Each woman is uniquely and wonderfully made, so not all cycles are the same. Even though the average number of days in a cycle is often stated as 28 days, it is common for cycles to range from 23-35 days. Women are only fertile during a short window of time during their cycle. Because cycles vary, the fertile phase can change, even cycle to cycle. Variables like sickness, underlying conditions, or stress can alter a cycle. Natural Family Planning provides a lense into the cycle that helps women better understand and interpret their overall health and signs of fertility. All NFP methods, or ways of tracking the female cycle are 100% natural and scientifically based. They are taught by trained instructors. See the Methods page to learn more. Even women with irregular cycles can use NFP!
Identifying fertile and infertile phases of a woman’s cycle can help a couple plan their family. Since men are typically fertile at all times, NFP focuses on the woman’s unique monthly cycle in order to determine the time of mutual fertility for the couple.
General Overview of Your Cycle
Whatever the length of a given cycle (which always begins on the first day of your period), it is composed of several distinct phases. These phases are regulated by hormones, and triggered by your brain.
In a normal menstrual cycle, an ovary releases an egg, a process called ovulation. This is the peak of your cycle. When ovulation occurs, a mature egg is released from the ovary, travels down the fallopian tube, and is made available for fertilization. From there it makes its way towards the uterus. The lining of the uterus has thickened to prepare for the fertilized egg. The egg only lives for 12-24 hours. If no conception occurs, the uterine lining, as well as blood, will be signaledto shed. The shedding of the uterine wall is the time of menstruation. Menstruation begins the next cycle.
Most birth control methods work mainly by blocking ovulation through the use of synthetic hormones. These methods include the pill, patches, rings, shots, implants, and hormonal IUDs. Your ovulation is a healthy and normal process, not an illness to be cured or suppressed with drugs. Blocking ovulation produces effects that go far beyond just preventing pregnancy. Studies show how it impacts you, your health, and your relationships.
Natural Family Planning Empowers
Through NFP, women can observe and track daily signs that indicate where they are in their cycle (typically, cervical fluid, basal body tempature, and/or byproducts of hormones in urine).Observing and recording this information (charting) routinely allows women to be active participants in monitoring their health. Irregularities such as change in cycle length, painful periods, abnormal bleeding, inability to conceive, or other gynecologic concerns may reflect underlying hormonal abnormalities that can more easily be addressed and corrected. Knowledge to achieve or avoid pregnancy also becomes clear.
NFP remains useful throughout a woman’s reproductive lifetime (from the very first menstruation, through family planning, post-partum, breastfeeding, perimenopause, etc.).
Learn more about the cycle on managingyourfertility.com/your-cycle.
Ted Talk: Own Your Body’s Data
Cycle Power Collective
Education and Resources for fertility, family planning, and a better approach to women’s health care through the power of the menstrual cycle. Whether you’re a patient or a provider, you can learn from experts and leaders about a new approach to women’s health care and family planning.
For videos, free courses, online conferences, and more, check out.
Information from Medical Associations
Dr. Glenn Ridder, Family Practitioner and NFP Medical Consultant. Dr. Ridder highlights the wonders and dynamics of the female reproductive system and how fertility awareness through natural family planning is modern science at its best.