The Nourished Blog

Natural Family Planning with Accuracy

Have you ever mentioned to a friend or family member that you have been considering taking the leap to Natural Family Planning? 

If you were greeted with, “Why would you try that? I heard ‘so-and-so’ got pregnant doing that!!”

You’re not alone 😉

That friend that “got pregnant using natural family planning” was most likely NOT using it correctly.

Why does this always seem to happen??

First, I want to clarify a few terms.

You may have heard people use the terms Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) and Natural Family Planning (NFP) interchangeably.

Both of these terms mean the same thing! But, I have noticed a few differences – so let’s dig in.

Natural Family Planning is often used in more of a religious context whereas Fertility Awareness Method seems to be more common in both the secular and religious communities.

When learned CORRECTLY, these methods are highly effective for birth control.

But here is where the miscommunication and judgment comes in…

That quick natural family planning class your friend took before getting married may not have been sufficient enough to learn the method accurately for birth control.

fertility awareness-based methods are NOT always taught effectively, and therefore, mistakes can happen.

I have had quite a few friends who have gone through some NFP “training” as a requirement before marriage in their religious community. 

From their experiences (and also the experiences of some of my clients), this training is severely lacking and not adequate in teaching couples how to use the method EFFECTIVELY. 

You simply can’t get an accurate training in natural family planning in just a few short training sessions!

While there may be instruction on how to paper chart, observe cervical mucus and basal body temperature, this brief overview is simply not enough to fully implement the method for birth control accuracy. In most cases.

Unless you continue to self-teach natural family planning on your own, or you choose to enroll in step-by-step natural family planning classes, I’m not convinced that these pre-marriage trainings are enough.

Jamie Murphy, a fellow FAM instructor shared this, “Most natural family planning education is severely lacking and may even be done by a couple in the parish. It gives NFP a bad name. Which is why I made it my mission to learn and teach a method backed by solid literature and THEN introduce the spirituality aspect to those clients who want it based on my experience with NFP in my marriage.” 

I share all this to say that you must learn the method accurately, and chart consistently, for 99% effective birth control.  

A quick pre-wedding class or two is not always sufficient in TRULY understanding how the method works for pregnancy prevention.

So that friend or family member that “learned” fertility awareness method and ended up with a ton of unplanned pregnancies… maybe they didn’t learn it well enough 😉

Are they ACTUALLY using Natural Family Planning or a modified version of the method?

Many people are confused and think that they are using NFP, when in actuality, they are using “their own modified version” of the method.

Does this sound familiar? Maybe you fall into one of these camps too…

  • You track your basal body temps only, but you’re not paying attention to cervical mucus
  • You are tracking your menstrual cycle on a calendar app, but not charting cervical mucus or basal body temperature
  • You simply assume you ovulate around day 14 and lightly plan around that
  • You use an algorithm-based app for natural birth control but you’re not cross-referencing with your body’s daily fertility biomarkers
  • You’re not communicating with your partner about barrier methods during the fertile window and mistakes happen

There are a lot of ways that people modify the rules of Natural Family Planning and this alters the effectiveness rate of the method.

Finally – let’s talk about the science-based effectiveness rates of various birth control methods so you can be backed with information when the FAM-trolls come knocking on your door.

Birth Control Effectiveness Rates (in order of effectiveness) 

  • Hormonal IUD: 99% effective
  • Fertility Awareness Method: 98-99% effective with perfect use
  • Hormonal Birth Control pill: 98-99% effective with perfect use
  • Condoms: 98% effective with perfect use
  • Natural Cycles App: 93% effective
  • Phexxi: 93% effective
  • Withdrawal Method 80% effective (with typical use, higher with perfect use)
  • Rhythm or calendar method 75% effective

As you can see, FAM ranks right up there with perfect use of the hormonal birth control pill and the IUD.

And did you know that typical-use of the birth control pill is a thing? Not everyone takes their pill at the same time every day or even consistently as directed. This can actually bring the pills rate down to 91%.


Natural Family Planning works by following a method and protocol based on YOUR unique body’s fertility biomarkers to prevent pregnancy.

Its science, not just luck!

So, next time a friend or family member shares about…”that friend that got pregnant using natural family planning” you can ask them if they ACTUALLY were using the correct method.

You can also prep them with the effectiveness rates of various types of birth control and share that, when used perfectly, Natural Family Planning is just as effective as other birth control methods.

If you’re looking to implement Natural Family Planning (aka Fertility Awareness Method) with confidence and accuracy – check out my free natural family planning class here!

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Hi, I’m Nina! I’m a Certified Fertility Awareness Educator who teaches women how to transition off of birth control and prevent pregnancy hormone-free.

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