Natural Family Planning IS NOT The Rhythm Method

Having written some of my recent posts has opened me up to slew of criticism, which happens to be, for the most part, nasty and uneducated. While I don’t intend to address most of it publicly, this is the one point that absolutely has to be cleared up. NATURAL FAMILY PLANNING IS NOT THE RHYTHM METHOD. I’ve even had nurses at former OB/GYN’s offices smugly make comments about my choice to use the “rhythm method.” I suppose the Rhythm Method is a form of Natural Family Planning, albeit a very bad one, but saying one uses NFP DOES NOT mean she uses the Rhythm Method. For those of you wondering what I could possibly be talking about, let me explain.

The Rhythm Method is when a women tracks her periods and basically guesses at when she might be ovulating based on the standard of a 28 day menstrual cycle. The huge problem with this is only something like 12% of women have a “normal 28 day cycle” every month. Attempting to achieve or postpone pregnancy based on an “average” is just foolish. People who oppose NFP are quick to cite statistics regarding the regular failure of the Rhythm Method and apply it to NFP in general. This is neither fair nor accurate.

True, reliable NFP comes under several names (the Sympto-Thermal Method,  the Billings Ovulation Method, and the Creighton Model, just to name a few) but all methods involve charting when you, as an individual, in that particular month, ovulate. When taking an NFP class, you learn the science behind ovulation and the menstrual cycle. You learn how to observe your body to know when you are ovulating. Whether you’re trying to achieve or prevent pregnancy or even just be proactive about your health, this is invaluable information. NFP works no matter what. If you’re early, if you’re late, if you’re stressed, if your fertile cycle begins before your period ends, if you’re breastfeeding, if you only have a few periods a year, if you’re illiterate, if you’re blind, whatever your unique circumstance is, NFP will let you know when you’re ovulating.

Common scientific sense tells you that if you have sex when you’re ovulating it is very likely you will get pregnant. If you don’t, you can’t. You absolutely can not get pregnant if you are not fertile. It’s not possible. (If you’re ever bored look up the case studies in India and China where NFP was implemented with a practically non-existent pregnancy rate. You most definitely can’t say the same for handing out artificial contraceptives.) For couples desiring to postpone pregnancy, they simply abstain from sex during the brief window of fertility. That’s why people freak out. Something about brief period of abstinence completely baffles and overwhelms our culture.

All things considered, (click here to read a transcript of a fabulous talk by Dr. Janet Smith where she discusses the relationship between contraception, divorce, abortion, poverty, and other social ills) I would much rather abstain a handful of days each month during the times I feel we are unable to accept another child than pollute my body and marriage with artificial birth control. I think if more people did a little research before popping that pill, getting that shot or inserting that ring, they would feel the same way.

In this day and age of it being so trendy to “go green,” eat organic foods, and be environmentally responsible, I find it laughable that so many people mindlessly choose artificial contraception over natural methods. (For information on how birth control is harming our environment, click here or just google “birth control and fish”) While my motives in choosing NFP aren’t necessarily “green,” I’m glad I’m not contributing to this problem.

I do want to point out, if you are interested in NFP it’s crucial you take a class or order an at home study kit, so you can learn what you’re doing. If you just read an article and attempt to implement it, you will likely be unsuccessful. However, with very little time, effort, or expense, you can learn NFP and say goodbye to artificial contraception and all its unpleasant and harmful side effects for good.

Lastly, my family size should not be used as an indicator of how well NFP works. Josh and I have never had a “surprise” pregnancy since beginning NFP. (The same can not be said for when we were using artificial contraception. I wouldn’t give Andy back for anything in the world, but he definitely wasn’t “planned.”) We know full well when we “risk” becoming pregnant. Believe it or not, we love our family and we don’t consider our children or family size to be a burden. Despite the negativity we receive from our peers, friends, strangers, and family, we adore our children and are open to more if that’s what the Lord has planned for us. At the same time, we know that we can also rely on NFP to postpone pregnancy if the need arises and have effectively done so in the past.

And just for good measure, I want to share these questions from FertilityCare Centers of America. If your answer to any of the following questions is “yes,” they highly recommend (and, of course, I agree) looking into a natural family planning method.

1. Do you want to know more about how your menstrual cycle works?

2. Are you tired of taking birth control pills, using condoms, using gels or diaphragms?

3. Are you looking for something to manage your fertility that is entirely natural?

4. Are you tired of having the birth control pill recommended for the treatment of nearly every woman’s health problem?

5. Are you interested in a family planning system that also allows you to monitor and maintain your health?

6. Are you looking for a family planning system that is completely safe and has no medical side effects?

7. Are you looking for a family planning method where surveys have shown a high level of couple satisfaction?

8. Are you looking for a solution to a reproductive problem? Infertility? Miscarriage? Stillbirth? Prematurity?

9. Are you looking for a solution to premenstrual syndrome? Recurrent Ovarian Cysts? Abnormal bleeding?

10. Would you like a family planning system that actually helps bond your marriage? Where both the the man and the woman work together?

11. Are you looking for a system of family planning that is morally acceptable to you and your spouse?

If your answer was “YES!” to any of the above questions, then you should seriously consider contacting an affiliated center of FertilityCare™ Centers of America.

To locate a FertilityCare™ Center in your area, please go to for a complete listing of Centers located in the United States and Canada or write to:

FertilityCare™ Center of Omaha

6901 Mercy Road

Omaha, Nebraska 68106


3 thoughts on “Natural Family Planning IS NOT The Rhythm Method

  1. Like you, I also use the rhythm method, simply because I didn’t want to deal with all the side effects of using artificial contraception. It’s worked for us – there’s an 11 1/2 year gap between my two boys. One is 18, the other is 6.

    I think people just need to learn & understand their bodies as well as the different forms of contraception. But then again, popping a pill, getting a shot or applying a patch seems way more easier & convenient than taking the time to learn about our bodies.

  2. But the fact remains, you can get pregnant any time during your cycle, even if you chart. So I think if people want to chart they need to be prepared that there is a chance they can still get pregnant. Though, this is true for every single method of birth control, but sometimes I get the impression that people (not saying you specifically) think NFP is infallible.

    • Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts! You are right that all forms of family planning are fallible, some more than others, and often due to “operator error.” :o) For me, that’s where faith in God’s plan for my life comes in. However, it is not possible for a women to get pregnant except during that brief window of fertility. Men are fertile all the time, but women are not. When one uses NFP, assuming her chart is right, she has complete control over what she chooses to do during that brief window of fertility. If she’s not interested in getting pregnant, she can abstain. If she wants to get pregnant, now is the time to go for it. Again, that’s why it’s so important to be properly trained in how to use NFP so you get that window right. Personally, I’ll never go back to artificial contraception. NFP has been a liberating experience for me personally and for my marriage. My main point is how frustrating it is when people, including medical professionals, don’t understand NFP and therefore look down on it and/or apply rhythm method statistics to it. When used correctly, although we’ve already established some points about that, it can’t fail.

Thanks for reading! Do you have any comments or similar experiences? Share your thoughts below. (Even if it's an old post, I'd love to hear from you!)

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