Learn Fertility Awareness Before Marriage



You may be thinking, as an unmarried adult, how is Fertility Awareness (Natural Family Planning) relevant to me? In her article titled, “Fertility Awareness and Women Religious,” Sister Renée Mirkes, OSF, PhD, mentions a few motivations to learn fertility awareness, which can be applied to ALL people. To sum, they are: better understanding of the nuptial meaning of the body, health, and stewardship. I will briefly identify those here:

1. Nuptial Meaning of the Body. Our mission as Catholics is to know, love, and serve God. One part of knowing God is knowing how and why He created us. Studying fertility awareness demonstrates God’s awesome design in allowing us to be co-creators with Him. This knowledge is meant to inspire us to reflect on Trinitarian love. Sister Renée writes, “I experience the practice of tracking my fertility, now transformed by grace, as an ever renewing reminder that, in the essential nature of my sexuality, God has created me to be a gift.” Don’t wait until you’re holding a newborn to be inspired by the genius of women. Sister Renée explains that fertility awareness reminds her of this gift on a daily basis as she charts her observations. Specifically for those called to celibacy through religious vocations, she explains the nuptial meaning of the body through charting:

What she seeks is a marriage and a family directly with God. Her practice of fertility awareness advises her that she is called to love on the human plane as a spiritual mother, as an icon of God’s life-giving love. She is called to imitate the diagram of Christ’s love on the cross, to imitate a love for others that is unto death.

2. Health. Charting teaches women to become self-aware of subtle signs that could point to serious health complications. Women’s bodies are designed to be fertile when they’re healthy. When a woman identifies sub-optimal fertility through charting, she’s observing the initial signs that there’s something wrong. Some of the health conditions that will show symptoms through fertility awareness are PMS, thyroid disease, some types of cancer, PCOS, and endometriosis. In addition, fertility awareness will identify those who are at risk for miscarriage and premature birth. Women who chart their fertility are able to bring their concerns to their doctors sooner than women who don’t chart, and therefore receive treatment sooner. Too often I hear of women ignoring health concerns until they are pregnant with their first child. By then it is too late for prevention, and they risk the life of their unborn child through early miscarriage or premature birth. Besides monitoring a woman’s health, fertility awareness helps new parents more accurately identify their baby’s due date. This is important in terms of receiving timely prenatal care and reducing the need for labor induction.

3. Stewardship. Because this knowledge is available, and has been proven trustworthy from over 40 years of research, we have the responsibility to learn it well to become good stewards of our bodies. This can happen by perfecting the gift of self through this awareness, or by taking responsibility for our bodies through treating illnesses immediately and ethically. Learning to chart now before marriage also helps you clarify your future family goals. If you are suffering a condition that threatens your fertility, it is important to discuss that with your fiancé before marriage as well as throughout it. In this way you open up discussion early for alternative approaches to the procreative end of marriage beyond parenting biological children: adoption, foster care, community service, or missionary work.

More dioceses are presenting NFP instruction through pre-Cana. Some couples may find that they never have a need to space children more than what breast-feeding permits, nor will they ever find themselves jobless, seriously ill, caring for high needs children, or any other reason that would require avoiding pregnancy temporarily or permanently. However, the problem is that we can’t predict the future. By the time a crisis arises in your life, you need to start charting 3-6 months ago to have a handle on making accurate observations and informed decisions.

Consider learning more about fertility awareness as a way to grow closer to God and to those whom you serve through Him. Sister Renée has written extensively on all sorts of moral quandaries regarding reproductive technology and Catholic teaching. She is available by phone and email, so I encourage you to contact her for any ethical questions.



  1. Carrie-529869 February 14, 2014 Reply

    Elizabeth, there is church teaching on that: ready “Letter to Women” by JPII.

    Also, just another minor comment about this: The original translation of TOB used the word “Nuptial meaning of the body”. The 2nd edition changed that to “Spousal meaning”. The slight difference is that nuptial is referring to the wedding, and spousal is referring to the marriage.

