Fertility Awareness Based Methods are an effective form of family planning, helping couples to both achieve and avoid pregnancy. Modern methods based on scientific research of a woman’s cycle allow couples to determine days of fertility and infertility and plan intercourse based on rules taught by each method. Several different types of methods are available, each with features that can accommodate the lifestyle and unique needs of different couples. All methods promoted by FACTS are based on scientific evidence of effectiveness.

Benefits

  • FABMs are effective!

    FABMs are as effective and, in some cases, more effective than other user-directed methods of artificial birth control, to help couples post-pone or prevent pregnancy.1  The Creighton model used in conjunction with NaPro Technology is as effective as artificial reproductive technologies to help couples achieve pregnancy.2, 3

  • FABMs are Safe!

    Natural methods have no medical side effects unlike hormonal contraceptives, which can increase a woman’s risk for blood clots, breast and cervical cancer.4, 5, 6

  • FABMs are cost-effective!

    Any costs for the various methods are minimal. Most costs for training and materials are upfront, with only small additional costs in the future such as purchasing charts.

  • FABMs teach women of all ages that their fertility is healthy and natural!

    Fertility is not a disease, so why treat it as such? FABMs respect the natural times of fertility and infertility. They can be used at every stage of a woman’s life for family planning or simply to monitor reproductive health.

  • FABMs empower couples!

    FABMs empower a couple with knowledge of their fertility. They understand and appreciate it instead of blocking or attempting to eliminate it. As a couple, they share the responsibility of trying to achieve or avoid pregnancy—together, without the burden all falling to one person.  FABMs often lead to improved communication, as couples discuss their family planning goals on a regular basis.7

Challenges

  • FABMs require behavior modification!

    Like dietary changes for a healthier lifestyle, effective Natural Family Planning requires accurate information through sound teaching as well as discipline in applying what’s learned.

  • FABMs require a period of abstinence during a woman’s fertile window when seeking to postpone pregnancy.

    While abstinence may present a challenge and the word itself has a negative connotation, it is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it can be very good for a couple. It encourages the development of self-control and allows couples to focus on other aspects of their relationship during the fertile window. Couples planning to post-pone or avoid pregnancy simply choose to have sexual intercourse on days outside of their fertile window.

  • FABMs can be more challenging when the woman’s cycle is very irregular!

    Irregular cycles can make FABMs more challenging to use, but FABMs allow patients to recognize abnormalities, so they may seek treatment sooner. Also, while infections can affect cervical mucus, women may be able to discern a change from their normal cervical fluid earlier than those not trained in FABMs, since they know their range of normal. This may help them avoid unnecessary testing or delays in care.

  • FABMs do not prevent STIs!

    However, studies show that hormonal contraceptives do not effectively prevent STIs over a lifetime of use.8 In fact, women who use Depo-Provera appear to be at increased risk of Chlamydia compared to those not using hormonal contraception.8 Also, women using combined oral contraceptive pills or Depo-Provera have a higher risk of HIV, even after controlling for condom use.9

  • It takes two to achieve or avoid pregnancy

    Effective NFP requires participation and support from one’s partner. Of course, discipline, good communication, and full commitment of both partners are all desirable attributes one would seek in a healthy, mature relationship.

REFERENCES
  1. Manhart M. D., Duane M., Lind A., Sinai I., Golden-Tevald J. 2013. Fertility awareness-based methods of family planning: a review of effectiveness for avoiding pregnancy using SORT. Osteopathic Family Physician 5 (1): 2-8.
  2. Stanford J. B., Parnell T. A., Boyle P. C. 2008. Outcomes from treatment of infertility with natural procreative technology in an Irish general practice. Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine 21 (5): 375-384.
  3. Tham E., Schliep K., Stanford J. 2012. Natural procreative technology for infertility and recurrent miscarriage: outcomes in a Canadian family practice. Canadian Family Physician 58:e267-274.
  4. Casey PM, Cerhan JR, Pruthi S. Oral contraceptive use and the risk of breast cancer. Mayo Clin Proc. 2008;83(1):86-91.
  5. Kahlenborn C, Modugno F, Potter DM, Severs WB. Oral contraceptive use as a risk factor for premenopausal breast cancer: a meta-analysis. Mayo Clin Proc. 2006;81(10):1290-1302.
  6. Poulter NR. Risk of fatal pulmonary embolism with oral contraceptives. Lancet. 2000; 355(9221):2088.
  7. VandeVusse L., Hanson L., Fehring R. J., Newman A., Fox J. 2003. Couples’ views of the effects of natural family planning on marital dynamics. Journal of Nursing Scholarship 35 (2): 171-176.
  8. Morrison, Charles S., et al. 2004.  Hormonal Contraceptive Use, Cervical Ectopy, and the Acquisition of Cervical Infections. Sexually Transmitted Diseases 31 (9): 561-567.
  9. Heffron R., et al. 2011. Use of hormonal contraceptives and risk of HIV-1 transmission: a prospective cohort study. Lancet Infectious Diseases DOI: 10.1016/S1473-3099(11)70247-X.