Natural Family Planning and Fertility Awareness – not the old “Rhythm method”!

For these and other terms, see the Alphabet of bioZhena at /2007/11/28/the-alphabet-of-biozhena/

Natural family planning (NFP):

This refers to several different methods for spacing, postponing, avoiding or enhancing the possibilities of conception, without any chemical or physiological alterations of the reproductive system (female or male). NFP, therefore, is not merely a birth prevention method but is also utilized to increase the chances of becoming pregnant.

Natural family planning research has shown that among the advantages of the NFP practice is that the required discipline enhances the sexual relationship and dialogue, and that there is a reduction of “dominant attitude” in both men and women practising NFP. Contemporary methods are sometimes referred to as ‘fertility awareness’ (FA) since they are ultimately based on awareness of symptoms of fertility that are readily recognizable or measurable by any woman. Other people distinguish between NFP and FA in terms of the fertile phase: NFP users abstain whereas FA users employ a barrier method of contraception during the fertile phase. In any case, NFP and FA are distinct from the older ‘calendar’ methods such as Ogino-Knaus (the so-called ‘rhythm’ method).

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) refers to “family planning by periodic abstinence” and explains that this is [QUOTE] another name for the method of birth control that used to be called ‘rhythm method’ or ‘safe period’. More recently it has also been called ‘natural family planning’ or ‘fertility awareness’. It isn’t a single method but a variety of methods. Each is designed to help a couple find out which days during a woman’s menstrual cycle she is likely to be fertile or able to become pregnant [END OF QUOTE]. Ref.: http://www.medem.com/search/article_display.cfm?path=\\TANQUERAY\M_ContentItem&mstr=/M_ContentItem/ZZZ48OI527C.html&soc=ACOG&srch_typ=NAV_SERCH .

While the proponents of NFP warn that, without further expenditures on education, NFP will remain a fringe method in the U.S., the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advises the public that [QUOTE] periodic abstinence is quite an effective means to prevent an unwanted pregnancy [END OF QUOTE].

A more detailed and informed article is in American Family Physician, Nov 1, 1995 by John H. Geerling [ http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m3225/is_n6_v52/ai_17558662 ] who writes that “studies have reported that women who practice methods of natural family planning do so for health reasons, and because the methods are natural and do not require the use of chemicals”. He also writes that: “Effective use of natural family planning requires teaching beyond that which physicians can provide during a typical office visit. Therefore, physicians who wish to provide natural family planning as an option to their patients need to establish working relationships with persons who are qualified to instruct patients in the various methods of natural family planning.”

The OvulonaTM from bioZhena is designed to make NFP/FAM easily accessible to anyone. Scientific Family PlanningTM and/or Scientific Fertility AwarenessTM are the putative names for our approach, SFPTM and SFATM.

FAM (fertility awareness method):

A method of determining a woman’s fertility status through self-assessment of certain fertility signs: waking temperature (also called the basal body temperature or BBT), cervical fluid, and cervical position. While NFP users abstain, FAM users apply one of the barrier methods of contraception for vaginal intercourse during the “unsafe days” of a woman’s fertile phase.

“Rhythm” method:

Also called the calendar method, it has been discredited because of two factors: its unwarranted assumption of regularity of menstrual cycles, and the long period of abstinence demanded by it. The method’s one-time well-known status has caused a skeptical bias in America to all NFP or FAM methods, although they are very different.

The calendar or “rhythm” method is useless (and silly), unlike NFP or FAM. The reader may be aware of another nickname for the “rhythm method”… If so, you also understand that the above-referenced ACOG is confused when they talk of “another name for the method of birth control that used to be called ‘rhythm method'”. This sort of confusion is sadly not unique, including in the medical circles, and we reference other instances in some other entries in The Alphabet ( /2007/11/28/the-alphabet-of-biozhena/ ).

For more about how the “rhythm method” came about and how its failure brought about the chemical contraception, see the 2012 blog post Why too many young and not so young ladies could NOT receive flowers on Mothers’ Day: Why so many trying-to-conceive, why so much infertility. (Say thank you to the social and medical advances of the twentieth century – primarily those of chemical birth control, the Pill.)

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2 Responses to “Natural Family Planning and Fertility Awareness – not the old “Rhythm method”!”

  1. Variability of menstrual cycles and of ovulation timing « bioZhena’s Weblog Says:

    […] because they experienced difficulties in achieving pregnancy, or because they wanted to learn NFP [Natural Family Planning] as a means of birth control. Or, maybe, they wanted to use NFP for both, at different phases of […]

  2. What is the mechanism of stress and how does it affect reproduction. An update. « bioZhena's Weblog Says:

    […] By emphasizing the critical timing of stress, this paper points by implication at the importance of routine Ovulona monitoring of Folliculogenesis In Vivo™, particularly  for assisting women who have difficulty to conceive but also for those practicing natural birth control. […]

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