Natural family planning — distinct from artificial family planning via contraceptives, abortion, sterilization, and abortifacients — does not work in a culture that is presently anti-life (there were 58 million abortions in the last year alone). Natural Family Planning is not practical nor efficient compared to artificial means of preventing pregnancy since it requires tough perseverance. Likewise, it takes personal discipline to monitor a woman’s fertility, a requirement of both husband and wife. And like artificial means, it may “fail” and permit a child to be conceived. Why go through all the trouble of self-disciplining one’s sexual desires if you may still have a child you did not want? Artificial contraception looks easy by comparison, considering that modern medicine does not want to reveal too loudly the many potential down-sides to women, like cancer, strokes, and the like.
It has been alleged by many studies that approximately 1-2% of all married couples in the USA practice various natural methods of preventing conception. This is compared to the majority of couples, wherein the woman takes a daily pill or becomes sterilized – oftentimes to please her husband. Men adopting mechanical barriers to please their wives are in the minority. Using something artificial to make certain that women do not become impregnated with an embryo seems paradoxical since men, barring a dysfunction of their sperm or glands, are always fertile until death, whereas women are fertile a few days each month until middle age and their eggs weaken after the age of 35. Yet the vast majority of women bear the brunt of using artificial means to prevent pregnancies while men are in the minority of doing something unnatural to themselves. There are a host of reasons for this. Feminists were wrong to think contraceptives would bring them a newfound freedom.
If a woman’s fertility and children are considered a disease or a health issue because it interferes with future marriages, a job, or the getting a job, then artificial “contraconception” is the cure in today’s culture. This is now ingrained in the customs and felt values of today’s modern world throughout the Western globe, not just in the USA. In such an atmosphere, how can the teaching on chastity seem feasible to a young couple wishing to get married? The Catechism gives the following advice, which in light of the signs of the times is absolutely true and at the same time rather naive given the dearth of praxis:
1632 So that the “I do” of the spouses may be a free and responsible act and so that the marriage covenant may have solid and lasting human and Christian foundations, preparation for marriage is of prime importance.
1. The example and teaching given by parents and families remain the special form of this preparation. 2. The role of pastors and of the Christian community as the “family of God” is indispensable for the transmission of the human and Christian values of marriage and family, and much more so in our era when many young people experience broken homes which no longer sufficiently assure this initiation: 3. It is imperative to give suitable and timely instruction to young people, above all in the heart of their own families, about the dignity of married love, its role and its exercise, so that, having learned the value of chastity, they will be able at a suitable age to engage in honorable courtship and enter upon a marriage of their own. 
What parents actually teach faith and morals these days? Homeschoolers definitely and perhaps families of “greens.” Many children do not even know their prayers, let alone what chastity is and how one goes about acquiring the virtue. I have heard of stories of mothers bringing their adolescent girls to see the doctor because of the natural discharges that take place each month prior to menses. Since these mothers are taking the pill and so do not experience this natural phenomenon, they falsely assume their daughters are having sex outside of marriage.
Do priests preach on premarital, marital, and post-marital chastity? According to many polls and anecdotal knowledge, this is the exception. Do parishes and dioceses promote the virtues or simply the commandments? With all the hookups and “free unions” or trial marriages, breakups, and high divorce rates, can children and teens really be taught the values associated with chastity, except through God’s gift of special and extraordinary graces to some individuals?
From the point of view of the secular culture, the public schools should emphasize sex education, not chastity-driven enlightenment, and machines dispensing condoms to teenagers in high schools should be the norm. The next number of the Catechism, while eminently true, has not be fulfilled in decades:
2344 Chastity represents an eminently personal task; it also involves a cultural effort, for there is “an interdependence between personal betterment and the improvement of society.” Chastity presupposes respect for the rights of the person, in particular the right to receive information and an education that respect the moral and spiritual dimensions of human life.
What is involved in NFP is discipline, self-mastery, and communication, all of which should be learned in the teenage years and later. First, girls should learn about the purpose of their periods and the need to be modest in their clothes and demeanor, and boys should learn about their fertility. Then, when the time comes for marriage, both husband and wife will be able to plan their families and do the work of charting periods of infertility in a woman’s cycle. Second, during periods of adolescence and before marriage, if chastity or freedom from sexual urges is mastered, it will facilitate those times in a marriage when abstinence is essential during the fertile period of the wife. These occur when it is not reasonable to have a child for a particular period of time based upon prudent rational discernment and prayer. Third, during periods of abstinence, other ways of manifesting affection and affirmation need to be cultivated by words and deeds. Love is strengthened by surprise, not simply authentic conjugal intercourse.
Now, given today’s world where most doctors do not even know about NFP and most parents practice artificial family planning, and teens and “twenty-somethings” are hooking up, watching porn, living together in “trial marriages” with contraceptives as their sacrament of life, how will it be possible for anyone, unless God gives special graces, to renounce such self-centered lifestyles and embrace discipline, self-mastery, and communication?
In this morass of no norms license, NFP will not and cannot work because there is no will or virtue to take up this lifestyle, which demands sacrifice. If the home life has not been attuned to a sharing, sparing, and a frugal lifestyle, then seeking the perfection of virtue and the common good is impossible for NFP to even begin, let alone practice. Even though where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more, God does not take away man’s ability to resist Him.