Archive for the ‘Sympto-Thermal Method’ Category

Natural Family Planning: Why NFP International Is Needed

Sunday, July 26th, 2015

By the fall of 2004 it was becoming clear to us that the NFP organization we founded in 1971 was making changes or dropping the three main teachings we brought to that organization that had served people so well for the 32 years of our leadership.

These three main teachings are called the Triple Strand.  We think the Triple Strand is so good that it needs to be kept alive and spread– we think that everybody in the world has the right to know these things.  Further, we think that our two specific charisms (the eco-breastfeeding and the covenant theology) are special gifts from God and have been confirmed by the actions and words of St. John Paul II.  In addition, Dr. Konald Prem’s teaching of the sympto-thermal method is superior to other NFP methods and should continue to be taught.  Thus this was the main reason, among others, as to why we started NFP International.

Regarding ecological breastfeeding
In 1995 St. John Paul II co-hosted with the Royal Society of England a conference on breastfeeding at the Vatican.  In his talk, he endorsed the recommendations of UNICEF and the WHO for mothers to breastfeed for two years and beyond.  Frequent suckling is the only way that a mother will have a milk supply at 12, 18, and 24 months.  And the Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding are a mother’s best assurance of frequent suckling. Some couples use only eco-bf to space their babies apart.  We know of two mothers who have written a series of blogs about the Seven Standards.  One’s website was called something like “Crunchy Lutheran Mom.”  The other wrote for her diocesan paper in Ireland.

Regarding the Covenant theology
In 1994, ten years after he completed his opus magnum of the Theology of the Body, the Pope wrote a short document titled “Letter to Families from John Paul II.”  In it he specifically endorsed the covenant theology.  “In the conjugal act, husband and wife are called to confirm in a responsible way the mutual gift of self which they have made to each other in the marriage covenant.”  This may be the first time a Pope has used such terminology.  Scott Hahn, a rather famous convert, told me that I am the first person (of whom he is aware) to put that concept into writing.  I can’t prove or disprove his opinion, but I take it seriously because he is the best-read person I know.  My book, Birth Control and the Marriage Covenant, was the occasion for him and his wife to learn this when they were married students in a Protestant seminary.  At the time, Scott considered himself the most anti-Catholic member of the student body.  I consider it divine Providence that another couple in their married student housing complex lent that book to his wife, Kimberly, whose father was the fairly well known pastor of a Presbyterian church in North College Hill.

Regarding the Prem STM
In 1976-1978 the US Bishops NFP organization persuaded NIH to conduct a study to compare the Billings mucus-only system with the cross-checking sympto-thermal system.  The results were so much in favor of the STM that the investigators stopped the study.  The difference was something like twice as many unplanned pregnancies in the mucus-only section.  It was a randomized study, and the investigators could no longer pretend that they didn’t know which half of the study was more effective in avoiding pregnancy.  Yet two of the principal mucus-only advocates put up such a fuss that these results are by and large ignored.  All too many mucus-only advocates have the diocesan NFP jobs.

Soooooo, in a nutshell, that’s why we feel obliged to do what we can to keep these ideas alive.

John and Sheila Kippley
Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach
From July 19th to the evening of August 7th (NFP Awareness Week through World Breastfeeding Week) anyone can purchase the following printed books at a 40% discount at lulu:
Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach
The Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding: The Frequency Factor
Battle-Scarred: Justice Can Be Elusive
Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing

Some Natural Family Planning Questions

Sunday, July 6th, 2014

A man wrote asking several questions about NFP.  Here are John’s response to those questions or concerns.

Thanks for writing.  I will try to help.

1.  Couple with a serious reason to avoid pregnancy.  You have described a very difficult situation, and I can empathize with your priest.  However, he erred in saying that the couple in that situation can use contraception.  He should read my book, Sex and the Marriage Covenant: A Basis for Morality.  In a chapter on the formation of conscience, I quote Pope John Paul II over and over again to show that the teaching reaffirmed by Casti Connubii and Humanae Vitae is binding and cannot be changed.  It is not a matter of situation ethics.  In the situation you describe, I would recommend that the couple abstain from relations from the beginning of menstruation until a combination of signs indicate that she is in postovulation infertility.  A woman who is ovulating will have a temperature shift after ovulation as well as having her mucus dry up.  The couple might want to wait for what we call a Rule C interpretation or add one day to the other rules.

