Cheating at NFP

When we first got married, I feel pressure (from myself) to make sure that we followed the rules of our NFP method exactly.  I did want to be the one to show that NFP does work to postpone pregnancy.  It was important for us to avoid, so it was equally important for us to follow the guidelines of the method (which included abstinence if unsure about that days observations).  I do think that the success of using NFP is partially equivalent to the seriousness of avoiding pregnancy.  Imagine my surprise then, when I discovered on an online NFP forum that there were what seemed like multitudes of women who had ‘accidentally’ used a day and were concerned at the possibility of pregnancy.

I realize that I am a naive, recently married, and now sub-fertile woman with a whole life of supposed ‘fertility’ left, so there are many situations that I have yet to encounter in my marriage (that honestly, right now, does include a fair amount of sex – did you notice the sub-fertile part?) but I was amazed at the number of women that basically seemed to ‘cheat’* at the rules of NFP.  This is not an admonishment (and I did learn about this back in my blissful “I must be fertile because my sister is” phase), but I started to wonder if I was in the minority of couples who rigorously followed the rules.

So a nosy question to all those who have used NFP to avoid pregnancy: I am curious, have you ever ‘cheated’ at NFP?  Do you regularly cheat?  Cheating for the sake of discussion here is when you knowingly break the guidelines of your method of NFP, i.e., when you knowingly decide to have intercourse on a fertile or unsure day, despite previously deciding to not attempt to achieve pregnancy. I do also want to say that understand about the frustration that accompanies long abstinence required during breast-feeding, but I still want to include being unsure about your signs s breaking the rules of NFP here.

So my answer first (because once upon a time, we did use NFP to avoid pregnancy).  We have used the peak + 3 evening before and I remember feeling the need to tell someone that we technically could be pregnant that month, just so they wouldn’t blame it on the method!  And I remember being really excited (hence my hypothesis that not all cheating is really cheating after all) at the possibility of pregnancy.

If you don’t want me or others to see your name, please feel free to make up a name/email or comment as anonymous.  I promise no judging, I’m just trying to gauge if couples generally follow the rules to the tee or not.  Thanks!

*And yes, I get the awkwardness of using the word cheat to define a personal decision between you and your spouse, so please forgive me.  Or suggest a better word?

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27 thoughts on “Cheating at NFP

  1. I guess the way I looked at it was no so much cheating – because how can you cheat a natural method – but yes. We have charted correctly and used a loose interpretation of the rules. As in, peak was a couple days ago, I’m pretty sure the egg is not around anymore but the chart says stop. We knowingly in one month said we’re not going to try, but we’re not going to be super strict around the edges of the fertile phase.

    When serious about avoiding – the first couple months – we were strict about the rules and that led to up to three weeks of waiting. When it’s not as serious reasons, three weeks just doesn’t seem necessary :-) We’ll see how much I “cheat” during the time I’m breastfeeding.

  2. I don’t know if what we did is considered “cheating” but my husband and I were virgins when we got married, and so we didn’t really want to wait on our wedding night. That night I was at the beginning of the fertile window, technically I was supposed to ovulate 5 days after that, so we knew we could get pregnant, but it was still not a given, you know? Well, turns out I ovulated early that month, and I got pregnant.

    So, we didn’t follow the conservative rules, and we did end up pregnant, which is a blessing.

    But anyways, when I do talk to people about NFP and they see that we have a honeymoon baby, I say that I knew we could get pregnant. Because it wasn’t the method, it was that we didn’t follow the rules conservatively.

    But then of course, by cheating you can end up pregnant too.

  3. We were real strict with the rules at first. I think it was after two years of marriage, we started to “Cheat” once in a while. We’d have sex at the beginning of the day, like the day after my period ended. Sometimes on peek + 1, 2, or 3 days we’d ‘overlook’ the rules. There were just sometimes we didn’t want to wait till the final reading at night and would have sex in the middle of the day or morning during the pre-peek phase.

