Women Speak on NFP: Confidence and Simplicity with the Billings Ovulation Method

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This is a guest post by Christy of fountains of home in the Women Speak on NFP series. In this series you will hear from women using various methods of NFP, some to avoid pregnancy, some trying to conceive, and their experiences.

Disclaimer: This series is not meant to be a substitute for any method of training in NFP! If you are interested in one of the methods introduced in this series, please contact a certified instructor for information about training in that method of NFP. 

In the almost seven years of my married life I’ve come to learn much more about NFP and the science behind it than I ever thought I would! Of course I should also say that I’ve learnt a whole lot more of what it takes to practice NFP on a daily basis and how it can really become part of one’s lifestyle. I think the choice of NFP method is a very important decision for a woman to make, not only because it effects her life, but also the life of her husband and family so intimately. And its been my experience that because NFP is a part of your life day in and day out that it should be as simple to live as possible and must be a method that gives confidence!

Although my experience with natural family planning has been anything but easy or straightforward, I am thankful for the knowledge I’ve somehow accumulated over that time. Most of that knowledge has come directly from practicing the Billings Ovulation Method. In what’s become a strange hobby of mine – researching different natural family planning methods, I’ve come to believe that Billings offers a confident and reliable, yet simple, approach to fertility awareness.

Here’s How it Works

Billings teaches you to recognize the natural signs of your own fertility throughout the course of your cycle. This happens simply by observing throughout your day any sensations of discharge felt at the vulva and any visible signs of cervical mucus. (I know, I know, gross words-we just have to get over that!) These signs are recorded in the woman’s own descriptive words on her chart and when there becomes a developing, changing pattern of mucus this indicates the woman’s fertile phase. Billings clearly identifies the Peak day of a woman’s fertility, the day ovulation most likely will occur, by the recording of a sensation of slippery followed by a day of dryness. After a Peak is determined the fertile phase of the cycle is over.

No thermometers or monitors are needed, there are no specified times of the day where you have to check things, and no clinical observations that you have to match with what you yourself are seeing. Just your own observations in your own words as you go about your day as you normally would, as the mucus has been proven to be the best indicator of fertility. Simple.

Once a woman becomes aware of the sensations of her body and begins to recognize and identify differing types of mucus the 4 Rules of the Billings method can be applied. These four simple rules are applied through all stages of a woman’s reproductive life including breastfeeding, menopause, and during different health issues. These rules are simply applied throughout the cycle and are easy for both husband and wife to understand. Of course these rules can be applied either way-in avoiding conception or in trying to achieve a pregnancy.

This is just a broad overview on how the Billings method works, charting with a trained instructor who can help identify and navigate your individual cycle is a really great way to learn and is the recommended route if you want to practice this method.

What I Tell My Friends 

I love that the science behind Billings is ridiculous. And I mean ridiculously good.

This method was developed by a husband and wife team of doctors, Drs. John and Evelyn Billings, who studied hundreds of thousands of woman’s cycles. From there they discovered that the cervical mucus of healthy women was always right in indicating the changing hormonal levels throughout their cycles, thus making way for determining patterns of fertility and non-fertility. The research began over 50 years ago and more and more studies, trials, and discoveries regarding what impacts woman’s cycles are still being done by doctors involved with the Billings Ovulation Method. The Billings method has been endorsed and validated by the World Health Organization, and even China has recognized the Billings method as an approved way of family planning. The effectiveness of the method when taught and practiced properly has been found to be much higher than the pill and condoms.

Practicing the Billings method is also a great way of monitoring not only your reproductive health but your health as a whole. More and more recent research and work with women who practice the Billings method is revealing how charting can be the earliest detector in a myriad of health issues including diabetes, thyroid issues, and many other health concerns. Charting is also a great way to monitor your reproductive health even through health issues such as cysts, polyps, endometriosis, etc. Personally I know that without charting I would not have discovered my own health concerns as the symptoms only appeared in my charting.

The Billings method treats all woman as unique individuals. This may at first glance seem trivial. The Billings method teaches that each woman can recognize her own signs of fertility without the need of objectifying or classifying her symptoms into predetermined categories or descriptors. A woman’s cycle is also always treated individually. Whether long or short, a cycle is treated as unique and a woman’s signs of fertility as recognizable no matter what day they may appear. This attitude reflects the importance of the individual woman, and not only her health but also her individual circumstances, spirituality, and family situation. The woman is never made to fit the method, the method simply works with the woman.

I feel that this approach is very appropriate because natural family planning has grown out of the belief of the inherent dignity and importance of the human person. The respect for life which is reflected in the rejection of artificial birth control and in turn the openness to life reaffirms the importance of the woman’s, the couple’s, and the family’s, individual participation in God’s creation which can only happen on an individual basis. By treating a woman as an individual even in the method itself the truth of the individual woman’s importance and dignity is reflected. This truth impacts the woman’s spirituality and her relationship with God which is a key part of her openness to life and the decisions she makes in regards to natural family planning.

