Even though too many associate natural fertility methods of family planning to be akin to the old “rhythm method,” today’s methods are 95 to 99 percent effective in achieving and/or preventing pregnancy and women are looking for alternatives to risky pills and IUDs – so why aren’t they getting the information they need?
Writing for Verily Magazine, Lindsay Schlegel busts the myths about today’s fertility awareness-based methods (FABMs) which are not only inexpensive, green, and as effective as hormonal contraceptives with proper use, they also provide valuable clues to underlying health issues that are masked by hormonal birth control.
“Women’s natural fertility cycles indicate so much about women’s health,” Schlegel writes. “In addition to helping users achieve or avoid pregnancy, using an FABM can provide clues to identify and treat a number of other underlying health issues . . .”
This explains why up to 60 percent of surveyed women reported an interest in learning more from their doctors about non-hormonal, non-barrier, and nonsurgical methods of birth control. However, only six percent of medical professionals are aware of the high success rates of natural methods.
One of the reasons for this appalling lack of information is the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) which cites a failure rate of 24 pregnancies per 100 women for those using FABMs to avoid pregnancy.
But this statistic is misleading!
According to Dr. Marguerite Duane, a board certified family physician and Adjunct Associate Professor at Georgetown University, and co-founder and Executive Team Leader of FACTS (Fertility Appreciation Collaborative to Teach the Science) there are several reasons why these numbers are not accurate.
“The data comes from a retrospective survey based on patient recall, a flawed methodology, plus 86% of the respondents reported using variations of the calendar rhythm method, [which is not a modern FABM] which explains why the failure rate they report is so high,” Dr. Duane told Verily.
The calendar rhythm method relied on keeping track of the menstrual cycle for six months before estimating a fertile period.
“Modern FABMs observe daily biomarkers like basal body temperature, the absence or presence and quality of cervical mucus, and hormone levels to determine the length of a woman’s monthly cycle, and the length of each phase,” Schlegel reports.
And these new methods are backed by plentiful, evidence-based research. They include the Billings Ovulation Method, Creighton, Model, Sympto-Thermal, Sympto-Hormonal, and Standard Days Methods.
Studies have found that FABM effectiveness rates range from 95.2% to 99.6%.
“Even with typical use, the effectiveness rates of FABMs are comparable to most commonly used forms of birth control, with unintended pregnancy ranging from 2-14%,” Dr. Duane said.
Unfortunately, women aren’t getting this information because doctors are relying on misleading statistics. This results in only a small number of women having access to this information in their doctor’s office.
The more women learn about the harmful side effects of the pill and other forms of artificial birth control, the more interested they are in other options.
“FABMs are the only methods that don’t interfere with the natural cycle, the woman’s body or the act of intercourse. . . . Women who learn FABMs have a better understanding of their body and their fertility. Many more women would use FABMs if it wasn’t for this lack of information,” Dr. Duane said.
This is why a new petition campaign is underway asking the CDC to revise its information.
“Family physicians need accurate data to share with patients who are making family planning decisions,” Dr. Duane says, and believes that raising at least 100,000 signatures may encourage the CDC to update its information.
Click here to access the petition.
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Anyone who is concerned about women’s reproductive health should check out this downloadable pamphlet describing the harm done to women by hormonal birth control.