  4. We were really diligent about avoiding. I don’t recall ever cheating or taking advantage of a risky day, to the point where, even though we were both virgins when we got married, we didn’t get to consummate until after our honeymoon was over. I was fertile all during our honeymoon, then we were at his parents house, then at my mother’s house…it ended up being about 10 days until we finally had the opportunity.

  5. We have never cheated. At first it was both of us who wanted to follow the rules very strictly and then some, Greg because he was wary of the method and me because I didn’t want people to think it didn’t work! Then later on, once Greg was convinced, I started to feel like our reasons weren’t as serious and I would get a tiny bit frustrated that he wouldn’t cheat :)

    As for during breastfeeding, that’s part of the reason we switched to Marquette – it seems like it’ll be easier to follow their rules! Although it’ll be interesting to see how closely we do follow the rules once my fertility does return – our previous reasons to postpone are long gone now, so I sense some good conversations on the topic when Aunt Flo returns!

  6. We never “cheated” on the rules. When we have a reason to avoid…we have a reason to avoid – so we do. We’re VERY conservative by nature and we are also instructors (hi Jenelle!) for both STM and OM. We have so many people around us that don’t believe NFP works to avoid a pregnancy, so we are careful not to prove them right.

    People seem genuinely shocked to find that we only have one 26 month old son and are not pregnant again (yet), especially when they hear that we would like to have a “large” family. We’ve had consistent serious reasons for about 2 years to avoid a pregnancy so we have been conservative with the rules. I keep thinking we should’ve joined that Marquette study a long time ago…but we had been hoping for so long that our reason for avoiding would go away so we could start trying for baby #2 and beyond.

    Finally, our reason has resolved and we are trying again so now we are very faithfully following our rules to conceive. We were successful at conceiving, but unfortunately, we lost our little one between 7-8 weeks back in November. This time around it’s been much more challenging to achieve a pregnancy (age is a factor – I’m 35; and I have a luteal phase defect that we are working to correct).

  7. I am smiling over here b/c I was going to say we never cheat and thought that was an honest answer, but I haven’t really been charting since I had my son 12 weeks ago (and hence, had constant bleeding due to retained clots, sorry TMI) and we have just begun being intimate so I guess that is cheating. Or maybe it is just not using the method at this time? I want to go back to Creighton asap, I love that method, but a) my gal is late in getting me the charts and b) more importantly I just keep forgetting to observe when I go to the restroom.. When we actively use it, we were very strict about using it correctly and very happy about the results for both avoiding pregnancy and also dx and tx IF and achieving. p.s. Got your email and, again, smiiling. Glad it was taken in the spirit it was meant and very glad you took the time to email :)

  8. I honeslty can’t understand the concept of cheating on NFP. We have been married for almost 10 years and have only used charting to try to get pregnant, but have NEVER conceived so it kinda becomes a mute point.
    I guess coming from someone who has horrible pain (due to endo) during intercourse, we have been abstaining for long periods of time during the 10 years and is not a big deal to us. And I do say “us” because my husband loves me so much that he would never want to hurt me or use me. Yes, I did marry the best man with the most awesome self control and he is great at fulfilling my love languages (quality time and gifts) dailty and is super affectionate. Our marriage gets better every day/week/year!!

  9. We sorta used NFP to avoid pregnancy at first…but it quickly became obvious that Houston we have a problem. So, we just lived our lives being open to life.

  10. No cheating for us! As many have said, if the reasons for avoiding are just and serious enough, the temptation to cheat just isn’t there. Heck, we went almost 4 months of abstaining between coming off of birth control and feeling confident in our charting ability – when compared to 4 months, a couple of weeks here and there is nothin’.