Natural family planning is not easy, but it is rewarding for so many reasons. Being free from the chemicals of artificial contraception, the deeper intimacy and self-giving that the practice of NFP brings to spouses, the cooperation with God’s plan and openness to children, can bring so much to our lives. The choice not only to use NFP but also the choice of what method to use is an important one for women, their husbands, and families. For me the simplicity of the Billings method as well as the confidence the science of the method gives me makes natural family planning a little easier, and when something demands so much of you like natural family planning does its nice to find a method that suits you!

For more information:

http://www.thebillingsovulationmethod.org

http://www.woombinternational.org

http://www.boma-usa.org (To find teachers in the US)

http://www.billingslife.ca (To find teachers in Canada)

afterlight

Christy Isinger is a full-time, at-home, sometimes crazy mom to five(!) children aged 5 to newborn. She herds toddlers and tries to keep a chaotic but loving home in northern Alberta, Canada. You can keep up with the craziness at her blog fountains of home where she writes about family, living the Catholic faith, books, and other random observations and opinions. 

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Comments

  1. says

    Great post!
    After reading an article about the Billings on the italian catholic newspaper Avvenire, I was very curious.. thank you for sharing this!
    I know how important is charting your health.. I suffered from PMS and the only way to soothing it was learning how my body works :)
    xo, Paola

  2. says

    {Kathy} This is a great article. Thank you for being a positive role model for modern NFP users. The Billings Method is so easy once you get a handle on observations. The more PR it gets, the better.

  3. Kelsey says

    My husband and I practice Billings NFP and this article sheds a succinct, informative, and inspiring light on this method! Thank you so much for sharing!

  4. Raquel says

    My husband and. I have been using the Billings method since 2011 and I cannot say how blessed we’ve been from using this method. It has helped our marriage and I wish more people knew about the Billings method. Thank you for this very accurate post.

  5. Maria says

    Aha, thanks! I still don’t like the idea of having to check mucus and other gross-sounding things (why don’t they make up nice, pretty-sounding words when they’re naming these things?? snot, mucus, puberty, moist… ugh.) but the lack of realism involved in taking a temperature after eight hours of sleep (still nursing our eighteen-month-old a few times a night, and even if I wasn’t, it’s still … a bit unrealistic!) before I wake up is… unlikely at best. So I don’t think any other method would work well. So I’ll probably have to get over the words! ;]

    Maybe I missed this, but I’ve read your article twice now and didn’t see it — any recommendations for starting this? Did you go to a course/seminar/consultant/teacher/mentor? Or did you learn via researching it yourself? I don’t know how down I am with being instructed, I’d rather just learn, but then would be nice to have someone you could confer with if you get confused, and even if not but still during the beginning stages. Thought maybe you may have run across something like this, it sounds like you’ve put a bit of effort into reading up on it..

    Thanks for the post and all the info!

    Maria :]

    • says

      Good question Maria!

      I would highly recommend contacting an instructor in your area because that’s really the most effective way of learning. Its possible to learn on your own, but it really helps to have someone to guide you when you’re starting out and learning the signs of your own body. Its really nice to have a more experienced voice guiding you at the beginning so that you really get a handle on the rules and how to apply them, as well as differentiating the different signs of fertility. Once you’ve learned and have confidence you’ll be able to chart on your own and only have to contact a teacher if you have concerns. I know it can seem like a strange and really personal thing to discuss with someone else, but these teachers are really well trained and can really give important advice and support! If you go to the websites listed above you’ll be able to contact a teacher in your area and be able to get beginners instruction. Good luck!

    • says

      In my personal case, we’ve had two surprise pregnancies, both of which have shown that I have underlying health issues that negatively effect the ability to recognize my body’s signs of fertility. We’re still trying to resolve these issues.

      The Billings Method approaches 95-99% percent effectiveness among women, so obviously I am in the vast minority. I’ve also researched all the major methods of NFP and find Billings to be the simplest to use as well as having the most science and research behind it.

      • Maria says

        Well, I’m not Christy, but I was thinking I’d comment anyway… two thoughts mostly.. One is that not everyone employs NFP for avoiding pregnany.. Some use it for knowledge, some use it for achieving pregnancy.

        For example, my husband and I aren’t avoiding more kids right now, we’re probably even more leaning towards wanting more, but I’m thinking of starting charting because I want to be able to know what’s up. (Not that it matters, but I’ll share anyway, ha! — It’s been nearly a year-and-a-half since our youngest was born and I’ve yet to have any menses return and have no idea when my “return to fertility” will be/was…) I’d view just increasing my knowledge of what’s going on as a successful application..

        But then, there are also those who have, say, endometriosis, and they have decided that many pregnancies over a relatively short time is the way they’re going to try and go… so they might view five in as many years as a roaring success..

        Just depends on how you define successful! :]

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