“The fact is, as experience shows, that new life is not the result of each and every act of sexual intercourse.” Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae
This year, Pope Paul VI’s encyclical, Humanae Vitae (On Human Life) turns 50. Humanae Vitae re-affirmed the Church’s 2000-year teaching that artificial birth control was immoral and “intrinsically evil.” To celebrate this milestone, I’ll be re-posting many of my NFP/Theology of the Body-themed articles.
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).
Contrary to popular belief, the Catholic Church does not teach that a couple must actively seek pregnancy each and every time they engage in marital relations. But she does teach that intercourse must at least implicitly retain its procreative meaning and be open to life. 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, have relations only 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 contraceptive devices and drugs.
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.”
For more information on NFP:
Copyright 2018 Ellen Gable Hrkach