Were you aware that next week (July 22-28, 2012) is Natural Family Planning Awareness Week? Probably not; you're not likely to find it listed alongside National Amelia Earhart Day and Hot Dog Month. But every year, the Natural Family Planning Program of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) sponsors an NFP Awareness Week to coincide with the anniversary of the promulgation of Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI's encyclical reaffirming the traditional Catholic teaching on birth control, on July 25, 1968.
If you've ever thought about investigating NFP, this is the perfect week to do so! As the BBC reported, a German study in 2007 found that the sympto-thermal method, the most common method of NFP in use today, is 99.4 percent effective when practiced correctly. Of course, unlike other methods of regulating birth, Natural Family Planning is not "set it and forget it." But with a little bit of research, study, and training, you can enjoy the many benefits of NFP--including easier conception when you decide that the time is right to start or expand your family.
If you would like to learn more about NFP, you can start with this summary of what Natural Family Planning is and why couples choose to practice it. Then, check out these links to online Natural Family Planning Resources. Finally, to understand better the Catholic teaching behind the rejection of artificial birth control and the embrace of natural methods, read my summary of Humanae Vitae itself.
When you're ready to move on, you can find the entire text of Humanae Vitae on the Vatican's website (I've linked to it from my summary), and the USCCB's Natural Family Planning Awareness Week website includes a wealth of resources on NFP for both the laity and those in the ministry.
And if you already practice NFP, you can help others understand the benefits so that they can feel more comfortable choosing Natural Family Planning. Just share your story in Why I Decided to Use Natural Family Planning (for in-depth responses) or in How Has Using Natural Family Planning Changed Your Life? (for shorter responses).
(Two young Richerts camp out under the loveseat. Photo © Amy J. Richert)
More on Natural Family Planning (NFP):
- Humanae Vitae
- What Is Natural Family Planning?
- Natural Family Planning Resources
- Natural Family Planning: A Personal Perspective
- Reader Question: Is NFP Really Effective in Avoiding Pregnancy?
- Reader Question: Why Don't Priests Preach About Birth Control?
- Notes on the Guttmacher Institute's "Facts on Contraceptive Use in the United States"
- Reader Stories: Why I Decided to Use Natural Family Planning (NFP)
- Readers Respond: How Has Using Natural Family Planning (NFP) Changed Your Life?
- Forum Friday: NFP
- Forum Friday: NFP Revisited