For those who keep themselves open to life, there is Natural Family Planning (NFP). NFP is a method of monitoring a woman’s natural fertility cycle to discern ovulation and identify periods when conception is likely and unlikely to occur. It’s pretty easy actually.
There are many positive things about NFP.
1) It’s natural in the earthy, outdoorsy sense. This tickles the hippie turned earth-mother in me. NFP doesn’t require ingestion of any artificial hormones to trick the body. NFP respects a woman’s health and bodily integrity. It’s green. It’s organic. And the hormonal birth control pill is ranked by the World Health Organization as a carcinogen in the same category as smoking tobacco. NFP helps women stay in tune with their bodies. That is also useful for noticing reproductive health issues.
2) Couples who use NFP have to communicate and stay on the same page. NFP respects a woman’s natural fertility and requires honest and open communication between husband and wife. Women are not just sexually available to men all the time. With fertility always a possibility, husbands and wives treat each other as full persons with the potential to create life in every act. There must be profound trust and respect. (Obviously, many couples respect each other and communicate without NFP. The point is just that NFP is a boon to respect and communication, not a hindrance).
3) It works! For couples who practice NFP rigorously, it is more effective than condoms. Modern science has helped women to understand their fertility very accurately.
4) It imparts a reverence for sexuality, its life-giving potential and for children. Seeing sex as the baby-making-act gives it true gravity and power. The responsibility for new human life given to husbands and wives is immense.
5) Openness to children truly ties lives together. A husband and wife who are open to children cast their lots together; they invest in the same life project with every intimate experience and proclaim the value of their family in their lives over and above all else.
So there are my positives! Of course, NFP can be scary and nerve-wrecking because it means trusting each other and trusting God. And sometimes it means abstaining for weeks at a time, which sucks. But for us, and others, NFP is worth it!
Yes, it means yielding some control. But in this, there is freedom. It contributes to freedom from worldly judgments and striving for passing goals. It unites husband and wife in the one goal of living their vocation to their family.
So there you have it! Hopefully all-natural sex now makes a little more sense!