Frequently asked questions


Why are many medical professionals opposed to NFP?

Short answer: Everyone has their own reasons, but ignorance usually plays a part.

We have experienced some medical professionals referring to NFP as the “rhythm-blues” or being told in medical school to avoid the NFP section in the textbook because it simply doesn’t work. Sigh. We'll say it ourselves: traditional NFP marketing sucks. NFP is ill-advertised and ill-funded. As such, many healthcare providers lack the education and exposure to properly understand (and therefore promote and teach) NFP to couples. Interestingly enough, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends teaching adolescents about their cycle, calling it the “fourth vital sign” to monitor. Educating healthcare providers about NFP is where we, as a team, need to start. If your doctor is adamantly opposed to working within the realms of NFP, feel free to ask someone on the Serena team to see if we can help you find a doctor that fits right for you and your family. Additionally, if your doctor is willing to work with you and NFP but needs more information or resources, feel free to ask us for information. Hopefully, we can help to relieve any anxieties or doubts you may have as well as dispel any NFP myths.

Is NFP the rhythm method?

Short answer: No. The rhythm method is a method of NFP, but one that is out of date and unreliable.

Unfortunately, NFP is all too commonly mistaken for the rhythm method. While the rhythm method is a form of NFP, it is not one that we would recommend because there are more sophisticated methods that are proven to be effective for avoiding pregnancy (such as Serena's STM!). The rhythm method was one of the earlier forms of NFP which predicts when a woman will be fertile based on her previous cycles. While it can work for women who are regular, life all too often will present circumstances that will cause a change in the length a woman's cycle, and so throwing off the rhythm necessary for the success of the method.

How effective is NFP for avoiding pregnancy?

Short answer: Very effective. :-)

For percentages and a well-informed understanding of how to interpret effectiveness and statistics, see our page on Effectiveness and Satisfaction.

How effective is NFP for achieving pregnancy?

Short answer: It's THE MOST effective type of birth control out there for achieving pregnancy!

NFP is the only type of birth control that not only helps to avoid pregnancy, but also to achieve it. A simple change-of-heart one month is all that it takes to start to try for your first or another "mini-me". You don't have to wait for your cycles to return to normal (often the case with hormonal contraceptives), you don't need to remove any device (as with the IUD), or you don't have to invest emotionally, mentally, physically and financially to reverse what was supposed to be irreversible (as with a vasectomy and tubal ligation). Not only this, you as a couple are equipped with the knowledge and understanding of the female's personal and unique cycle and are therefore able to identify when her most fertile days are. Remember that achieving a pregnancy is determined through your combined fertility as a couple. If pregnancy is not achieved within a few months of trying during the fertile phase, seeking-out medical assistance may be recommended. Thankfully, you will be ahead of the game since couples are often requested to start charting their cycle during the investigation into any possible fertility and reproductive issues.

Can I use NFP after having a baby and while breastfeeding?

Short answer: Yes! It's actually a healthy choice for mama and baby!

It's not typically the easiest season to navigate your fertility after having a baby. It's a time of watching and waiting for the return of the woman's cycle. If you are not prepared to conceive as soon as your cycle returns, then we highly recommend you take our After A Baby course. For mamas who plan on exclusively breastfeeding, there is the Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM) which can typically be used until the baby is 6 months old provided that all criteria are met (for some women, the practice of LAM can be extended even longer). Clinical studies have shown that LAM boasts a 0.5-1.5% perfect use pregnancy rate (for references, please contact us). Whether or not you are transitioning from LAM, the Sympto-Thermal Method (STM) can also be used and is effective postpartum. If you're planning on taking our After A Baby course, we recommend you do it before baby arrives (your hands will be full enough when baby is here!). If you have not already learned the STM with us, we recommend you take After A Baby in conjunction with STM Basics.

How can we increase our chances of conception?

Short answer: By observing and charting signs of optimal fertility.

Chances of conception are highest when intercourse takes place during the most fertile days of the cycle. To increase your chances, however, you may want to consider abstinence between days of intercourse during your fertile window to allow for sperm to replenish (having intercourse too frequently could decrease your chances of conception if sperm counts are lower than they could be.) Other factors that may affect your fertility are: stress, diet and even the amount of light in your room as you sleep at night. The season of "trying to conceive" is so special and exciting. It can also be tense and painful if you've been trying for months, even years, without success. If you are having trouble conceiving, it may not be that you are "infertile", it could just be that you are "sub-fertile" and missing the most optimal days for conception. Charting can sure help. It can also help to identify any possible reproductive and/ or overall health issues. Contact us if you have questions or need someone to talk to. We are here to help on this sensitive topic.

What are our options if we think we are infertile?

Short answer: NFP and charting can help.