  2. Joy Kubik February 14, 2014 Reply

    Elizabeth, the cross you carry is very similar to those women who are married, but for good reason must post-pone pregnancy indefinitely, or are infertile sooner than menopause naturally makes them, or have entered the religious life. God has not limited the gift of life only in the biological sense of pregnancy. He has expanded it to works of service through volunteering, foster care, and adoption. Remember that every person is a child of God, whether they are a newborn, 40, or 89 years old. God has allowed this opportunity in your life to serve His children in a unique and expansive way. Pray about how you can be a spiritual parent, whether it’s to teens in your parish, the elderly, or volunteering at a school. Everyone is somebody’s baby. As a mother, I’d hate to think my children would be neglected later in life by other adults if I’m no longer able to care for them, just because they’re no longer infants. In giving of yourself through service, you very much reflect a mother’s love and resemble the Blessed Mother. Be grateful for those opportunities, and may you find joy and peace in serving an unlimited amount of God’s “children.”

  3. Elizabeth-607242 February 6, 2014 Reply

    What about women in their late forties who are still functioning reproductively but cannot find a husband and yearn for a baby, that yearning increases with age for some of us. Is the Church’s only advice to carry our broken hearts as a cross?

  4. Elizabeth-607242 February 6, 2014 Reply

    what about single women who still ovulate in their late forties yearn for a baby but can’t find a husband and that yearning increases with age – no church teaching on that one.

  5. Andrew-1040810 February 6, 2014 Reply

    The more women learn about their bodies, the more they understand they were God’s final creation–using a rib from poor Adam, and undoubtedly his finest. That knowledge alone should empower them to return to the top of the pedestal of modesty they abandoned over a century ago.

  6. BethAnne-168224 February 6, 2014 Reply

    Thank you!! I’m in several NFP groups on FB and ppl are all why are you charting if you are single/not having sex? That seems dumb. I wrote about it last summer. It’s so important! I’m able to track my moods and different symptoms by charting. Plus you’re not supposed to have sex when learning so now is a great time to learn!

  7. Jennifer-728047 February 5, 2014 Reply

    I applaud and LOVE this post. Why? I’m a Creighton Model FertiltyCare Nurse Practitioner and I can’t tell you how valuable, beautiful, chastity affirming (pre-maritally) and marriage enhancing it is within the sacred institution of Marriage. I have seen amazing transformations on all levels on the person — emotionally, physically, spiritually, relationally. Incredible! As a woman who is charting as a single person, it affirms my womanhood and also allows me to see the “effects” of “life” on my cycles and hormones. It’s where PERFECT family planning and REAL women’s health intersect. The founder, Dr Hilgers, is a HARD CORE, beautiful Catholic and so every part of the system is respectful of the Catholic moral teachings. And the fruit that comes from it, is apparent of the morality regarded. I invite and urge every single woman to attend an Introductory Session and start charting! Not only will it do the aforementioned good, but it will also give you the ability to assess your risk of reproductive cancers (all cancer patients –ALL — have two things in common: high body acid level AND imbalanced hormones). With the Creighton model, we can intercept some of the abnormalities and correct them! Getting her healthier, and also preparing her for family if that is in God’s plan. If not? We’re still benefitting from the heath standpoint! Ladies, go to http://www.fertilitycare.org and find your state! Locate a “practitioner/teacher” and get going! You won’t regret it. Most think “oh I’m normal, my period is around the same time every month.” Doesn’t, unfortunately, mean much……most are imbalanced I’m learning from the patients I have. The food, the diet, the water, the lack of water, the stress, the obesity, the anorexia, the bulimia, the GMOs, the chemtrails, the vaccines…..we’re toxic. So start learning now:) I’ll be happy to help and answer questions: jchirdo.fertilitycare@gmail.com

  8. Marge-938695 February 5, 2014 Reply

    IMHO, this kind of thing should be taught in high schools. If you understand your body you necessarily respect it and see the dangers of messing with Nature’s system.

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