Liz Madsen, FCP, FNTP
3 Main Methods of NFP + FA
Updated: Feb 20, 2021
You have heard of NFP or Fertility Awareness but is there just one way to do it? My friend, there are many ways to do it, which is both comforting and confusing. So, I have summed up the 3 main ways to use NFP or FA and a slew of methods for you to choose from in a simple and organized way. Enjoy!
Photo Credit: Katie Kolbrick Photography
The 3 Main Methods of NFP
When introduced to the world of NFP, you might hear people say, "I use Sympto-Thermal!" "I was saved by Marquette!" "I love Creighton!" "FAM is life changing!" "I have this cool thermometer." "I test my mucus." "I have a great app." "I meet with a teacher." "I took an online class." It seems like there are so many options and it's a little overwhelming.
Is there just ONE NFP? Are there hundreds? Where do I start?
I've been in your shoes. 9 years ago when I got married I took the first class that all my married friends (all 2 of them) told me about. It was great, my husband and I learned the Sympto-Thermal Method from Couple to Couple League from a great dynamic teaching couple from our church. The teaching couple was relatable, the method was simple to apply, it empowered my husband and I to understand and honor our fertility. We felt like superheros. After the birth of our first baby boy in 2013 I felt less superhero-confident for several reasons in my postpartum awesomeness and so we changed to Creighton Model. It blew my mind that there was another way to chart and it was just as accurate. Up to this point my husband and I completely relied on the method to tell us if we were fertile or not. I didn't know the WHY behind the method, not very well at least.
I learned more and I'm sharing with you.
Fast forward 3 years, and I decided to teach Creighton Model and started studying ALL about the ovulation cycle, learned about all kinds of methods (as part of the training), and started a business teaching this to women and couples. I've seen hundreds of charts, seen how a cycle works in over 80 different women. Over the last 4 years of teaching, I have learned even more through continued education from FACTS and AAFCP, listened to many podcasts, watched health summits, read books and continue to learn about women's fertility and health.
I'm here to simplify what I have learned for you. Without going into the basics of ovulation and how our fertility works, which I do in this post, I will jump right into the practical steps you can take right now: checking out the methods.
Number 1: Sympto-Thermal Method
Sympto-Thermal Method tracks your fertility by using 3 signs:
Basal Body Temperature or BBT tells you when you have ovulated. Cervical Mucus indicates when it's possible that you are fertile approaching ovulation and cervical position confirms if you are pre or post ovulatory.
You can learn this from many different types of instructors. Fertility Awareness Method (or FAM) teachers, Couple to Couple League (CCL), Justisse Instructors, Sympto-Pro. There are many more ways to learn FAM or Sympto-Thermal method, and I will list ones I know of at the bottom of this post, please check out as many as you can, they are all excellent. Each type of teacher will have their own way of presenting and charting these signs but they are all the Sympto-Thermal Method.
As far as how many classes you'd have to attend, that varies from teacher to teacher, CCL, Justisse and Sympto-Pro will all do it differently, so check into them at the bottom and see what will work for you.
Number 2: Sympto-Hormonal Method
Sympto-Hormonal Method tracks your fertility by using 2 signs:
Urine Hormones via Clearblue Fertility Monitor and/or Wondfo LH Strips
Cervical Mucus, as stated above will indicate when it is possible that you are fertile approaching ovulation. The Clearblue Monitor will detect the hormones Estrogen and Luteinizing Hormone (LH). Estrogen increases in the days you approach ovulation and LH spikes just before ovulation. This helps isolate when exactly ovulation is happening.
There are 2 top ways to learn Sympto-Hormonal method, they are Marquette Method and Boston Cross Check. There is also FEMM Health, which is sympto-hormonal method if you add LH strips, but could be just a Cervical Mucus method as well, and it's flexible to add in temperatures too. Instructors of these methods are listed at the bottom.
There are many different urine hormone testing monitors and types of strips besides those listed above and I will write on all of those in a post coming soon!
Number 3: Ovulation Method
Ovulation method tracks your fertility by using 1 sign:
Cervical Mucus, as you can see, is used in all methods because it is the one sign we can always rely upon to tell us if we are fertile or not. Cervical Mucus increases in quantity and characteristics as you approach ovulation, ovulate and then go into your luteal phase (post-ovulation). It might seem like it's low tech but I assure you, having looked at hundreds of charts, it's very accurate.
You can learn ovulation method a few different ways, Billings Ovulation Method or Creighton Model FertilityCare System (which I teach). Both will teach you to observe your cervical mucus in a more detailed way than other methods listed above since that is the one and only sign to detect your fertility in these methods.
Choosing the right method for you
Now that you know the 3 main NFP Methods and all the ways to learn them, choosing the right one for you will depend on your health, your lifestyle, your personal values, time you are willing to invest and your budget. Effectiveness in avoiding pregnancy comes second to how well the method fits your life and personality. Simply put, you won't be able to use the method to its potential and get the highest possible effectiveness (95-99%) if you are fighting it every day.
Choosing how to learn your chosen method
Look over all these instructors from all the methods listed above and see what method really appeals to you, then who you think you'd like to learn from. If you have any questions about any of the methods, feel free to reach out to me! I'd love to help clear up any questions and possibly connect you with someone, even if it's not me!
Couple to Couple League
Fertility Awareness Method (FAM)
Lisa Hendrickson-Jack aka FertilityFriday
Nat at Fertility Awareness Project
Billings Ovulation Method
Billings Method Online Teaching
Creighton Model FertilityCare System
Other sites who have info on all NFP Methods
Note to NFP Teachers/Practitioners:
If you aren't listed and want to be, please let me know and I would love to include you! I am only listing people with websites since it's easier for potential clients to browse their options that way.
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