Natural Family Planning & the Creighton Method:
A Man's Perspective

by Leo

 


My wife and I had heard about natural family planning before we had our first child but had dismissed it. We were not to be ruled by the natural rhythms of our bodies and we certainly didn’t want to get familiar with bodily functions. But our hostility was mainly due to the fear that using natural family planning would involve having to talk about sex. It is that paradox which is part of sex – physically it’s a close as you’ll ever get but emotionally and spiritually you can be miles apart.

In truth it was probably me that feared having to talk about sex so much. I didn’t want to talk about it and I think my wife was tired of trying to get me to talk about it. So we resorted to the Pill and, immediately after coming off the pill we resorted to, perhaps the most natural contraceptive of them all, pregnancy.

The birth of our son changed everything, including our attitude to sex. It’s hard to deny that your body is part of nature when you witness the birth of a human being – what could be more natural, more basic, more messy? Suddenly scruples about the body’s natural rhythms and functions seemed rather pathetic. Some friends had been using the Creighton method and so we decided to give it a go. I remember thinking at the time that it was one of the easiest decisions we’d ever made collectively.

Intimate couple  The first session shocked me immediately. This was because I had had no idea how the contraceptive pill worked. I hadn’t realised that the pill (and this applies to all types of pill) doesn’t always stop conception, but tries to make it impossible for a fertilised egg to implant. I was taken aback. I thought, how many of our little sons have we created and then destroyed? This realisation only made the Creighton method more compelling. What I didn’t realise at the time was the pressure that this decision would put us under.

Creighton works by enabling you to identify days when sex will lead to conception. The woman observes her body’s signs on a daily basis and the husband records them. With Creighton, you can’t have sex whenever you want. There will be times when you do want it but you can’t have it conversely you may find that during the times when you can have sex you don’t feel like it. For me this was a great source of pressure. Pressure to have sex during the times that you can. Pressure to stay close together so that you feel like having sex at the right time. Pressure to live up to the undeniable righteousness of the Creighton method. (It’s not easy to avoid having sex during fertile periods – that tends to be when you most want it). Pressure of recording how often you have sex. I used to think that we had a pretty healthy sex life but the chart doesn’t lie. Then there’s the pressure of remembering to record the observations each night and avoid being asked that daily rhetorical question (why are women so good at asking rhetorical questions?): "Have you done Creighton?".

For me (the shy retiring type), the greatest pressure was in having our sex life out there in the open between us. Our sex life seemed to take on a personality of its own like one of those little devils (or angels) that stand on a character’s shoulders in the cartoons. It demanded to be treated with care and, worst of all, attention. It wouldn’t just come and visit us whenever I felt like it. We had to go out and invite it into our lives and there’d be no guarantee that it would want to join the party. I found this hard. I was used to responding to urges, not creating them.

 

woman holding baby flanked by the father Fortunately – and this is the masterstroke of the Creighton method – if you do the method properly, you’re encouraged to talk about sex. And actually it helps you to get quite good at it – I mean talking about, rather than doing it. Although, having said that, I like to think that our sex life has improved somewhat over the last few months. And why wouldn’t it? Creighton encourages you todiscuss intimate bodily functions, rather than just perform them. It is a collaborative effort to work with your bodies. But you do have to work at it; it wont’ happen by itself. For example, the man must be attentive and take a keen interest in his wife’s observations. As with most forms of family planning, the woman does most of the running and with Creighton she brings a lot to the table. She is the one who has to observe and relate information about her body. Technically all the man has to do is record the information but if that is all he does, how will this make the woman feel? The man must take an interest and know as much, if not more, about the Creighton method and the woman’s body than the women herself. With the Creighton method the woman may learn things about her body that 21st century society would have her pretend don’t exist. If she is not supported in this voyage of self-discovery she can start to feel like she’s ploughing a very lonely furrow.

If I had my time again, I would have adopted Creighton as soon as we got married. It’s true what they tell you in marriage preparation – children do have an impact on your sex life. Sometimes they actually interrupt you, but most of the time you’re just too tired. For us, putting Creighton into that mix was a big ask. For me, if I’m too tired to do something, I’m definitely too tired to talk about it and I wondered whether it mattered if the observations were recorded or not; there’s no danger of getting pregnant if you’re not having sex. There was always a danger with us that we would use the fertile periods as an excuse for avoiding all physical contact and just roll over and go longingly to sleep. Recently I’ve realised that this was a great missed opportunity. If you use the fertile periods to be close without having sex, it can be very romantic and very stimulating. Such closeness reminds me of the very exciting, wonderful time with my wife, before we were married when we were just getting to know each other. Sex was out of bounds but outside of that restriction, we managed to discover a lot about each other’s bodies and it was lovely. Creighton gives us the opportunity to revisit those times and that is for me a source of great joy.

I’ve learnt that in marriage, sex is not just the icing on the cake, it’s the egg (or whatever that special ingredient is) that binds it together. For us, Creighton presented a big challenge but ultimately it was one that was well worth taking on.

 


John’s Testimony:

The Creighton Model Natural Fertility Management was a real eye opener for me. Society sees fertility management, whether natural or otherwise, as the woman's responsibility. Men get let off the hook.

The beauty of the Creighton Model is that the man is fully involved - talking to his wife about her fertility, helping her to chart and, in my case, pasting the different coloured stickers in the Creighton booklet!

Talking to one another about fertility management helps deepen intimacy between husband and wife. We learn to respect one another's bodies. For example, I have a greater appreciation of why my wife may be feeling as she is at certain times of the month and can adapt my behaviour accordingly.

 

 

 

In terms of natural fertility management, men need not be spectators. The Creighton model ensures that we aren't.

 

WANT TO KNOW MORE?

 

 

Couple in water

 

IF YOU or someone you know would like to know more about Natural Family Planning, and the Creighton Method in particular, then please visit one of the following websites:

fertilitycarecentre.co.uk

creightonmodel.com

naprotechnology.com

lifefertilitycare.co.uk

 

MAXIMUM FERTILITY FOR MEN

As men, we too have to prepare our bodies for maximum fertility. Below are five important points to bear in mind:

1-Stop smoking. It lowers sperm count and causes abnormality in sperm

2-Stop drinking caffeine. It can affect sperm health.

3-Cut out alcohol. A man can wipe out his sperm count for several months in one heavy night!

4-Eat plenty of nutrients. Zinc, vitamin C and oily fish are excellent sources of nutrients.

5-Avoid saunas. Shower after exercise but avoid jacuzzis and saunas which raise the temperature of the genitals.