For Filipino women, Natural Family Planning (NFP) is deemed important as 18 percent still demand for modern NFP methods, alongside other Family Planning (FP) methods, thus reiterating the country’s unmet need for FP.

The month of May every year is marked as Natural Family Planning Month with this year’s theme “Pamilyang Planado, Panalo!” encouraging couples to plan their families. The 2017 National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) showed that poor and less educated women continue to have more children than they planned.

The highlight of the NFP month celebration this year will be the launch of the Natural Family Planning Handbook and Manual, published by the Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM). In addition, a signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between POPCOM and the Responsible Parenthood and All-Natural Family Planning (RP-ANFP) Network will take place on May 31, 2019 in Quezon City. The NFP Manual and Handbook will provide information about available methods for FP, with each method having an effectivity of about 95 to 99 percent. This partnership aims to widen the reach of users in terms of the NFP program implementation.

About 0.3 percent of Filipino women intended to use NFP, with only Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM) and Sympto-Thermal method, posting 0.1 percent each, while the rest of the NFP methods had less than 0.1.

In Region I, 43.9 percent of currently married women ages 15-49 use the modern method of which 0.2 percent is composed of LAM users. This data only shows that LAM is the most availed NFP method in Region I.

Earlier this year, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the intensified implementation of the National Program on Population and Family Planning (NPPFP) to expand the reach of the program, to include those in the workplace and marginalized sectors. This mandate also includes the promotion of all types of FP methods including modern NFP.

Undersecretary Juan Antonio A. Perez III, MD, Executive Director of POPCOM said that, “POPCOM, DOH, the LGUs, and other key institutional partners will continue to expand the choices of Filipino women and couples to plan their families and their lives. The modern NFP methods are safe options that they can use for this purpose. These methods also promote shared responsibility among couples which can pave a way for them to strengthen their relationship.”

One of the major reasons for unplanned pregnancies among poor women and couples is their lack of access to family planning information and services. Given this, the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law (RA 10354) promotes universal access to the widest range of FP methods including natural and artificial methods.

To increase the use of modern NFP, the Department of Health (DOH), POPCOM, and Local Government Units (LGUs) are promoting modern Natural Family Planning (NFP), also called Fertility Awareness-Based Methods, which are scientifically proven to be effective using the changing body signals indicating their period of fertility. The NFP methods include Standard Days Method (SDM), Basal Body Temperature (BBT), Cervical Mucus Method (CMM), Sympto-Thermal Method (STM), and Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM). These methods do not require drugs or devices and can be used by Filipino couples to achieve their desired timing, spacing, and number of children. Modern NFP does not include traditional and non-scientific methods such as withdrawal, calendar, and rhythm.

“We enjoin all government agencies, local government units, civil society organizations, media outfits, communities, and individuals to celebrate Natural Family Planning month and support the campaign for a quality Population and Family Planning program in the Philippines. Dahil ang pamilyang planado, panalo!” Usec. Perez concluded. #

Figures computed by POPCOM from the 2013 National Demographic and Health Survey