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Do you feel well prepared to educate women and men about fertility awareness based methods (FABMs) so they may make informed choices?
Do you know the latest science about these healthy, hormone free options for family planning and health monitoring?
Have you ever wondered how you could integrate FABMs into your practice?

Strengthen Your Understanding of Fertility Awareness

Join us for the FACTS annual meeting!

November 9, 2018 | 8:00 am to 12:30 pm | Rye Brook, NY

Register today!
(But hurry, registration closes Nov.1!)

For more information and to register visit fmec.net
The FACTS Meeting is held as a pre-conference to the FMEC 2018 Annual Meeting

An FABM for Every Season of Life

October 17, 2018

Editor’s Note: This interview with a user of fertility awareness based methods (FABMs) was conducted and summarized by a fourth-year medical student as part of a 2-week elective with FACTS Executive Director, Dr. Marguerite Duane. It is part of our series that highlights the various evidence-based, safe, and effective alternatives available to women and couples for family planning and monitoring reproductive health. We are grateful to Ms. M for her willingness to share her story about the impact of FABMs on her fertility and life.

mother and daughter

Introduction
Ms. M is a woman in her fifties who has used FABMs since her late twenties as her primary method for birth control and family planning. Ms. M spoke to me about various aspects of her decision to use FABMs, specific methods she has tried, her reasons for using FABMs, and how fertility awareness has affected her life.

Ms. M reported that when she first started considering the need for birth control, she began with conventional methods. She was prescribed combined estrogen and progesterone oral contraceptive pills (OCPs) in her early twenties. Unfortunately, she experienced intolerable side effects, including severe headaches, bloating, and a general feeling of not being well. Although her OCPs were adjusted a few times to lower the hormone load, she continued to experience unwanted side effects. Ms. M reports that, at that time, she felt she was not informed about all her options regarding birth control. She also felt there was not adequate warning or explanation given regarding OCPs, their hormonal profiles or potential side effects.

A Different Approach
Due to her poor experience with OCPs, Ms. M developed an interest in FABMs. Her first exposure to fertility awareness was before marriage, when Ms. M and her fiancé learned the basics about FABMs. She was drawn to fertility awareness based methods due to the lack of hormonal side effects, and was also generally interested in understanding more about her fertility and cycles.

Since then, Ms. M has tried a few different FABMs, including the Creighton Model and the Marquette Model, but felt they involved too many steps and were somewhat more complicated than she liked. She later used the Standard Days Method,® which she liked. It worked well for her, as she had regular periods that were no more than 26-32 days in length. Now that she is perimenopausal, Ms. M has been having irregular periods and uses the TwoDay Method,® which she feels works well for her.

Ms. M has had one pregnancy that resulted in a healthy delivery in her thirties. She says this was a planned pregnancy achieved while using FABMs. Other than the fertility awareness based methods, she uses condoms with her husband on days considered fertile according to the two methods she uses.

Ms. M feels that FABMs have been great for her. She thinks it is a pity that not everyone realizes the many different options available for birth control. She feels more education should be provided so women and couples know about all these choices.

Lessons Learned
From this interview, I learned there are many reasons someone might choose to use an FABM instead of more conventional birth control such as oral contraceptive pills. In Ms. M’s case, it was due to health concerns and side effects of OCPs. Also, through Ms. M’s work with people who use the Standard Days Method® regularly, I learned other reasons for using FABMs, including a lack of resources or access to more expensive alternatives, as in third world countries.

Others interested in FABMs include women who want to use more natural methods of birth control, perhaps due to concerns about the impact of artificial hormones on their bodies or even the environment. Other users who favor FABMs include couples actively trying to conceive and those who choose FABMs for religious reasons. Yet, according to Ms. M, only 5-10% of clients of the company where she works, which focuses on the Standard Days Method,® use it for religious reasons.

I learned a lot about FABMs during the interview as well as during the fertility awareness course. By meeting a patient who uses an FABM, I was able to understand more of the motivation as well as ask questions that were interesting to me. Overall, I think FABMs help women understand more about their fertility, be more in tune with their bodies, and plan and take control of their fertility—a natural function that could otherwise be muted with hormonal birth control.

Editor’s Note: This user of FABMs chose to combine two different methods plus condoms. It is important to note that the use of condoms must be taken into account when determining the effectiveness rate of these FABMs. For instance, the Standard Days Method® is 95% effective at preventing pregnancy with perfect use and more than 88% effective with typical use.[i] It is slightly less effective than OCPs but better than barrier contraceptives, such as condoms.[ii] Thus, in this case (as in most cases), adding condoms to an FABM may actually decrease the method’s effectiveness in avoiding pregnancy.

References
[i] Arévalo M., Jennings V., Sinai I. “Efficacy of a new method of family planning: the Standard Days Method.” Contraception 65 (2002): 333–338.
[ii] Trussell, J. “Contraceptive failure in the United States.” Contraception 83 (2011): 397-404.

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MEDICAL STUDENTS!

Would you like to enroll in our two-week ONLINE COURSE about fertility awareness
based methods and their applications in women’s health and family planning?

Here’s how your peers feel about this elective…

I highly recommend this elective to other medical students! Now that I have a much better understanding of the various FABMs, I am prepared to counsel and assist my future patients in determining which method is right for them
— Emily Krach, DO (Dr. Krach completed the elective as a 4th year medical student)

Find out more about this elective and enroll HERE.

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Disclaimer: The mission of FACTS is to educate. Inclusion of specific information in our blog posts, e-newsletters, social media, and other sources does NOT imply endorsement or support by FACTS, its advisors or team members unless specifically noted.

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