I was inspired to a soapbox by my sister. If she can use the words "penis" and "vagina" intelligently in her blog than I can pontificate about natural family planning.
It's not that hard people...I mean really. So you can't have sex for the duration of approximately a week. If you really want to be safe, 10 days. This way, not only do you and your spouse get to know your body rhythms intimately (and if this makes you uncomfortable, you might reconsider how comfortable you are with your spouse), but your body feels ten times better than it does with all the added hormones of birth-control.
Most studies indicated that for every year a woman is on birth control her uterus ages 5 years. A woman's fertility peaks in her late twenties and drops significantly after 35. That isn't a huge window to begin with and I decided two years ago that I didn't want to shrink it any further.
Moreover, I discovered myself when I chose to go off of birth control. Note: I was not sexually active until I was married, so the birth control was a method of controlling my menstration and cramping. What I found was that the hormones tempered everything I experienced. I had no highs, no lows, and now really sense of change. The world became crystal clear to me when I chose to go off of birth control. Sure, I gained some weight, became moodier, and had to find alternative methods for controlling my pain, but I am a woman and that is what women do. I am now using a combination of NFP, pain medication, and natural remedies to handle my cycle and my pain. There are some days that are better than others, but in the end I am so much better for the decision.
Yes, as my mother has indicated in several conversations we have had on the subject, it is not easy for a husband and wife to abstain from sex during the time when the woman's body most wants it. Yes, it means that each person has to give up a little bit of what they "want" for the sake of creating and maintaining the most perfect union.
In my mind, it is like swearing. Succeeding at communicating your point without swear words is much harder, but more meaningful than using them. Suceeding at communicating love and awe with your partner without sex is harder, but just as meaningful and self-sacrificing. Maybe that is the point. The Catholic Church teaches against birth control because it prevents the couple from giving completely of themselves in sexual intimacy. Birth control says, "I am willing to give you everything but my fertility." Abstainance, used correctly, gives completely of one's self, even to the point of sacrificing the one-flesh union, in order to love the other as completely as possible without creating life.
NFP takes work and dedication. I wake up at 6:30 no matter what day it is and take my temperature. I record it and make sure that my husband knows what it means. We both make ourselves aware of the "no fly" zone. Sure, I do all that. It takes about as much time as remembering to take "the pill", with as much or less worrying. Interesting, isn't it?