Natural Family Planning (NFP) also known as 'Fertility Awareness' is a combination of methods to planning / prevent pregnancy based on the observation of naturally occurring signs of the fertile and infertile phases of the menstrual cycle.
People who use NFP to avoid or delay pregnancy, abstain from sexual intercourse on potentially fertile days.
Those wanting to achieve pregnancy use NFP to identify the fertile phase and hence maximize the probability of pregnancy.
We use Fertility Awareness in our programme here mainly for couples who are trying to conceive naturally. There are no physical side effects and you have to keep a daily record of your fertility signals, such as your temperature and the fluids coming from your cervix – it takes 3 to 6 menstrual cycles to learn the method. Most women when they come to us already have a very clear idea of when they are ovulating. We use NFP to further explore the hormonal fluctuations within each month and it's not as straightforward as a simple tempterature rise. We look to see if the starting temperatures are themselves within the ideal range, whether the temperatures are consistent day to day or fluctuate wildly for example - we find many of patients conceive within 2-4 months after first recording the 'ideal' chart.
Some of our patients wish to learn NFP so they can avoid pregnancy by abstaining or using barrier contraception during their fertile time. It is sometimes used within our peri-menopause support programme - again to record fluctuations and to give women a greater understanding of the huge hormonal shifts they are experiencing.