The FACTS Team
Editor’s Note: Behavior change has been an essential element of the infection control measures employed to combat the spread of COVID-19 during this pandemic. In every community, city, and state, viral activity and disease prevalence are directly related to the consistency with which these strategies have been instituted and maintained. For this to be possible, the dissemination of accurate information about infection control along with prudent guidelines and practices to keep people safe, increase compliance, and maintain behavior change have been crucial interventions to ensure the health of the public.
So how does this relate to the effectiveness and practical applications of fertility awareness based methods (FABMs)?
It relates in every way discussed above and more! With FABMs, behavior change based on accurate information is foundational — from the need to chart cervical mucus observations, measure basal body temperature (BBT) and/or urinary hormones to the need to practice abstinence or engage in sexual relations during the fertile window based on family planning goals.
Such behaviors are essential elements for success to reap the benefits of consistent use of FABMs. If more women and couples realized how modern, evidence-based FABMs could improve their lives, they would be more willing to change their behavior to benefit from natural, safe, effective, medication- and procedure-free methods to monitor their fertility and plan the size and spacing of their families.
The FACTS team wrote this article to expand on this important topic during a pandemic in which behavior change and information flow have and will continue to make all the difference for the health of entire nations. As always, we welcome your questions and comments and look forward to continuing to educate medical professionals about FABMs so they are equipped with accurate information to share with their patients, increasing people’s choices for health monitoring and family planning. We are also pleased to announce we are building a database of FABM-trained medical professionals and educators to make it easier for people to access these services. If you are interested in being included in our database, please let us know. To learn more about behavior change and the stages of change, several references are included below.
Behavior Change and Fertility Awareness
To care for ourselves effectively, we must define our goals and then modify our behavior, changing our habits as needed to maximize our health. We may eat more fruits and vegetables or train for a 5K or a marathon. New habits could include taking a daily medication, practicing stress-reduction techniques, or adjusting our schedule to incorporate at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. Behavior change can be difficult because we have established firm habits that take time to reverse, and creating new routines requires planning, effort, and discipline. Nevertheless, with support, encouragement, and modeling from others, we can do it.
Using FABMs effectively requires individuals and couples to define their goals and modify their behavior according to their health and/or family planning objectives. The behavior modifications each person makes will differ depending on his or her goals. An adolescent who charts her cycle to predict when her next period will start must ensure she tracks her daily observations. A thirty-year-old who wants to have a baby will learn to identify her potential fertile window for targeted intercourse, whereas a couple wanting to prevent pregnancy will avoid sexual relations during their temporary window of fertility. The beauty of FABMs is that anyone can use these methods to pursue their health and family planning goals. FABMs provide the science and information women and couples need to modify their behavior to achieve their desired results.
Change During a Pandemic and the Different Stages of Life
Although behavior change can be challenging, the COVID-19 pandemic is teaching us that, on a large scale, we are capable of adapting our behavior to our present needs and producing beneficial results. In the early stages of the quarantine, it was not easy to limit social activity, wear a protective mask in public, or face the uncertain availability of food, paper, and cleaning products. Through the experience, we continue to discover creative ways to stay engaged with loved ones, adapt to new routines, and learn to live and thrive with what we have.
Such changes have freed us to spend more time alone, get to know ourselves better, and tend to our personal needs. The crisis has required us to be present today in order to achieve what we hope for tomorrow. Adapting to our current needs by modifying our behavior may continue to challenge us, but it will be worth it. We are already changing the course of the curve, which means the speed of spread of the coronavirus is slowing down as a result of our actions.
Similarly, we can change the course of women’s health and family planning through behavior modifications. In the beginning, it takes effort and discipline for a woman to learn how to chart her cycle and for a couple to know how to use this valuable information. Over time, however, making daily observations of her signs of fertility becomes the new normal. Women and couples adapt their lifestyle choices to their health and family planning goals. They may change their diet, exercise, sleep schedules, and timing of intercourse now to achieve what they desire tomorrow. In doing so, women come to know their bodies and personal needs more profoundly, and couples discover creative ways to express their love and experience greater intimacy. And as their goals change in the different stages of life, they can use different FABMs to meet their family planning needs.
Through this pandemic, we have seen how being in touch with our personal needs and changing our behavior on a local and global scale can produce the outcomes we desire. During this time, consider learning more about the benefits of fertility awareness based methods for women’s health and family planning. You may be surprised by how behavior and lifestyle adjustments can change the course of your fertility.
