family planning: A man's perspective
One of the things that sets
Natural Family Planning (NFP) apart from conventional birth
control methods is the inclusion of the man in a couple's
family planning. In keeping with that philosophy, I recently
sat down with Rick*, a close friend and NFP practitioner,
to find out his thoughts on fertility awareness.
TB: What is it like
being actively involved in the birth control process?
Rick: NFP is more work that popping
a pill every morning, but being an active participant
in family planning is worth it. Charting Meg’s
cycles demystifies the process of conceiving or avoiding
a pregnancy. By watching her chart, I get the same information
she does. I know without having to ask whether she is
likely to conceive or not. There are no questions about
whether she took her Pill that morning or where the stash
of condoms is.
I can also anticipate the
days that she will be completely uninterested in sex due
to what point she's at in her cycle.
TB: Do you feel more
or less secure about your birth control using NFP?
Rick: I definitely feel more secure
about family planning than I did when Meg was on the
Pill. Then, I felt that my involvement was unnecessary
and in some cases unwelcome. Back then, birth control
wasn't any of my business -- that was between Meg and
her Ob/Gyn. I just trusted that she was on the Pill and
left it at that.
With NFP, I see myself as
an equal partner in family planning. Now, I know there
won't be any “planned accidents.” I've known
guys whose wives or girlfriends wanted a baby, so they
just stopped taking the Pill without telling their partners.
I know whether Meg is fertile at the moment or not.
TB: Aren’t there
aspects of NFP you find difficult or inconvenient?
Rick: I think the sense of responsibility and obligation are the most
difficult things to adjust to. When Meg and I decided to start practicing NFP,
it was the first time that I really had to take responsibility for our fertility.
Remember, before that, avoiding pregnancy really wasn't my problem – I
could simply assume that she had taken the Pill that morning. With NFP, I keep
track of our more- and less-fertile phases along with Meg, and we share the
responsibility of deciding when to abstain in order to avoid pregnancy.
I also share the obligation
of getting up with her to take her temperature every morning
at the same time. It’s good preparation for having
kids -- they don't care if it's Saturday or how late you
were up the night before, either! They're up at the same
time every morning, regardless.
TB: What about the
Rick: Meg suffered from depression when she was on the Pill, so she
wasn't interested in sex at all. The panic attacks she used to have caused
us to abstain pretty much 100% of the time. I see NFP as getting to have a
normal sex life again. It's kind of like being teenagers again. And since we
both understand that we won't have intercourse during her fertile time, we’re
more likely to slow down and enjoy other ways of sharing our affection.
TB: What advice would
you give other couples considering NFP?
Rick: Arm yourself with a lot of facts and make your decision based
on that. And be prepared to deal with some pretty wild reactions when people
find out your wife's not on the Pill.
* All names have been changed.
is a web developer by profession and a writer and natural
family planning advocate by passion. Her goal is to “negotiate
the divide between mainstream suburbia and the strikingly
counter-cultural, seeking a balance between the two extremes.” Tricia
lives with her husband and their growing family in the