Posted by: bridget | 19 March 2007

Natural Family Planning – For Teens

Toni Weschler, author of a book about natural family planning for adults, decided to bring this information to teenagers. Her new book, “Cycle Savvy: The Smart Teen’s Guide to the Mysteries of Her Body,” is designed to teach young women about the hormonal changes and physical indicia of ovulation. Women have used natural family planning to conceive and to avoid conception; it is highly effective at doing both.

Of course, such a book will trigger culture wars. Many parents – quite understandably – worry that teens lack the discipline to effectually use natural family planning as birth control (in order to be successful, a woman needs to chart several pieces of data every day). Other believe that this will help women to know their bodies, and, of course, NFP can be used when a woman wants to conceive.

Both camps miss an essential problem with teen sexuality and pregnancy. Often, teenagers (and adults) have sex shortly after deciding to do so. In order for NFP to work, a couple must abstain from sex during the few days that a woman is ovulating. A woman must also track her cycles for several months prior to having unprotected sex.

While some young women may have the superb discipline to track her fertility, she would need a partner willing to not have sex while she establishes a baseline for her body, and, of course, one willing to abstain when she is ovulating. After having apparent unprotected sex, few teenage boys would really be willing to abstain or use a condom when asked to do so, based on nothing more than a few fractions of a degree difference in their girlfriend’s’ core body temperature.

Edit: Ideally, teens (of both genders) would know about NFP and understand that while all sex need not be procreative, it is inherently exclusive to committed relationships.  In a long-term monogamous relationships, a couple need not jump through hoops to avoid pregnancy and STDs: our bodies are simply not designed for the lifestyle promoted by modern progressives.

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Responses

  1. Teen Sexuality is a tough one. the boys want it all, and the girls – well – the girls don’t really seem to care. I would simply say that Peer Pressure is where all begins.

  2. Well, yes, peer pressure is where it begins – that and the natural end result of the sexual revolution. That doesn’t really address, though, whether or not natural family planning is a sensible method of birth control.

  3. I think that NFP is certainly a sensible form of birth control. For some people. NFP in and of itself is not a problem– improper practice is. As with any birth control, couples must determine together what is most appropriate. As a married woman who has no risk of STDs, I have chosen NFP.

  4. That’s a good question. My first thought is that it wouldn’t be bad for teens to know about it, if nothing else for future reference. They should be informed that other birth control methods can have side effects and may even be abortifacients.

    But I think you are right that we’re at a point in the sexual revolution where NFP probably isn’t too practical. It sure won’t work well with hook-ups.

  5. Who don’t parents follow this brilliant example instead…

    http://wbztv.com/local/local_story_078184652.html

    How stupid!

  6. Oh wow!
    And I thought having to listen to “The Talk” was bad enough…

  7. Kelly,

    Thanks for stopping in! :) I’m a huge supporter of birth control that is NOT the Pill, given the long-term side effects (increased risk of breast cancer, among others) – and really, all of those hormones can’t be good for you.

    The important thing is, though, that you’re married and monogamous. If your husband is a good guy, he’s not going to mind not having sex one or two days each month, and, of course, you’re in a long-term relationship that justifies the use of a birth control that takes several months to adopt.

  8. Neil,

    You’re right – giving info to teens, especially for future reference, is a good idea. As you say, though, it will work very poorly with the hook-up culture. “I’m sorry, not tonight, but how about two days from now?” isn’t going to fly.

  9. John,

    Where do you find these things? Oh, yeah, and EEWWWWWWW!!!

    Is nothing sacred? What about teaching your kid about not exposing herself? Are they trying to make her into a little exhibitionist? Clearly, these people have never been in a socially awkward situation as a result of watching people make out. Bodily functions (eating aside) are just private.

    EEEWWWW.

  10. “If your husband is a good guy, he’s not going to mind not having sex one or two days each month”

    What?!

    You know you’re married with children when you’re offered the choice between a nap or sex- and you choose the nap…lol.

    Single me would so kick my butt right now.

  11. LMAO!! Oh, that’s great. :)

    Just sayin’… NFP does require that you not have sex when ovulating (or use alternate protection). I can see a married guy doing that but can’t see a horny 18-year-old putting up with it.

  12. As a married guy (with a full schedule) I have no problem with it. As a single guy I was waiting until marriage- so wouldn’t have had a problem with it then either.

  13. :) That’s why we like you! :) The problem isn’t that there are men like you in the world; it’s that there’s not enough of you.

    There’s simply no way that a guy schooled in modern progressive “sex is natural and fun and only panty-sniffers say that it involves those pesky emotions” would really be on board with natural family planning. I’ve known too many men who express shock that a woman (even one not having sex) would not be on the Pill. There’s an expectation that women pump hormones into their bodies because God forbid they miss out on a good time – that we be perpetually ready for sex without consequences.

  14. I found one! Sort of. We kind of got off track at one point in our relationship… (the waiting, part, not the monogamy but we made it right.
    NFP still requires us to be open to consequences, you know? It is not a decision that I make each morning when I take my temp, but rather each month when those few days roll around.
    Something else which occurred to me… Jon and I actually took a class and had a coach when we started NFP, not just some book. For months, I sent our charts in to be graded, as it were. Couple to Couple League made sure that we knew what we were doing when it came to interpreting trends and mucous. I would like to read this book and see if she is really teaching NFP, or just recycling the old “rhythm method” crap.

  15. His name is Jon too. Must be a quality guy ;-).

  16. NFP still requires us to be open to consequences, you know? It is not a decision that I make each morning when I take my temp, but rather each month when those few days roll around.

    Great point.:) It seems like a very healthy way to take care of your body, while avoiding the ridiculousness of divorcing sex from emotional, spiritual, and biological results.

    Interesting that you both went to class to learn this! A lot of birth control methods are exclusive to the woman (which just makes life even easier for the modern man), and NFP seems designed to have the burden exclusively on the woman. Very interesting.

    Note to self: Seek out men named Jo(h)n. ;)

  17. Not to divulge too much, but me and my wife thought she couldn’t get pregnant for medical reasons. Based on our experiences (meaning the 2 year old girl conceived one month after our marriage who is now the joy of my life) we can say, “Don’t rely on such a claim from your doctor!” LOL.

  18. Congratulations! :) The pictures of your daughter are adorable.

    meaning the 2 year old girl conceived one month after our marriage who is now the joy of my life

    Gotta keep healthy – you want to be around to see her grow up and, of course, have enough energy to play with the grandkids (if you get them).

  19. We learned NFP from some Catholic lady. I think we got pregnant during it once (it ended in a miscarriage) but all in all I would recommend it.

    Oddly, your post here is the first time I’ve heard of NFP in about 18 years! Not much profit to be had with it I supposed, so you won’t be hearing about it from Planned Parenthood.

  20. P.S. The lady was part of a hospital, I think. She was very well educated on the topic.

  21. Not much profit – excellent point. I hadn’t thought of that.

    I suppose you could figure out some way to profit from it (I’ve heard of urine samples that can be tested at home), but I still doubt that Planned Parenthood will really promote it; after all, it’s completely antithetical to the idea of humans as animals with urges.

    Next blog topic: slide rules. ;)

  22. I used the rhythm method. My three children will confirm this.

  23. (Snort.) That’s a good one. ;)


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