Wednesday, January 21, 2009


My church requires that before people get married, they attend a session on "Natural Family Planning." This method basically involves learning to track your fertility using temperature and other physical symptoms, then abstaining from sex during your most fertile periods as a means of controlling family size without using artificial birth control.

Much of the session was devoted to statements about how incredibly effective this method is. Which, ok, maybe, if you actually follow it. But the likelihood of anyone actually being able to follow it regularly enough to maintain a typical family size was undermined a bit by two facts: (1) Our NFP teacher was pregnant with her 7th child; and (2) A guy in our class mentioned that his parents had taught NFP. He later mentioned that he was one of 12 (!) children.


Froggy said...

We got told it was 100% effective, as opposed to condoms, which are 70% effective and birth control pills, which are 60% effective. We were living with someone doing an internship at planned parenthood. She sobbed.

Of course, the person explaining it to us was a priest whose other sexual advice was never to have sex in the living room and always to turn the lights OFF.

CV said...

you know it is 100% effective if you define "most fertile periods" as between the ages of 12 and 70. so just dont have sex for 58 years and you wont get pregnant.

Scarlet Panda said...

Good point, CV--I kind of think that's what they meant.

Fortunately, in my class, we didn't have any ridiculous claims about the lack of effectiveness of other forms of birth control--the message was, "NFP can be as effective as the pill if followed strictly." They did over-emphasize the negative side-effects of birth control pills, though I don't think they actually made any incorrect statements. I think the main problem was that they failed to mention the main negative side effect of NFP: you hardly ever get to have sex (unless you're willing to have 12 kids).

Nell said...

I believe the couple who taught our NFP class had 5 kids, but they tried to emphasize that each child was at least 2 years apart. It wasn't very comforting.

The weird thing is that it is cheaper to get birth control in the Vatican than it is in the rest of Italy (at least that's what I was told in college). Crazy.