not hyper) so I took a load of sea kelp which is rich in iodine and kicked those temps back up to healthy levels.

Spend any time on Fertility Friend studying other people’s charts and you’ll soon spot all sorts of health patterns that if you see on your chart you can learn to deal with, or find a doctor who will help (In the UK where even midwives have NO IDEA about charting this is a massive challenge).

I want my daughters to know their own bodies, respect themselves and be on the ball for health and fertility.  Simcha Fisher has just written on this (mentioning that a friend of hers has done what I have done and made a simple chart) a day after a friend and I were discussing it with my oldest daughter.

My next question on this issue is which method to teach first? My simple chart is essentially the Billings Method with room for some basic symptoms such as cramping, but as Simcha mentions spot break out and mood are also important for girls to recognise.

There are a couple of downsides in charting. The number one problem is that there are next to no doctors or midwives who have any clue about it. That wouldn’t be so bad if they would listen to the person who does know about it, but most of the time they refuse to accept the mere patient has any knowledge. Now I’ve come across two professionals who were not like this. I spoke to a GP about my luteul phase defect and he actually listened and said he was really interested in learning more about NFP as he could see it would help women’s help. God bless him.

The second person was a midwife. I was in hospital after having a baby (can’t remember which one) and it had obviously been a conversation point at the nurses station that I used NFP. One of the midwives came to ask my advice. She admitted that in all her training not one day was spent on NFP and yet a friend of hers desperately trying to get pregnant kept sending her charts, begging for help.

So, learning NFP can pinpoint all sort of things, but when should a teenage girl start to learn, and what should she be taught?

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3 responses to “When or should teens learn NFP? (pt I)

  1. I would say a teenage girl should start whenever she feel comfortable with it. As for mucus or temp or both…mucus changes are the cornerstone of all NFP methods, and the one for which there is a learning curve to interpret, so the more expereince one has, the better. Temperatures…depends how regularly her waking is! If she tends to wake up at a regular early-enough hour every day, then it may be no extra hassle to just put a thermometer in her mouth for a minute before getting out of bed. But if it would be a disruption to her morning routine I wouldn’t force it on her at this stage.
    She also needn’t necessarily do it ‘religiously’ every cycle.

    I charted for 4 years (self taught!) just out of interest before I got married and I was so glad I did!

    I’ve now finished my training with the Billings Method, but for several reasons have become unhappy with their ethos, so have started training to become a CCL teacher.

    Have you heard of TEEN STAR? They run groups in schools and teach charting to teenage girls

  2. I’d love to know your feelings about Billings Antonia. I decided to go with CCL as well as I was concerned about Billings. It was the attitude about Dr Hilgers that worried me.
    I’ve not heard of TEEN STAR so I’ll check that out. thank you.

  3. Pingback: NFP and contraception another perspective | St Anne Center for Reproductive Health

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