“The Marquette Method of Natural Family Planning” is written by Kirsten White, BSN, RN of Mauve Fertility and reviewed/edited by Jamie Adams, MS RD LDN. Kirsten is a wife, mom, and registered nurse who specializes in maternal, infant, and pediatric health. She earned her nursing degree from Villanova University and completed her natural family planning instructor training through Marquette University. “
Many health professionals and organizations are beginning to recognize the importance of monthly menstruation and the information it provides into a woman’s overall health. The National Institutes of Health recently reported that the menstrual cycle can be thought of as a fifth vital sign, in addition to temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure. A woman’s monthly cycle provides irreplaceable insight into how her organs, body systems, cells, and hormones are working together.
Most hormonal contraceptives work by overriding or replacing natural female hormones with artificial ones, causing the suppression of ovulation and menstruation. Many women are now choosing to turn their backs on birth control in an effort to reclaim this “fifth vital sign” and gain an understanding of their fertility and their natural cycles. Because women are looking for alternatives to hormonal contraception, there has been a rise in natural options for family planning and pregnancy prevention.
Natural family planning has been around for a long time; however, as knowledge of female fertility and human reproduction grows, and technology increases, the natural family planning options and methods have become more abundant and effective. One of the most effective and technologically advanced methods of natural family planning is the Marquette Method. So what exactly is natural family planning? What are the different methods, and what specifically is the Marquette Method? We will take a look here.
What is Natural Family Planning?
Put simply, natural family planning is the knowledge and awareness of male and female fertility. This knowledge can be applied to a couple’s relational behaviors in order to either achieve or avoid pregnancy.
Men are always fertile, and sperm can live between three and five days in optimal environmental conditions, such as in a fertile woman’s reproductive tract. On the other hand, women are fertile for only a very brief time because once an egg is released, it lives only 12-24 hours. In all methods of natural family planning, the lifespan of both the sperm and the egg are factored into the calculation of identifying the fertile window, or the period of time during which a woman could become pregnant if a couple engages in intercourse.
Ovulation occurs roughly two weeks prior to a woman’s next menstrual period, but that is not very helpful in predicting when it will occur in advance. This makes it difficult to avoid sex accordingly if trying to avoid pregnancy. Luckily, the female body gives signs and symptoms of fertility, providing clues that ovulation is approaching or has already happened. This information helps to identify what part of her cycle a woman is in, and therefore whether she should have sex or not, depending on the couple’s intention for pregnancy.
Signs and Symptoms of Female Fertility
As ovulation approaches, a woman’s cervical mucus becomes wetter, slipperier, clearer, and more abundant. This type of mucus is the most hospitable to sperm, and allows sperm to live for their full lifespan. A woman can monitor her mucus to notice patterns and help predict when ovulation may be approaching. If she is planning to avoid pregnancy, any increase in fertile-quality cervical mucus signals that she should abstain from intercourse until she can be sure that ovulation has passed.
Basal body temperature
After ovulation has occurred, a woman’s basal body temperature significantly rises for the remainder of her cycle, until her next period. A woman can monitor her body temperature daily, and once she notices consistently higher temperatures, she can be fairly confident that ovulation has passed. This means she can engage in intercourse with very little risk of pregnancy.
Any number of the signs and symptoms of female fertility can be used to identify the beginning to the end of the fertile window. Many methods combine the monitoring of multiple symptoms to help pinpoint ovulation. The most commonly used sign is mucus, followed by temperature. However, both of these can be subjective and difficult or frustrating to interpret.
These changes in both cervical mucus and body temperature occur in response to hormone fluctuations throughout the menstrual cycle. Instead of or in addition to monitoring the symptoms of these female hormones, the actual hormone levels themselves can now be measured. Newer technologies are now available which allow women to monitor their hormone levels directly at home through their urine.
The Marquette Method
The Marquette Method of natural family planning primarily relies on hormone levels in a woman’s urine to pinpoint her fertile phase and ovulation. The method recommends the use of a digital monitor that reads multiple female hormone levels in her urine daily at home. There are also protocols for the use of non-digital urinary hormone test strips. When using the Marquette Method, a woman can also optionally monitor her mucus, but it is not required.
In addition to the daily monitor readings, the Marquette Method applies a simple algorithm of a woman’s cycle history to her upcoming cycles to help predict the fertile phase in advance of ovulation. This means that the longer the method is used, the easier and more accurate it becomes.
Marquette Method Instructors
Marquette Method instructors are required to be registered nurses or other advanced certified healthcare professionals. After completing a teacher training course and preceptorship, they become a Certified Maquette Method Instructor. They work individually with clients to meet their goals and needs, and identify the right protocol for each couple.
- Couples seeking to space pregnancies
- Couples struggling with fertility
- Breastfeeding women
- Perimenopausal women
- Women with irregular cycles
- Women interested in health monitoring
The Marquette Method can be tailored to almost anyone. Many women turn to Marquette for its black-and-white objectivity. The monitor and algorithm are straightforward and there is no interpretation required. The Marquette Method takes the guesswork out of the equation.
This is reassuring to women of all reproductive categories, but can be particularly helpful in times of ambiguous fertility signs. Women who are postpartum, breastfeeding, or approaching menopause often have especially confusing mucus and temperatures. This makes avoiding or achieving pregnancy difficult during these transitions. The Marquette Method has special protocols for all of these circumstances.
The Marquette Method for more than just natural family planning – bonus reasons to use fertility awareness methods
In addition to helping you achieve your family planning goals of achieving or avoiding pregnancy, charting your cycles with the Marquette Method can help to monitor that “fifth vital sign”—your menstrual health. The length of the pre- and post-ovulatory phases of your cycle provide tons of insight into your hormonal health and balance.
Most cycle tracking apps are only guessing at your ovulation day based on the average length of your entire cycle. The Marquette hormone monitoring system is much more accurate. With perfect use, the Marquette Method is over 98% effective at avoiding pregnancy. Knowing your exact ovulation date can also help to time intercourse right to achieve pregnancy!
Regardless of your goals and your current reproductive status, there is likely a Marquette Method protocol for you. Monitoring your cycle health can also help to identify any health or hormonal issues that you may need to work on. In combining a Marquette Method instructor with a registered dietitian, we have provided everything you will need to monitor and regulate your menstrual cycles through knowledge, lifestyle, and nutrition.
Are you ready to ditch the hormonal birth control, reclaim your fifth vital sign, and understand your natural flow?
Introducing: Balanced Flow – more than just your typical Fertility Awareness Method
Whether you are looking to avoid or achieve pregnancy – learn how to identify your fertile window with accuracy and confidence by monitoring your hormone levels directly at home.
Then, get your hormones in check so you can have a balanced flow and ultimately optimize your fertility (aka your fifth vital sign!) to live a more balanced life.
Taught by a Registered Nurse and Marquette Method Instructor, and Registered Dietitian, in this course you will:
- Learn how to track key indicators of your fertility and use your reports to be able to pinpoint the day of ovulation following the Marquette Method.
- Create a balanced lifestyle through nutrition, movement, and more to help balance your hormones and optimize fertility.
- Feel confident in using a fertility awareness method in order to avoid or achieve pregnancy so you can have a balanced family.
Be the first to know when Balanced Flow opens its virtual doors by joining the waitlist today!