1. Can you share a little about your experience working with NFP/NaPro?
I was first introduced to the Creighton model of NFP while my husband and I were in our Pre-Cana classes. I instantly felt that that was the path I should be taking after numerous doctors had encouraged me to go on birth control to fix my irregular cycles. I eventually met with a NaPro doctor who then brought up Creighton as a recommendation to me to start charting. I was set up with a Fertility Care Practitioner and my husband and I began charting. I quickly fell in love with the idea of actually learning about what was happening with my body and my cycles. I was learning information that I felt was so important but yet I never knew about myself. A year ago I was presented with an opportunity to become a NaPro nurse (my dream job!) and I happily accepted it. I began working under a NaPro Nurse Practitioner and soaked up every bit of information that I could learn. She encouraged me to take the next steps to becoming a Fertility Care Practitioner (another dream of mine) so I decided to move forward with that. I am currently in my internship phase of becoming a Fertility Care Practitioner and am really enjoying being able to teach women and couples this vital information that will help their health and fertility going forward.
2. How does a NaPro practitioner differ from a typical Ob/Gyn? What are the various people someone deals with in this field?
A NaPro practitioner typically uses the patient’s Creighton chart to help them identify issues within the patient’s cycle and works cooperatively with the woman’s cycle to work toward identifying issues that may help fix any issues that may hinder her health or fertility. NaPro practitioners may run different tests such as blood work series and ultrasound series and sometimes turn to exploratory surgeries to help identify issues. Once issues are identified they oftentimes use bio identical hormones to treat hormonal deficiencies and even prescribe natural supplements as well. A FertilityCare Practitioner (FCP) is an instructor who is certified to teach the Creighton model to women and couples. There are also NaPro medical consultants who can be physicians or APN’s who use NaPro technology to help diagnose and treat health issues for women and couples. NaPro surgeons can take diagnostics and treatment to the next level by performing exploratory surgeries as well as surgeries including ovarian wedge resection, endometriosis and adhesion removals, uterine reconstruction, HSG, etc.
3. Who can benefit from NFP/NaPro and how?
Women can benefit from NFP/NaPro starting before puberty, many young girls may be taught a teen-version of charting before they even start menstruating which helps them understand what to begin observing once they do experience their first menses. NFP/NaPro can be used all the way through menopause as well with benefits such as hormone monitoring and management and family planning until menopause is reached. Couples can benefit from sharing in the NFP/NaPro experience by using NFP together as a couple for their family planning and it’s also beneficial for the couple to work together through NaPro treatment and management to help support each other and both have a clear understanding of goals and achievements along the way.
4. What are common challenges you see men & women face related to NFP and fertility?
There are many methods of NFP that a couple can learn and use and they all come with their own benefits and challenges. Many couples struggle with the thought of having to abstain for certain periods of time, there are struggles with keeping up with their particular method (especially when experiencing hormone issues or irregular cycles which can pose extra challenges to NFP) and some methods are pricier than others. When a couple is trying to achieve a pregnancy it can get very tiring and emotional because for many couples it can take months to years to achieve a pregnancy. During that waiting time there are many costs associated, appointments, ultrasounds, injections, medications and supplements. It’s not something that couples imagine having to go through when they envisioned creating their family together. I will say though, despite all of this, if the couple works together and continues to support one another it can really help them become closer to each other through the process by sharing in the pain, responsibilities, waiting and everything else that may come on their journey.
5. If someone is interested in learning more or seeing a NaPro practitioner, where should they begin?
The first thing I’d recommend is research the different methods to see if one of the methods seems to fit your needs and lifestyle better and be sure to work with an instructor when learning a new method. The Creighton model is commonly recommended by NaPro practitioners. Creighton focuses on observing and charting a woman’s cervical mucus patterns each day. These patterns can be used by a couple to help identify if they are fertile or infertile on any given day. The Marquette method uses an electronic hormone monitor to help identify fertile and infertile times along with observing cervical mucus. The symptothermal method is another common method which uses cervical mucus, cervix changes and basal body temperatures to identify the fertile window. The following website is helpful for reading a little more about these methods along with others and will provide information on how to find an instructor: https://fertilityawarenessmethodofbirthcontrol.com/fam-educator-director...
6. How can the Catholic community help support women navigating NFP/NaPro?
It would be helpful to have fliers available within the parish center and/or information in the bulletins. Many dioceses offer and encourage NFP courses within marriage prep. Support groups within a parish or diocese would be helpful to women, men or couples who are navigating through NFP/NaPro. I recommend speaking to your parish to see if there are any resources within your parish such as parishioners who teach one of the methods that may be willing to provide more information about that to yourself or others who may be interested.
7. Do you have any other thoughts or advice?
If NFP or NaPro is something that you’ve had on the back of your mind for awhile I definitely recommend praying about it, research, consult with friends, family and/or your priest to see what insights you can gain from other people’s experiences. It can be a private and sensitive topic for many people to initially want to talk about but you may surprise yourself with who you encounter that may be in a very similar boat. I encourage you to do what works best for you, everyone learns differently and everyone’s lives operate differently so finding a method that meets your needs and lifestyles is key. Don’t be afraid to try out a different model if the first one doesn’t feel right. Finally, I recommend a lot of discussion between you and your significant other if you are engaged or married as well as a lot of prayer and reflection and especially patience when you begin this journey.