Editor’s Note: When accurate information about the benefits of healthy practices is disseminated broadly and effectively, behavior change gains momentum as more people recognize potential benefits for them. In such an environment, modern evidence-based FABMs would become as popular as they should be based on their safety and effectiveness records. Unfortunately, the benefits of FABMs and the data regarding their effectiveness for family planning and practical applications for women’s health monitoring are not widely known. They are not yet “cool” or broadly accepted, nor are the many benefits of FABMs acknowledged broadly in the developed world where, over a few decades, the culture became accustomed to medications and high-tech solutions to meet their fertility needs. Instead, it is often challenging for people to find accurate information, trained educators or medical professionals knowledgeable about FABMs who can support patients who desire to use these methods.
Still, the response to this pandemic reminds us we have more autonomy over our choices than perhaps we sometimes recognize. It also highlights the importance of accurate information becoming widely known to champion behavior change by making new healthy choices available. This is one area where FACTS continues to gain momentum through our various educational offerings ranging from CME conferences, live and recorded webinars, presentations by our FACTS-trained speakers to our highly successful online elective.
We remain grateful for our donors and supporters who make our important work possible, including expanding our offerings this year in the midst of a pandemic. We are developing a second online elective as well as a robust database to ensure women and couples have access to FABM-trained medical professionals and accurate, evidence-based information about FABMs in every U.S. city and state. Stay tuned for more information as these unique resources become available!
- Marcus, BH, Banspach, S. W., Lefebvre, R. C., Rossi, J. S., Carleton, R. A., & Abrams, D. B. (1992). Using the stages of change model to increase the adoption of physical activity among community participants. American Journal of Health Promotion, Vol. 6, 424-429.
- Nigg, CR, et al. “Stages of Change across Ten Health Risk Behaviors for Older Adults.” The Gerontologist, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Aug. 1999, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10495586.
- Ory, Marcia G, et al. “The Science of Sustaining Health Behavior Change: the Health Maintenance Consortium.” American Journal of Health Behavior, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2010, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3753403/.
Our NEW 2020
Beyond our core webinars, FACTS is pleased to present a series of new webinars this year — one offered each month through June 2020! These bonus presentations reflect current research and topics of growing interest in the field of fertility awareness.
Registration is now OPEN for these 1-hour webinars. To REGISTER, click on the dates below.
What Can Be Learned from Millions of App Records | Tuesday, April 28th, 8:30 pm EST
What’s New with Fertility Tracking Apps? | Tuesday, May 26th, 8:30 pm EST
Chart Neo & the Visual Fertility Advisor | Tuesday, June 23rd, 8:30 pm EST
ENCORE PRESENTATION –
Stress and its Impact on the Female Cycle | Monday, May 4th, 7:00 pm EST
Given the popularity of our first webinar on stress and fertility, we will offer a second webinar where we take a more in-depth look at Stress and its Impact on the Female Cycle. Join Dr. Joe Stanford and Dr. Marguerite Duane on Monday, May 4th at 7pm ET for a discussion of the hormonal changes and how these may be reflected in fertility awareness charts.
Join Us for Our Core Webinars and Earn CME Credit!
Below are the webinars we offer every month.
To REGISTER, click on the dates below, then share and invite a colleague!
FABMs for Achieving & Avoiding Pregnancy
This presentation focuses on the use of FABMs to achieve pregnancy. It includes a case in which FABM charts assisted to diagnose and treat infertility. Evidence-based FABMs and their effectiveness rates to prevent pregnancy are also discussed.
Monday, April 27th, 1:00pm EST
The Female Cycle as the 5th Vital Sign
This presentation highlights the health of the female cycle and how the fertility awareness chart can aid in the diagnosis and management of common women’s health concerns.
Friday, May 8th, 12:00 pm EST
The Science Behind Fertility Awareness
Our flagship presentation, Fertility & Family Planning, reviews the latest research and science supporting FABMs and their effectiveness to prevent and achieve pregnancy.
Thursday, May 21st, 1:00 pm EST
Save the Dates!
October 1, 2020
FACTS 10-Year Gala | Washington, DC
Join us to celebrate
a Decade of Sharing the FACTS
and to look ahead to the next 10 Years!
October 2, 2020
FACTS 1-Day CME Conference | Washington, DC
Modern Fertility Awareness for Women’s Health
and Family Planning
Our 1-day conference is designed to equip medical and health professionals to offer more holistic and restorative healthcare options for women. Join us to learn more about FABMs and their applications in women’s health and family planning.