Natural Family Planning

The Billings Ovulation Method gives couples a chance to manage family planning in a way that is both reliable and in accordance with the Church’s moral teaching. It works by monitoring the fertility of individual women on a day-to-day basis and providing tried and tested rules for avoidance or achievement of pregnancy. It is not a ‘Catholic equivalent’ of contraception as it never involves taking direct action against conception, but rather it gives a couple the knowledge they need to take advantage of the infertile time naturally present in a woman’s cycle. Couples can discern prayerfully whether it is the right time to allow a new life to start, if God wills it, or whether to abstain during the fertile days. A new decision needs to be made each month, reflecting the changing personal and financial circumstances of the family.

The requirement for cyclical abstinence and the need to discuss charts and decisions foster self respect, respect for one’s spouse, and real intimacy. NFP also inspires reverence towards the human body and towards life from the moment of conception.

The daily charting does not require complex or intrusive procedures, or expensive equipment. It is possible to chart reliably the changing fertility levels and apply the rules even when ordinary cycles are disrupted by stress/illness, by breastfeeding or by the approach of the menopause. The Billings chart can be helpful in recognising and diagnosing abnormalities, and it is an invaluable tool for couples with reduced fertility as it shows the (sometimes very rare and brief) moments when it is possible to conceive naturally.

It is essential to learn the method on an individual basis as every woman is different. Several appointments with an accredited instructor are necessary, until the couple are confidently able to manage their own fertility. (The Billings website also offers teaching over the internet at Success depends on accurate charting and careful application of the rules.

There is an accredited teacher in Shaftesbury (photo above: Valeria Findlay-Wilson - tel 01747 851317, and for other areas the diocesan coordinator is Christine Hudson in Plymouth (01752 224018).