  11. My hubby and I have been practicing NFP for a little over two years now. I’m a pretty self-controlled person, so to me it’s always been simple – we can’t get pregnant right now, so we practice NFP to the best of our ability (no sex after day 6/peak + 3 days). If a couple is “cheating,” that just tells me that they’re more open to a pregnancy at that point in time. I’d be too scared to cheat – we def. don’t have the finances right now to have a baby and hubby still has more school ahead of him. ;)

  12. We never cheated. Although there were some days I would’ve liked to! DH was a firm “no” on that. Although now that I look back on all my wacky charts, I wonder if I actually followed the rules the way a “normal” cycle does…I have PCOS, so my temps and mucus took a LONG time to change to Phase 3 with the STM. And we would wait that super long time, but I’m wondering now if I ever even ovulated some of those cycles (doc thinks I didn’t)…therefore I wouldn’t be a good candidate to say that TTA successfully worked.

    I’m actually wondering if I’m going to stop charting/practicing NFP altogether since I know now that the likelihood of me conceiving naturally (without the help of 3 different prescription medications) is virtually nil. But then that’d make an “unplanned” miracle baby all the more special :)

  13. Oh, we “cheating” big time… which, I guess, in our case, is less of a “cheating” thing (though we do still have some reasons to avoid) and more of a “well… lessee!” thing.

  14. We cheated once on day 10 of my pretty regular 28 day cycle. We now have a wonderful almost 2 year old to show for that. We have not cheated since. We have pretty serious financial reasons to abstain, but I’m so glad we thought we were invincible and turned out not to be. I have been “lurking” on your blog for a while and want you to know you and your husband are in my prayers.

  15. We are major cheaters. When we were avoiding with STM, we had two anovulatory cycles (1st 2 postpartum cycles), so we said we’d just assume cycle 3 would be anovulatory as well. We all know what assuming does to you and me…the baby we conceived was sadly miscarried at 13 wks. We are now avoiding again after the birth of baby #2, this time using Creighton. Our only reason for avoiding is spacing, since we have been married three years and have two children and one in heaven, and I’m only 22 so we are looking at 15 kids here if we don’t space. However, I guess we’re just not that motivated anyway. I would not cheat if my cycles were being normal. We just finished our second pp cycle. It was 28 days, and every day except my period was white babies. We have used day 2 of the count of 3 like three times now, and used mucus days in the pre-peak phase based on the assumption that I won’t be ovulating for a while yet. So far we are not pregnant. We’ll see how much cheating we get away with though…

  16. I like how with Creighton they ask you how open you are to an unexpected pregnancy. It forces you to think up front… are we going to be strict about this or are we pretty open to whatever happens? You can look back on your paperwork and see… okay, we went into this without a strong resolve to avoid pregnancy (if that’s the case), it’s documented right there! I really feel like with NFP, you get all the info and you know your chances, making it hard to say you “cheated”… you just weighed your options and decided the “risk” was worth it. ;)

    That said, we follow pretty our charts pretty closely because we are only 5 months into using the method and we want to make sure learn it properly. But right now, pregnancy is unlikely anyway, so the fact that we are not pregnant really isn’t impressive lol (although I do have confidence that Creighton and other methods are very effective).

  17. We cheated (or so we thought!) during our very first cycle as a married couple! I was in my fertile time (so I thought) during our honeymoon. :) We did not follow the rules, and figured, if we were going to get pregnant right away, so be it. But it turned out that it was a false peak and I wasn’t actually ovulating during our honeymoon, but I’d still consider it cheating, because we *thought* I was and didn’t follow the rules.

    Of course, we were still NFP newbies and using STM, which doesn’t really teach about double-peak, so we thought I had ovulated, and *then* I got pregnant a few weeks after our return from Mexico! oops. That was the pregnancy I miscarried.

    It’s funny because, after that miscarriage, we have been trying ever since. So although we’ve been married for a little over two years, we have never been avoiding (except for like one month). I think since I am postpartum we will be extra careful to follow the rules until we are ready to start trying for another baby.

