By Marguerite Duane, MD, MHA, FAAFP
July 24, 2018
“I was stunned. As a physician, how was it that I knew nothing about this?”
I was 29 years old and a newly minted physician before I ever heard about fertility awareness based methods (FABMs). This occurred during the first year of my family medicine residency at Lancaster General Hospital. As physicians, we were taught that caring for a new mom in the hospital included ensuring she had birth control before leaving so she wouldn’t return a year later expecting again. One night, while preparing my post-partum patients for discharge by writing their orders for birth control, my senior resident, Dr. Pearl Huang, discussed the importance of considering the impact of hormonal contraception, including potential side effects. To my surprise, she then explained there is a way a woman can learn to manage her fertility without any medical side effects.
Really? No side effects? Curious, I asked how. And she said, well, you can teach her how to chart her cycles by observing specific physical signs so she can learn to identify that window of fertility when she can get pregnant. I looked at her shocked and confused, thinking, what are you talking about? So she reviewed the menstrual cycle with me: the first half being the follicular phase followed by the luteal phase, with ovulation occurring in between, and how there’s a narrow window of time when a woman can conceive. She explained that by learning to chart observable signs of fertility, a woman can use an FABM to prevent or achieve pregnancy or to simply understand her body better.
I was stunned. As a physician, how was it that I knew nothing about this? In medical school, I was one of those students who went to every lecture. So I thought, I know I didn’t miss this lecture on charting the signs of the female cycle because I went to every class. How is it that I graduated from medical school never having heard about FABMs?
Then something critical dawned on me. How can I provide high quality comprehensive women’s healthcare if I don’t understand this whole aspect of women’s health? This insight planted the seed that changed the trajectory of my career. I began to focus on learning more about these methods. I learned them for personal use to address my menstrual health concerns and I learned them so I could teach my patients.
A few years later, I heard about the Creighton Model of natural family planning (NFP). This method provided a practical way to not only learn about charting from a family planning perspective, but also learn its applications to address a range of women’s health issues. I went through the Creighton Model training in 2008. Since then, I have been able to help patients address a range of health concerns effectively, including PMS, polycystic ovarian disease, and infertility. In 2010, I was invited to teach a healthcare related elective to a small group of medical students at Georgetown University. I thought this would be an amazing opportunity to introduce them to all FABMs, since I never learned about these methods while in medical school. This ultimately led to the foundation of FACTS and the rest, as they say, is history!
Meet Dr. Marguerite Duane
Co-Founder and Executive Director
Dr. Duane is co-founder and Executive Director of FACTS. A Board-certified family physician, she serves as an Adjunct Associate Professor at Georgetown University, where she directs an introductory course on natural or fertility awareness based methods (NFP/FABMs) of family planning. She is also a physician with Modern Mobile Medicine, a direct primary care (DPC) house calls-based practice serving patients of all ages in the D.C. metropolitan area. She has served on the board of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) and the Family Medicine Education Consortium (FMEC).
Dr. Duane is trained as a Creighton Medical consultant and a TeenSTAR educator. She received her M.D. degree with recognition in primary care from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and completed her family medicine residency at Lancaster General Hospital in Lancaster, PA. She received a Bachelor of Science with Honors degree and a Master of Health Administration from Cornell University. She has published articles on the effectiveness of FABMs for family planning and the use of apps for tracking fertility. She has also developed and delivered multiple presentations on the use of FABMs for family planning and women’s health.
Marguerite balances her career as a teacher and family physician with her cherished role as a mother and wife. She is proud to be accompanied on this life’s journey by her husband and fellow family physician, Dr. Kenneth Lin, and they are delighted to be the parents of four young children.