Infertility can be a very painful reality for couples. If you are having trouble conceiving and think you may be infertile, we are here to support you. If you are not already practicing NFP, we would encourage you first to learn a method (be it with us or another credible NFP organization) and to begin charting. While we will not be able to give you an official diagnosis, your charts could very well help us to identify any possible issues that need further medical investigation and we can refer you to the help you need. Your charts could indicate sub-fertility, which means that you are not actually infertile, but that for one reason or another you have more difficulty conceiving. With NFP and specifically Serena's STM, the days of optimal fertility can be identified and with that information sub-fertile couples certainly have a better chance at getting pregnant. For more complicated reproductive issues, we do highly recommend the Creighton Model of NFP. Creighton's NaProTECHNOLOGY offers a natural alternative to the mainstream reproductive technologies out there. It is a relatively unknown yet effective option that is less costly for the couple not only financially, but also emotionally, mentally and physically. For example NaProTECHNOLOGY success stories check out Natural Fertility Matters, the website of Freda McMahon, a Creighton Practitioner based in the UK. To find a Creighton Practitioner near you, see For Creighton Practitioners in Vancouver, BC see FertilityCare Vancouver. If the possibility of infertility is an issue that you’re facing, we’re really sorry. We understand that it can be a painful process. If you would like to learn more about how Serena’s STM can help, contact us.

Are there methods of NFP other than Serena's STM?

Short answer: Yes!

Serena's Sympto-Thermal Method is only one of many modern and effective NFP methods available. While we admit we are totally biased towards Serena not only for its method, but also for its couple approach to fertility, we are also big fans of the other available NFP organizations and their respective methods. We support you in your choice of NFP. The best method and approach is that which works best for you as husband and wife and your particular circumstances. There are various organizations that offer NFP services, among them here are some of the most well-known and established:

Sympto-Thermal Method

(observation of cervical mucus, other symptoms as well as basal body temperature)

  1. Couple-to-Couple League or Live the Love
  2. Marquette Model of NFP (ClearBlue Easy Fertility Monitor to measure hormone levels)
  3. Sympto-Pro Fertility Educationoffered by Northwest Family Services. See also: Love Naturally NFP

Ovulation Method

(observation of cervical mucus)

  1. The Billings Ovulation Method taught by WOOMB. In Canada? See also: WOOMB Canada
  2. Creighton Model Fertilitycare System featuring NaProTECHNOLOGY. To find a Creighton Practitioner see For Creighton Practitioners in Vancouver, BC see FertilityCare Vancouver Reliable information on NFP is hard to come by.

Even we NFP service organizations can seem disjointed in our approaches to reach out you. Here at Serena we hope to build bridges as well as to establish some notoriety for NFP. For a more exhaustive list of NFP methods and fertility monitors , see this review by Sara Fox Peterson. While written from a Catholic perspective, her review is the one of the most thorough and helpful resources we've come across. All this said, in finding the method that suits you best, do your research! While we can attest to the sophistication and effectiveness of Serena's STM, we can't share that same endorsement for all other methods and monitors listed (we just don't know enough about them!).

Do I have to chart?

Short answer: With our method, yes! It's part and parcel with effectiveness, for avoiding or achieving pregnancy!

Charting is imperative for all modern and effective methods of NFP (Serena's STM is no exception!). The data you collect on your charts will not only help you to understand what is going on with your cycle each month, but it will also help us to interpret and problem solve if you seek out our support. Besides, having a track record of your reproductive health is pretty awesome and it will help you to make your family planning decisions accordingly.

The thought of mucus is disgusting to me. Actually, having to observe any symptoms stresses me out. What are my options for NFP?

Short answer: They aren't our first choice, but there are options.

We'll be honest, we are fans of methods which rely on the human intellect and capacities of husband and wife to gauge fertility. As such, we really only recommend NFP methods that require symptom observation and charting (like Serena's STM). That said, there are other natural methods of birth regulation that rely on devices to indicate which part of the cycle the woman is at (for example, by measuring her hormone or salt levels). We personally don't know enough about these fertility monitors and their degrees of effectiveness, but they are out there. For a more exhaustive list of NFP methods and fertility monitors, see this review by Sara Fox Peterson. While written from a Catholic perspective, her review is the one of the most thorough and helpful resources we've come across. Remember: if your goal is to avoid pregnancy, regardless of what natural method or fertility monitor you choose, you are only actually practicing NFP (and reaping all the benefits that come along with it) if you abstain during your fertile phase!

Does Serena have an app?

Short answer: No. *sob*

We're old school. Serena uses paper charts. We highly recommend that you chart by hand to start. Doing so will surely help you to familiarize yourself with not only the method but also your own patterns and cycles. Unfortunately, we currently do not have a Serena charting app available -- yet! We hope to have an awesome app in the works soon provided that we can secure the funding (want to contribute to the fund? :D). In the meantime, we've heard that Selene and Kindara are good options for Sympto-Thermal Method users.