Use of Natural Family Planning (NFP) and Its Effect on Couple Relationships and Sexual Satisfaction: A Multi-Country Survey of NFP Users from US and Europe

Front Public Health. 2017 Mar 13:5:42. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2017.00042. eCollection 2017.


Purpose: Birth control is a persistent global health concern. Natural family planning (NFP) comprises methods to achieve or avoid pregnancy independent of mechanical or pharmacological intervention. The sympto-thermal method (STM) of NFP employs daily observation of cervical fluids and measurement of basal body temperature. This multi-country study was undertaken to describe the characteristics of STM users, understand their perceptions of NFP, and its perceived impact on relationships.

Methods and results: Questionnaires for women and men were developed in German and translated to English, Polish, Italian, Czech, and Slovak by native speakers. A total of 2,560 respondents completed the online questionnaire (37.4% response). Participants were married (89%) and well educated, and their self-perceived financial status was described as "good" or "very good" by 65% of the respondents. Forty-seven percent had previously used contraceptives. Ninety-five percent of women and 55% of men said using NFP has helped them to know their body better. Large majorities of men (74%) and women (64%) felt NFP helped to improve their relationship while <10% felt use of NFP had harmed their relationship. Most women (53%) and men (63%) felt using NFP improved their sex life while 32% of women and 24% of men felt it was unchanged from before they used NFP. Seventy-five percent of women and 73% of men said they are either "satisfied" or "very satisfied" with their frequency of sexual intercourse.

Conclusion: This survey demonstrates STM of NFP is a well-accepted approach to family planning across several Western cultures. It is consistently viewed as being beneficial to couples' self-knowledge, their relationship, and satisfaction with frequency of sexual intercourse.

Keywords: multi-country study; natural family planning; relationship; sexual satisfaction; sympto-thermal method.