(Image courtesy Office of Family/Respect Life Ministry)

By Nina Ranieri | Office of Family/Respect Life Ministry

Natural Family Planning (NFP) is a method of observing the signs of fertility and infertility in a woman’s cycle for the purpose of making conception more or less likely. Since men are typically fertile most of the time, NFP focuses on the woman’s unique monthly cycle in order to determine the time of mutual fertility for the couple.

Even though couples can benefit greatly from NFP, Natural Family Planning is not the norm for married life. According to the National Health Statistics Report published in 2012 by the CDC, 62% of women of reproductive age are currently using contraception. Of the 62%, 28%, or 10.6 million women, use the birth control pill and 27%, or 10.2 million women, have been sterilized. Every year, 500,000 men have elective vasectomies. The rates are higher among more educated and higher-income men. But what happens when we render the marital act sterile? Is the use of contraception supportive for God’s plan of married love?

Some couples may view NFP as risky because every act of marriage is open to life. In the words of author Kimberly Hahn, our culture has bought into the mindset that pregnancy is a “risk.” When we think of things that are risky we may picture financial loss in the stock market or driving without wearing a seat belt. How can the joy and blessing of a new human being-a soul to exist for all eternity-be thought of in such terms? Instead of considering pregnancy as a risk of NFP, we should view it as a possibility. NFP allows for every act of marriage to respect the inseparable connection between the unitive and procreative meanings of human sexuality.

If you feel called to learn more about NFP please visit our new website at www.syracusenfp.org. Here you can learn more about the various methods of NFP and find which one would work best for you.

In celebration of Humanae Vitae’s golden anniversary, the Syracuse Diocese will be hosting a Natural Family Planning week July 22-28. We will be kicking off NFP week with a “splash” as we host regional events in Utica, Syracuse, and Binghamton at local splash parks. We will also be hosting our first Natural Family Planning Conference — Good for the Body, Great for the Soul! — on Saturday, July 28, at Holy Cross Church in DeWitt. Please check out our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/familyrespectlifesyracuse/ to register!

Nina Ranieri works with the Office of Family/Respect Life Ministry as the NFP Coordinator for the Eastern Region. She and her husband Mark have four living children, Olivia, Marky, Juliana, and Dominick; one son in heaven, Vincenzo Louis; and are expecting a little boy in December.

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