Interest in natural family planning among female family practice patients

Fam Pract Res J. 1994 Sep;14(3):237-49.


Objective: Although modern methods of natural family planning (NFP) are effective both to avoid and to achieve pregnancy, relatively few women use these methods. It is not known whether this is due primarily to lack of interest or to other factors. We therefore explored the level of interest in NFP among female family practice patients.

Methods: We mailed information about NFP to 400 female patients between ages 21 and 42 and conducted follow-up interviews by telephone. We excluded 162 women for whom we could not obtain accurate addresses or phone numbers, 68 women we could not reach by telephone, 67 women who were not currently at risk of pregnancy, and 15 women for other reasons. Twenty-eight women refused to participate in the study. Sixty women completed telephone interviews.

Results: Forty-three percent of respondents (n = 60) were interested in learning more about NFP, 24% said they were likely to use NFP to avoid pregnancy, and 32% were likely to use NFP to achieve pregnancy. Younger women and women who were Christian but not Catholic and not of a major Protestant denomination were more interested in NFP.

Conclusion: Some female family practice patients are interested in learning and using NFP.

PIP: In the summer of 1990 in Columbia, Missouri, a student conducted telephone interviews with 60 women aged 21-42 who had attended an academic family medicine clinic between June 1988 and June 1989 and had received information about natural family planning (NFP) in the mail to determine their level of interest in NFP and what characteristics are associated with interest in NFP. The women were most familiar with the basal body temperature method (43%), the calendar method (39%), and the cervical mucus method (30%). 43% of the women wanted to learn more about NFP. 24% of them were interested in using NFP to prevent pregnancy. 32% of them were interested in using NFP to conceive. Only 35% of the women knew that the body temperature changes after ovulation. Women who were most interested in NFP were those of the nondenominational Christian, Unitarian, Pentecostal, and Charismatic faiths (miscellaneous Christian); young women (age 33 or younger); those who strongly identified with their religion; and those who reported that religion had a strong influence on their choice of family planning method (p 0.05 for all aforementioned characteristics) and those who knew about the change in basal body temperature associated with the postovulatory phase of the cycle (p 0.01). Women most likely to use NFP to prevent pregnancy were miscellaneous Christians and those familiar with the thermal shift in the menstrual cycle (p 0.05). Young women were most likely to use NFP to conceive (p 0.05). Limitations of this study included: a restricted sample (out of 400 letters sent, there were only 60 successful contacts who happened to be well educated and middle class); possible self-reporting bias, especially for questions of a sensitive nature; and self-reported interest does not necessarily mean that they will use NFP. Nevertheless, women in a primary care clinic may be interested in NFP.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Christianity
  • Contraception / methods
  • Demography
  • Family Planning Services / methods*
  • Family Practice
  • Female
  • Health Education
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Natural Family Planning Methods*
  • Sampling Studies