  18. Since using NFP we haven’t “cheated.” But then again we were never wanting to avoid. The exception to that was the 9 months we were told we had to avoid by our Creighton Doc due to my hormones that were so unbelievably wacked out that my chance of miscarriage was so insanely high. During that time we definitely didn’t cheat because we were terrified. I didn’t find it too hard with the exception of the first few months that we had to not only avoid but abstain totally.

  19. I’m not sure if abstaining is cheating but I feel like it is…..until o get back on the habit of charting it’s gonna have to be it. Though I’m not ready for a pregnancy if it should happen I wld gladly take it. This is my first time in 5 years having to even think of and avoiding at this time. It feels odd.

  20. We cheat all of the time, but I really like to think of it as educated rule breaking, or cutting corners.

    The first year we were not regular rule breakers, though; we intentionally broke the rules a couple of times. But, those times we knew we could get pregnant and would have been okay with it. (One of these times was on our honeymoon, 4 months after we got married. Actually, that was more like ignoring the rules.)

    Being 13 months PP without a return to fertility, we cut corners regularly. This is mostly because of a lot of changes in mucus, and we don’t want to wait for 4 days of return to a BIP. 2 is good enough for me. It helps that last time I had a long, very obvious return of fertile mucus (7 days of obviously fertile mucus.)

    All in all, I feel like we make educated decisions to break rules based on what we are comfortable with after practicing NFP for 5.5 years. But we also know we want more children, if not right now. If things were more serious, it would be different.

  21. During the first 1.5 years of our marriage we were pretty strict with NFP. During that 1.5 years we felt we were not ready to be parents for a whole host of reasons and felt that we were called to abstain during fertile times. I also secretly wanted to prove to my MIL that NFP does in fact work (she isnt a big fan of Catholics or anything Catholics believe). Sadly there were many times when she would lecture and yell at me about how stupid I am for choosing NFP. Yes, yes, i know it is not very Christ-Like of me for wanting to prove her wrong.

    After a while we knew we were ready to start having children and decided to “cheat” around the edges of fertility, so we could dip our toes into the reproductive world for about 6 months and then going full force.

  22. What to my wondering eyes should appear, but YOU and your hubby in the latest *Family Foundations*! How fun! You’re beautiful!

    I wouldn’t call it cheating… I prefer “taking a risk” or “taking a chance.” If one or both of us are not willing to “take a risk” or “take a chance” (though there are varying degrees here, and given that my youngest is not quite 16 months and I’ve only had 2 ovulatory cycles, roughly 20 days a month are somewhat risky while my cycles get back to normal), then I know we shouldn’t be making love. Right now I’m focusing on getting in shape and taking care of some other health issues. During my fertile window, though, I’m definitely getting the longing for a baby. In a few months we’ll really be open and/or trying, I think. I kind of hesitate to NOT take a risk, because in the back of my mind I’m fearful that we’ll “only” have 2, and we both want more, so I’m afraid I’d always regret not being more open now, if it turns out later that we have trouble.

    What a wonderful question!

  23. We cheated on our honeymoon, but we really didn’t know the rules well yet. I didn’t get pregnant. That was the last time we bent the rules. It has been a year and 9 months. I know we have a grave reason for avoiding, but sometimes I would want to cheat, both for the unitive and procreative aspects of the act– I really want to be a mother, and raise children for God. But my husband is more practical than I am, and so we haven’t cheated again.

  24. Interesting question! I’m nursing on cue for hours day and evening, and probably not fertile, but my signs are confusing. Now is a horrible time to get pregnant again and I still have postpartum pain and no libido from the nursing. That said, after 3.5 years of not conceiving, I still have trouble believing I could get pregnant, even with our 6 month evidence to the contrary asleep in her bassinet. Add to that the rarity of being awake during a time when both kids are sleeping–it is not compelling to avoid during the rare times it could actually happen.

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