My new column at Amazing Catechists is entitled “God’s Natural and Beautiful Design.”
“The fact is, as experience shows, that new life is not the result of each and every act of sexual intercourse.” Paul VI, Humanae Vitae
God’s natural and beautiful design is that women are only fertile for a short time each month. Taking into account ovum life (48 hours at most) and sperm life (up to five days depending on the type of mucus in the woman’s body), there are approximately seven days in each cycle that a woman is fertile. Other factors include each woman’s particular level of fertility: the type of mucus, their age (the younger they are, the more fertile) and the man’s level of fertility (sperm count and quality of sperm).
As Pope Paul VI writes in his encyclical, Humanae Vitae (On Human Life),”…new life is not the result of each and every act of sexual intercourse.” And contrary to popular belief, the Catholic Church does not teach that a couple must actively seek pregnancy each time they engage in marital relations. But she does teach that intercourse must at least implicitly retain its procreative meaning. Contraceptives destroy the conjugal act’s procreative aspect. Therefore, if the couple has serious need, and spacing or avoidance of pregnancy is desired, they may use Natural Family Planning, that is, relations during the infertile time.
Natural Family Planning is safe, healthy and effective and works as good, if not better, than most of the popular birth control devices and without the unhealthy side effects of contraceptives.
Let us pray each time we approach the marital bed: “I promise to be faithful to you. I come here freely, I love you totally and I am open to creating children with you.”
Copyright 2011 Ellen Gable Hrkach