I highly recommend that you get a copy of our current manual, Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach at You can download it, but I recommend getting the paper copy with the spiral binding.

2.  Comparative research has shown that the cross-checking sympto-thermal method is more effective than mucus by itself.  I don’t know what you mean by a normal sleep pattern.  We have seen “ideal” charts from a nurse who worked constantly changing shifts.  We address these issues in our manual.  Few mothers of young children have no interruptions of sleep for weeks on end, and that is usually not a problem.  The important thing is to follow the temperature-taking guidelines in our manual.

3.  The question about menopause is too vague for an answer.  Menopause can be a difficult time because ovulation becomes less frequent.  If a woman is well experienced in both the mucus and cervix signs, she can identify the fertile and infertile times very well and can engage in the marriage act with a relative lack of abstinence.  However, if they are very fearful of pregnancy, then the best thing to do, barring gaining confidence in her observations, is to abstain until her signs say she is in post-ovulation infertility.

The Gospel for this past Sunday dealt with the teaching of Jesus about the need to accept and carry our cross daily.  There is no doubt that the practice of marital chastity provides a cross, sometimes light and sometimes heavy.  It is also true that the cross is the price of discipleship.

If you have more questions after you have studied our current manual, feel free to write or call.

In His service,
John F. Kippley
PS:  The man’s Response to John:  “Your response gets to the heart of the matter and helps much. Thank you. (and thanks for the prompt reply).”

Natural Family Planning: A Debate Once Settled

Sunday, September 22nd, 2013

The Catholic Church is the only real hope of this country.  The Protestant churches have all caved on the matter of birth control, most of the them have caved on abortion, and I’m not sure how many will stand firm against sodomy as marriage.  Logically, the acceptance of contraception entails the acceptance of sodomy, as was predicted and then fulfilled in the Church of England.

The importance of the Catholic Church is what makes our work so frustrating.

Also frustrating is the fact that the US  Bishops started the Human Life Foundation in 1968 which then succeeded in getting the NIH to run a comparative study of the Ovulation Method (OM) and the Sympto-Thermal Method  (STM) in 1976-1978.  What they found was that the STM was so superior to the OM that they discontinued the study early.  The professional ethics of the investigators would not allow them to put people into the OM side after they were certain that the STM was superior.  As the study reported, “It is of interest that after couples were informed in August, 1978, that a statistically significant trend in the pregnancy rates between the OM and STM groups had been found, almost all of the STM volunteers continued in training and virtually all of the OM volunteers requested to be, and were, thoroughly trained in STM.”

Drs. John Billings and Thomas Hilgers raised objections, apparently forgetting that any faults of the study applied to both sides, and their comments had no effect on the final report in 1981.  So after the bishops got this study, the various diocesan offices seem to ignore it.  It seems to me that dioceses do more promotion of the OM than any other program.  The user effectiveness of the OM in that study was just under 61%.  The Joanne Doud study of the Creighton Model reported a user effectiveness of 96% but when standard statistics were applied (counting the pregnancies that the couples themselves said were unplanned), the rate was 67%.  Yet dioceses seem to think that this is the way to go.

I have to wonder if one reason for the failure of the Church to persuade great numbers of couples to use only natural methods might be that the imperfect-use rates of the most touted systems are in the same ballpark as the Calendar Rhythm that they sometimes compare and criticize.

I am convinced that the bishops need to adopt a core curriculum for NFP that will give couples sufficient information so that they will be able to make informed choices about which signs they want to use or not use.  What we have had for the last 45 years has not been working.  I think it’s time to have both a mandated course and that such a course be sufficiently complete.

John Kippley