December 5, 2018
by Shelly Capps, MD
Editor’s Note: This interview with users of a fertility awareness based method (FABM) is part of FACTS’ Interview Series through which we highlight the benefits of these methods of family planning. Although FABMs may not be for everyone, studies show that most women who hear about these modern, safe, evidence-based methods are curious and want to learn more. Once educated, many women choose to try one of the methods, appreciate learning about their bodies and fertility, and feel empowered and healthier. The couple’s experience summarized below is one example; their names were changed to protect their privacy.
Jada and William chose to learn the Creighton Model after their family physician, Dr. Marguerite Duane, suggested it to address potential health concerns. They were first drawn to this physician due to her direct primary care (DPC) medical practice. Yet, they were excited to learn Dr. Duane had received further training in women’s health and infertility, which proved to be pivotal in meeting their healthcare and family planning needs.
Why Choose FABMs?
Jada and William have two children ages 4 and 7 and have hoped to have a third child for several years. They also wish they could have conceived their first child sooner, as they conceived about three years after their marriage.
FABMs appealed to Jada because she has always preferred a natural approach to her health, consistent with her African culture. She is wary of medications and their side effects. She was also interested in learning more about her body. Prior to using the Creighton Model, Jada was self-motivated to learn about FABMs by exploring various sources. She watched some online videos about the Billings Ovulation Method. She learned from a friend who used CycleBeads. Once married, Jada began charting her cycles on her own from what she learned independently.
A Growing Family Benefits from FABMs
Jada was excited to learn and use the Creighton Model in order to optimize her fertility. She appreciates that using FABMs has no adverse side effects to her health. Her husband believes the Creighton Model also fits well with her personality because she is very detail-oriented. He is supportive and encourages her to continue charting and meeting with her Creighton instructor.
Overall, they report their marriage has not necessarily changed by using an FABM. Some challenges to the method include learning the details involved with charting and some concepts like identifying the peak day or recognizing a double peak day. Jada has enjoyed meeting with both her Creighton instructor and her physician and learning the nuances of charting with her instructor. She looks forward to reviewing her hormone analysis with her physician and hopes there may be a treatable hormonal aspect that can be optimized to increase her chances of conceiving.
Jada feels the last few months of charting have confirmed what she had noticed on her own prior to starting the Creighton Model. She feels more confident and understands her body better. William reports a greater understanding of the many factors involved in a couple’s fertility. This has strengthened his faith, as he feels more strongly that a human life must be ‘divinely designed’ and that the creation of another human being is no accident. Jada and William had prayed for their children before they were conceived, and now they are praying for a third. They see their Creighton instructor and their family physician as part of God’s plan for their marriage and family.
A Physician Reflects on Fertility Awareness
As a medical professional, I was delighted to see that women, especially women of color, were interested in learning more about the physiology of their bodies. I appreciated hearing various reasons why FABMs may appeal to women and men, and how different FABMs may suit different users better depending on their needs and goals.
A woman may choose a certain FABM partly based on whether or not she prefers to check physical signs such as cervical mucus, temperature, and hormone levels. But a particular FABM may work better for certain women based on their personality and how they approach their health. For those who like to focus on details, a method like the Creighton Model may be a good choice, while the Standard Days Method may work better for someone with regular menses who does not want to chart on a daily basis.
I enjoyed talking about FABMs with both the husband and wife, instead of the woman alone. It was interesting to hear the husband’s perspective of what using an FABM entails, how he believes using an FABM has affected their relationship, and even his thoughts on what it means to have a child. It is beautiful to see a couple paying attention to their health so deliberately in order to grow their family.
Editor’s Note: Although women can learn about fertility awareness and FABMs through various sources, the best way to learn how to use individual methods is through a trained instructor. At FACTS, we are committed to making this easier by training the trainers and educating physicians in training as well as allied health professionals. We are proud to be a reputable source for women and couples to find accurate information about FABMs—what they are, how they work, and their actual effectiveness rates, which are higher when the methods are used properly as a result of adequate training.
Author Bio: Shelly Capps, MD is a 3rd year family medicine resident at Presence Resurrection in Chicago, IL. She completed her medical education at Loyola University Chicago and her undergraduate education at Stanford University. She participated in the FACTS elective taught by Dr. Marguerite Duane at Georgetown University School of Medicine in July 2018.
RESIDENTS AND MEDICAL STUDENTS!
Join the expanding and popular FACTS Ambassador Program!
We invite you to take advantage of this unique opportunity for medical residents and students! Enjoy monthly calls with experts in the field. Learn how to handle questions that come up in clinical settings regarding women’s health, fertility awareness, charting, and much more.
More Benefits of the FACTS Ambassador Program:
- Participating in research
- Getting published
- Developing public speaking and presentation skills early in your career
- Attending national meetings and learning from experts in the field
- Expanding your clinical knowledge and skills in women’s health
- Building and growing your network
- Making connections that will last your entire career
- Working with other students & residents interested in fertility awareness
- The opportunity to become a trained speaker for FACTS
- Learning from one another and growing professionally together
- Getting to work with the FACTS team!