Natural family planning: A man's perspective
By Tricia Ballad

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?

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 periodic abstinence?

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?

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.

Tricia Ballad 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 Chicago area.



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