February 5, 2019
Editor’s Note: The FACTS Advisory Council consists of a talented and diverse group of individuals whose guidance and support are crucial to the success of our organization. Being a member of our Advisory Council is a voluntary position and all their work with FACTS is a generous contribution of time and expertise. This year, we are featuring one of our Council members each month to highlight their unique contributions to our mission. Our series continues with Dr. Mike Manhart, who has been the third FACTS musketeer since 2011. His experience in research has provided a firm foundation for FACTS as the leading source of evidence-based information about fertility awareness.
Meet Mike Manhart, PhD
Dr. Mike Manhart is the former chief executive officer at Couple to Couple League (CCL), the largest organization that trains teachers as well as users of a natural method of family planning (the Sympto-Thermal Method). He served on the FACTS executive team from 2011 to 2015 and was the lead author on our award-winning article, Fertility awareness-based methods of family planning: A review of effectiveness for avoiding pregnancy using SORT.
His Path to FACTS
Dr. Marguerite Duane met Dr. Manhart within a year of starting FACTS and invited him to join the FACTS executive team. He was thrilled to meet others who shared his belief in the importance of science supporting fertility awareness based methods (FABMs). His previous career as a research scientist has been a tremendous asset to the mission of FACTS and his research background was instrumental as we formulated a research plan.
When he joined our efforts, there were no systematic reviews of effectiveness studies of FABMs, so Dr. Manhart took the lead in our comprehensive review of the science behind FABMs. He led a team of about six researchers and educators to review studies on the research behind FABMs dating back to 1980. The team evaluated the strength and quality demonstrated in each of these studies by using SORT (Strength of Recommendation Taxonomy) criteria. This became our first research article, which was published in a peer-reviewed journal in 2013. This foundational project would not have occurred without his leadership, expertise, and willingness to dedicate the time and energy it required.
In His Own Words
When asked what has been most meaningful about his work with FACTS, Dr. Manhart focused on students. He appreciates “seeing medical students experience that ‘Aha!’ moment when they see the reproductive physiology they’ve been taught in school is applicable to more than just assisted reproductive technology (ART) and managing infertility. This is often quickly followed by a comment on how they feel betrayed when no one in their school told them about FABMs.”
Changing Culture and the Mission of FACTS
As a result of his years with CCL, Dr. Manhart is intimately acquainted with the training of teachers of FABMs. He has also been an active participant in FACTS’ ongoing clinical trial of a shared decision-making (SDM) tool we developed for medical professionals to use to assist women or couples decide which FABM is best for them.
Dr. Manhart’s experiences as a teacher for CCL fuel his commitment to ensure the mission of FACTS is accomplished. “My wife and I have been active FABM teachers for over thirty years. We have experienced countless times a woman or couple coming back to us dejected after mentioning how they are going to use an FABM to their physician and getting a dismissive comment back. That single uninformed comment does so much damage to the excitement and commitment the woman or couple had, and damages FABM credibility.” He speaks of the mission of FACTS as a “critical weapon” to combat misinformation about fertility awareness. “FABMS may not be for everyone,” he asserts, “but let’s not belittle those who want to use them.”
“FACTS has a long way to go to impact the culture of medicine and well-funded organizations are unwilling to let groups like FACTS become a dominant influence, so I don’t expect to live to see the sea change that’s needed in organized medicine. In the interim, however, we can focus on what we can influence: our neighbors, our communities, anyplace we can find to make our case. FACTS has done a good job of staying focused on these opportunities and I’m confident we are making a difference, even if it sometimes seems not so on the broader front.”
At FACTS, we know how much work lies ahead of us as we seek to change the culture of medicine by educating medical professionals about fertility awareness. Yet, with the support and expertise of people like Dr. Manhart, we know we will continue to make a difference. We are grateful to have Dr. Mike Manhart as an integral part of FACTS and our Advisory Council.
More About Dr. Manhart
Dr. Manhart serves as the senior scientific consultant for the Couple to Couple League. After earning a doctorate in microbiology from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, he embarked on a career in Research and Development with Procter & Gamble. While there, he held management roles of increasing responsibility in various global healthcare and pharmaceutical organizations until he retired in 2008 as director of Research and Development.
Dr. Manhart and his wife have served as volunteer CCL teachers for over twenty-five years. He served on the CCL Board of Directors from 2007 to 2009 and as Executive Director of CCL from 2009 to 2016. He resides in Cincinnati and is the proud father of four and grandfather of five wonderful children.
FACTS 2019 SPRING CONFERENCES
Modern Fertility Awareness for Family Planning & Women’s Health
In response to the growing interest in FABMs, the FACTS team is coordinating three one-day conferences in 2019. Join us in Cleveland, Indianapolis or Dallas to learn about timely issues in women’s reproductive health!
February 23, 2019
8:30 AM – 5:00 PM
April 5, 2019
8:30 AM – 5:00 PM
And stay tuned for more details, as this conference will be offered in Dallas, TX in the fall as well! We hope to see you!
Expand your knowledge
with one of our
These 1-hour presentations are an excellent way
to expand your knowledge of FABMs
and BONUS – most are approved for CME credit!
Fertility Awareness Based
Methods for Achieving
and Preventing Pregnancy
Tuesday, Mar 12
2:00 PM EST