Natural Family Planning: Nature's Way - God's Way

28. Education of the Couple and Responsible Parenthood

Teaching Natural Methods cannot be included in antinatalist campaigns as just another technique designed to impede the transmission of life. Periodic continence is a way of life, and should be presented as an element which helps the couple educate their sexuality at the level of sexual control and clear information on the function of their genital organs.

Marriage counselors are mindful that one of the main conflicts facing the couple in their married life is the "quality" of sexual relations. This depends on several factors:

1. Biological sexuality. Many couples marry with this concept of human sexuality; they ignore the value of sex because of deficient education in this area. For many of them, sex is simply an instinctive biological function, as seen in animals.

This mistaken notion of sexuality must be clarified since sexuality with human dimensions, above the animal level, allows both partners to fulfil themselves as individuals.

This natural sexual drive between the two sexes can and must be controlled by the intelligence and will which characterize the human being; so it is not a blind force, uncontrollable as in animals. This implies self-restraint, respect for the spouse and self-esteem, all of which result from an adequate sex education.

Living sexed beings can be divided into three levels. Plants have the most elemental level of sexuality; to be fertilized by pollen, the flower opens up, producing a fruit which will provide seed to ensure the plant's survival.

On the next level, animals represent another type of sexuality, mainly characterized by its instinctive nature which enables the male to recognize the female's fertile period to mate with her in order to reproduce their own kind. Thus animal sexuality is successful in conservation of the species.

The highest level of sexuality corresponds to man, the only being of creation capable of loving. This potential develops in accordance with the family and social environment surrounding the individual. Thus love is the distinctive feature of human sexuality, in addition to the human's typical attributes of intelligence and will, which allow the couple to control their sexual drive. This is why humans are capable of responsible sexuality. instinct has to be rejected as an element of human sexuality, as a blind uncontrollable impulse. When a person has experienced human sexuality, he can well understand responsible parenthood, enabling him to be mindful of when and how he transmits life.

2. Ignorance about the function of the genitalia, and about female physiology: It is known that men constantly produce sperm, and for this reason they are constantly fertile (except in special cases of infertility). Both sperm and a "viable" ovum (apt for fertilization) are needed to produce a new life. This points to the conclusion that for a pregnancy to begin, intercourse must occur during the woman's fertile period which can be determined by the signs of ovulation -genital wetness and change in basal temperature.

This lack of knowledge regarding the biological aspects of sex is observed during pre-marital courses. It is well known that young couples do not want to have a child right after being married, and therefore resort to contraception, also ignoring the consequences that the use of these methods entails. As time goes by, problems which affect family life begin to emerge. This fact has helped gain many followers for natural family planning, because once a couple has clear knowledge of sexual physiology, they can stop using contraceptives and maintain adequate sexual relations.

When a couple has intercourse, knowing in advance the result of this act, the quality of coitus varies in that the act will not be conditioned by the uncertainty of pregnancy, nor by the use of contraceptives; both partners can give themselves freely, with no restrictions.

3. Sexual taboo: This problem still exists in some couples who consider sex to be bad; consequently they commit several mistakes that necessarily affect their married life.

This taboo stems from deficient sex education. Ignorance about these aspects was replaced by the negative concept that sex is something bad. In these conditions, marriage was considered, unilaterally, as a solution to human lustfulness.

This concept has been completely reassessed since human sexuality is part of God's plan, and his making cannot be defective.

These considerations make it possible to understand why natural family planning betters the couple's human qualities. On one hand it helps them know each other better and favors the control of their sex drive, guiding them towards responsible sexuality which in turn leads to responsible parenthood. This is why it was stated right from the start that more than a technique it is a way of life.

by Maria Teresa Forero de Ramos, M.D.

Dr. Ramos works in Latin America

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