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November 9, 2017

Avoiding pregnancy – for the long haul

The following is an excerpt from a Natural Womanhood online article Is fertility awareness a long-term solution for preventing pregnancy?by Kathleen Taylor (

I do not want 12 kids. I have nothing against families with 12 kids, but it is not what I envision for my family (if you want to see a cool trick, say the words “twelve kids” to my husband and watch all the colour drain from his face).  And I don’t mean to be a downer, but I also don’t want to be having any babies when my babies are having babies. I know if that happens, we will welcome and raise a very loved baby.

However, because of the physical, emotional, and behavioural risks and side effects associated with hormonal birth control, we have agreed not use it, so natural family planning (NFP) it is.

NFP has worked great for us during the spacing-babies-phase of life, but I’ll admit, thinking about using NFP for the rest of my reproductive days is daunting. I might have 20 years of baby-making power still left in me!

Can NFP work as a long-term method of avoiding pregnancy?  What does this look like in real, working marriages?  Is that level of strictness and accuracy even plausible for extended periods of time?  I have a feeling I’m not the only person who has these anxieties, so I found some couples who have had success using NFP to avoid pregnancy for the long haul and who were willing to share their experiences.

I heard from couples who have every reason to avoid pregnancy.  Liza and Dean had very serious medical reasons to avoid pregnancy.  Liza was taking medication for Crohn’s disease that would have been harmful to a foetus.  She wasn’t a candidate for hormonal birth control because she was diagnosed with her first DVT (deep vein thrombosis) at the age of 21, and luckily, she was advised of the risks for blot clots and strokes that come with the pill.

In fact, when she had a stroke at age 37 due to an extremely large blood clot in her brain, the neurologist thought birth control was the culprit because of how commonly they see this situation in the ICU. She assured them she had never used birth control because of this very risk, and eventually she was diagnosed with MTHFR A1298C mutation.

Her doctors affirmed and encouraged Liza and Dean’s decision to not get pregnant because the necessary blood thinners would put her and the baby at risk during delivery. Even while suffering from short-term memory loss as a result of the stroke, Liza charted daily, using a small notebook to help her remember her signs throughout the day. NFP helped them avoid pregnancy for 14 years, and safely led Liza to menopause with zero pregnancies.

Similarly, an anonymous couple with five kids has had success avoiding pregnancy for 16 years! After their fifth child was born her life was threatened by blood pressure problems caused by negative reactions to the baby’s blood type.  Even though they wanted more children, the risk was too great.

The couple had strong moral objections to hormonal birth control, so even though the doctor was sceptical, he never pressured them into contraception or sterilisation. At age 51, this couple is nearing menopause while still charting fairly regular cycles.

Other participants with seven or more years of successfully avoiding pregnancy claimed emotional, financial, or personal reasons to avoid. One mama of five said they “feel complete” and I hear that!  So how did they all do it?

I asked them what was crucial in their success. Every single couple that I heard back from had learned a particular method from a certified instructor! Many women reported that having an instructor to answer their questions and review their charts was the main reason for their success, especially women with complicated cycles from endometriosis, PCOS, adenomyosis, auto-immune disorders, or even during breastfeeding/menopause (Yes, you can successfully use NFP if you are in these situations).

Other important factors in their success were being resolute in their decision to avoid a pregnancy and support from their husbands.

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