Dear Fr. Matthew,
We were married in the 1980s. I think NFP was discussed during our marriage preparation classes, but I remember very little of that discussion. At that time, everyone used birth control and I dismissed the idea of NFP as a non-realistic option. I used the birth control pill for the first 15 years of our marriage. As I began to grow in my faith, I came to understand the Church's teaching on birth control and struggled to share with my husband reasons why I could no longer use it. Together, we took instruction on NFP, yet we have never come to totally trust its effectiveness. How do you counsel couples who want to move from birth control to NFP yet do not feel called to have more children because of age (mid-40s)?
T, your questions were forwarded to me to answer. I am a Board-certified OB/GYN specializing in NFP and can assure you of two things: modern NFP methods are superior to current hormonal contraceptive methods, and your age dramatically decreases the chance of failure regardless. The failure rate of NFP is less than 3%. The method I personally teach, The Billings Ovulation Method, has a failure rate of 0.5% with usage data from 120 countries around the world, most impressively, China. Please take a course from a certified instructor (BOM has only 4 simple rules) and make your marriage truly open to God's plan for marriage. You only have potentially 96 hours of fertility per month and God gives us the technology to recognize those few hours if, after considering your resources and health, you and your husband choose not to use them.
Mary W. Martin, M.D., FACOG