The Catholic Church

Contraception and Natural Family Planning

Marriage is an intimate, lifelong partnership in which husbands and wives give and receive love unselfishly. The sexual relationship expresses their married love and shows what it means to become "one body" (Genesis 2:24) and "one flesh" (Mark 10:8, Matthew 19:6). The sexual union is meant to express the full meaning of a couple's love, its power to bind them together and its openness to new life.

The Church believes that God has established an inseparable bond between the oneness and procreative aspects of marriage. The couple has promised to give themselves to each other, and this mutual self-giving includes the gift of their fertility. This means that each sexual act in a marriage needs to be open to the possibility of conceiving a child. "Thus, artificial contraception is contrary to God's will for marriage because it separates the act of conception from sexual union" (United States Catholic Catechism for Adults, p. 409).

A couple need not desire to conceive a child in every act of intercourse. But they should never suppress the life-giving power that is part of what they pledged in their marriage vows.

Serious circumstances financial, physical, psychological, or those involving responsibilities to other family members may affect the number and spacing of children. The Church understands this.

Helping couples to deepen conjugal love and achieve responsible parenthood is part of the Church’s total pastoral ministry to Catholic spouses. Fulfillment of this ministry includes both education and pastoral care. This means offering practical help to those who wish to live out their parenthood in a truly responsible way.

When there is a sufficient reason to avoid or postpone pregnancy (the Church does warn against selfishness in family planning.) Natural Family Planning is a way of following God’s plan, it consists of ways to achieve or to avoid pregnancy using the physical means that God has built into human nature. These methods are based on observation of the naturally occurring signs and symptoms of the fertile and infertile phases of a woman's menstrual cycle. Couples using NFP to avoid pregnancy abstain from intercourse and genital contact during the fertile phase of the woman's cycle. No drugs, devices, or surgical procedures are used to avoid pregnancy.

The best way to learn NFP is from a qualified instructor-one who is certified from an NFP teacher training program. Our Diocesan ( Respect Life Office) NFP  Consultant can help you to find an NFP class in your area. ( (

We are enormously grateful to the Church for her constant teaching that sexuality must be open to the transmission of life.

"Used with permission from the NFP Program, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved."

Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio of Pope John Paul II