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Maternal and Infant Health Program Maternal and Infant Health Program

Phone:
  SLC area: (801) 538-9970

FAX:
  SLC area: (801) 538-9409

Mail:
Maternal and Infant Health Program
  P.O. Box 142001
  Salt Lake City UT
  84112-2001




NATURAL FAMILY PLANNING

Natural family planning (NFP) methods are methods of avoiding or seeking pregnancy without the use of contraceptive drugs or devices. NFP methods teach a woman to identify the days of her menstrual cycle when she is likely to get pregnant if she has sexual intercourse (the fertile window), and the days of her menstrual cycle when she is very unlikely to get pregnant if she has sexual intercourse. Many women and men are surprised to learn that the days of the fertile window are different than what they have heard about in the past.

NFP is often confused with the outdated calendar "rhythm" method, but it is more advanced than that. Most NFP methods can be used by women who have irregular cycles or who are breast feeding, as well as women with regular cycles.

Some couples have religious reasons to prefer NFP methods. Other couples use NFP methods for non-religious reasons, such as wishing to use something natural or to avoid side effects of contraceptive medications. Some couples simply find that NFP fits their lifestyle better than other methods. NFP methods are low cost. Women and men who learn NFP learn more about a woman's body and her menstrual cycle.

For some women, a disadvantage of NFP may be that it requires cooperation from the male partner. NFP is a couple's method, not a woman's method or a man's method. If a couple has sexual intercourse on a fertile day, they are likely to get pregnant. Because some couples may "take chances," the pregnancy rate for a group of couples during "typical use" is higher than the pregnancy rate during "perfect use" to avoid pregnancy. Also, NFP does not provide protection from sexually transmitted infections.

Research suggests that the most effective way to learn an NFP method is to meet with a qualified instructor, who can answer your specific questions about your own situation. There are several different NFP methods available in the State of Utah. The following is a brief description of these NFP methods and where you can get more information or instruction for each method. Your risks of pregnancy with perfect use are listed. These are the lowest possible pregnancy rates if the method is used perfectly for one year. Typical use pregnancy rates are higher because couples sometimes have intercourse on fertile days.

In this list, the easiest methods to learn are listed first.

  1. Standard Days Method
    Description of Method: Women who typically have a 26-32 day menstrual cycle consider themselves fertile (able to get pregnant) during days 8-19 of the cycle. Women should not have intercourse on these days to prevent pregnancy.
    Advantages: Simple method to use
    Disadvantages: Only for women with cycles consistently in the range of 26-32 days (about half of women)
    Your risk of pregnancy if perfectly used: 5%
    For general information, click here.

  2. Two-Day Method
    Description of Method: If a woman has noticed vaginal secretions today or yesterday, she considers herself fertile today.
    Advantages: Simple method to use. Can be used with irregular cycles.
    Disadvantages: Cannot be used by some women who have continuous vaginal secretions.
    Your risk of pregnancy if perfectly used: 4%
    For general information, click here.

  3. Billings Ovulation Method
    Description of Method: Days with vaginal secretions and the three days after the Peak Day are considered fertile.
    Advantages: Simple method to use. Can be used with irregular cycles. Teaches women to identify when they ovulate.
    Disadvantages: Requires 3-4 sessions of instruction (more than the Standard Days Method or the Two-Day Method).
    Your risk of pregnancy if perfectly used: 1%
    For general information, click here.

  4. Creighton Model FertilityCare System
    Description of Method: Similar to Billings Method: days with vaginal secretions and the three days after estimated day of ovulation are considered fertile.
    Advantages: Can be used with irregular cycles. Teaches women to identify when they ovulate. Standardized system that includes medical protocols for infertility and women's health problems (natural procreative technology, or NaProTechnology).
    Disadvantages: Requires at least 4 sessions of instruction.
    Your risk of pregnancy if perfectly used: <1%
    For general information, click here

  5. Sympto-Thermal Method
    Description of Method: The fertile days start according to vaginal secretions or counting cycle days; the fertile days end when vaginal secretions cease and the basal body temperature rises.
    Advantages: Multiple markers for to cross check for the fertile days. Teaches women to identify when they ovulate. Can be used with irregular cycles.
    Disadvantages: Most complex of NFP methods. Requires at least 4 sessions of instruction. Temperature is less helpful if a woman is not consistently ovulating.
    Your risk of pregnancy if perfectly used: <1%
    For general information, click here.