Religiosity and Desire for Tuture Pregnancy Stimulates Choice for NFP
Natural Family Planning

Richard J. Fehring
Reprint from Current Medical Research
Vol 15, No 1-2, Winter/Spring 2004
Washington, DC
Reproduced with Permission

Past studies have shown that when women (in the United States and Germany) are presented with information on NFP in a positive light, about 20%- 40% will indicate that they have interest in using NFP for family planning purposes. However, there are only about 2.3% of US women and about 7% of German women who choose to actually use NFP. Researchers recently conduced a study to determine why there is such a disparity in the interest and use of NFP among women in developed countries.1 A detailed 14-page questionnaire was administered to 456 women from Berlin and 404 women from Cracow during their post-partum hospital stay. Of these 860 women, 223 or 49% of the Berlin women and 233 or 58% of the Cracow women returned a aufficient questionnaire. Of these women 60% indicated they would consider using NFP, and of these women, 54% actually chose to use NFP with or without condoms. Therefore, 14% of all the women in the study chose to use NFP. The mean age of the Berlin women was 28.4 years and about 89% had completed at least secondary education; the Cracow women had a mean age of 27.1 years and close to 95% had at least a secondary education.

The results showed that those who would consider using NFP (as opposed to those who would not) were more likely to have used NFP in the past, have good knowledge of NFP, have a desire for a future child, perceived that NFP methods were accurate, felt that periodic abstinence was good for their relationship and gave high importance to religious beliefs. Those who actually chose to use NFP (as opposed to those who did not) had the additional factors of "being married and having only one child." The researchers then conducted a regression analysis on the outcome items of "interest to use" and the "choice to use" NFP and found that knowledge of NFP, past use of NFP and expected effects of abstinence were associated with interest of NFP. However, desire for future pregnancy, location in Cracow, and the importance of religion were associated with the choice to use NFP. The researchers cautioned that the results of the study are limited by the fact the participants were postpartum and fairly well educated women. They concluded that the results suggest that increased access and cultural support would likely lead to a higher use of NFP in developed countries.


Almost 99% of the Cracow women were Catholic as opposed to only 7.8% of the Berlin women. I suspect that the location factor in choice of use of NFP was influenced by the facl that Cracow is a very Catholic and religious city. The authors speculated that the use of NFP is not necessarily associated with a denomination but rather with the belief that fertility is a divine gift. (Editor: Richard J Fehring, DNSC, R.N.)


1 Mikolajczyk, R.T., Stanford, J.B., & Rauchfuss, M. Factors influencing the choice to use modern natural family planning. Contraception. 2003;67:253-258. [Back]