Their FABM of Choice: The Marquette Model
By: Annie Jacobson, MD
Director’s Note: This week we share an interview written by Dr. Annie Jacobson, a FACTS Ambassador and former FACTS elective student. She spoke with Jess,* a woman who first heard the term “NFP” growing up but had her interest piqued in college thanks to a conversation on fertility awareness-based methods (FABMs). While Jess decided on the Marquette Model as her method of choice, Dr. Jacobson, who is training to become a Creighton NaPro medical consultant, notes the value of training medical professionals to be able to interpret and utilize a woman’s chart — no matter the method! To find an FABM-trained practitioner near you, check out the FACTS Directory.
Jess,* a newlywed and new user of the Marquette Model shared her FABM journey with me as she was driving home from a weekend adventure back to life in the city.
Although Jess heard the words “NFP” growing up in a Catholic environment, she never really learned much about it until her senior year of college. While attending a bible study on campus, the topic of contraceptives surfaced, and a conversation on fertility awareness-based methods (FABMs) began. Though the logistics of various methods were not discussed at the time, she was intrigued. She understood the faith-based reasons for the use of FABMs and felt called to use these methods in the future, hopefully in marriage.
While this new information was exciting to Jess, it would be several years before it would resurface. She recalls getting engaged and deciding with her fiancé that they wanted to practice NFP, although neither had much information about what that meant in reality. Fortunately, through their local faith community, they found a wealth of information. They met with a local teacher familiar with a variety of FABM methods who spent time with the couple, helping them better understand their options. Together, Jess and her fiancé decided to use the Marquette Model, an FABM which utilizes a woman’s urinary hormones and cervical mucus to map her fertile and infertile pattern. These biomarkers paint the picture of the woman’s fertility so that the couple can decide together to time intercourse during the cycle in order to achieve or avoid pregnancy.
Jess described how eye-opening their time with their instructor was. Though she thought she had understood her cycle, she was shocked to learn about the signs of her fertility and the predictable natural changes of her hormones. Although she hadn’t taken biology classes in college, she now understood how her hormones worked through using the Marquette system. The Marquette Model utilizes the ClearBlue fertility monitor to track levels of two main hormones, estradiol and luteinizing hormone (LH), that can be detected in the urine.
“Jess described how eye-opening their time with their instructor was … she was shocked to learn about the signs of her fertility and the predictable natural changes of her hormones.”
Jess understands now that in the beginning of her cycle, estradiol rises as her body prepares to ovulate. The monitor is able to detect this rise in estradiol and read “low” or “high.” Right before ovulation, the monitor will read “peak” as it detects a rise in LH, which can trigger the release of an egg. In addition to the information provided by the monitor, the Marquette Model also helped her understand a biomarker all women experience but few discuss: cervical mucus. Jess learned that cervical mucus, a key component of fertility, begins to appear and change in response to the rising estrogen in her body, which correlates with the readings of her monitor. Her teacher helped her to understand the connection between her cervical mucus and her fertility, which gave her confidence in identifying fertile and infertile days.
Though she was presented with information about several FABMs — including the Creighton Model, the Billings Ovulation and the Sympto-Thermal Method — Jess and her fiancé opted for Marquette as they both liked the idea of modern technology playing a role. Through the use of the ClearBlue monitor, they get daily data readings of her urinary hormones, a concrete biomarker, which increases the couple’s confidence in accurately identifying fertile and infertile days. While this method also uses cervical mucus in its readings, similar to methods such as Creighton, Billings, and Sympto-Thermal, Jess and her fiancé like that the monitor provides a “double check” to the signs she observes.
“I would recommend the Marquette method to couples who are maybe a little intimidated by FABMs,” Jess said. “I think it’s a really simple way to begin understanding your cycle, and then if you want to focus on additional symptoms, you can add them as you need.”
As our conversation drew to a close, Jess and I expressed a sense of both gratitude and frustration regarding our experiences learning about FABMs.
“I can’t imagine if I had lived my whole life not knowing about this,” Jess said. “I understand my body so much better. I am more aware of how I am feeling and how that is connected to where I am at in my cycle.”
“I can’t imagine if I had lived my whole life not knowing about this,” Jess said. “I understand my body so much better. I am more aware of how I am feeling and how that is connected to where I am at in my cycle. I think that it’s something we could do much better at. I think it is so empowering, and I wish all women and girls had access to this information.”
I couldn’t agree more. My conversation with Jess was incredibly impactful. Personally, I use the Creighton Model, and I am training to become a Creighton NaPro physician. As with most things in medicine, it is important to understand there is not just one way of doing things, and with family planning, there are a variety of evidence-based natural methods available. By educating myself, I will be equipped to best help the patients I one day hope to treat. By participating in the FACTS elective, I learned the efficacy of each method and how to read each charting system. Through conversation with an actual user of a method, I came to understand that each couple has different goals, levels of comfort, and life circumstances that shape their personal preferences for the FABM they may choose. I am so thankful for this opportunity to learn about each method, and I hope to continue learning as I seek to include an understanding of all FABMs in my future medical practice.
“As with most things in medicine, it is important to understand there is not just one way of doing things, and with family planning, there are a variety of evidence-based natural methods available. By educating myself, I will be equipped to best help the patients I one day hope to treat.”
*Names have been changed to respect the privacy of the interviewee and her family. All information is shared with permission.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Annie Jacobson, MD
Dr. Annie Jacobson is a family medicine resident at Halifax Hospital in Daytona Beach, FL. Originally from Duluth, MN, she completed her medical training at the University of Minnesota Medical School, Duluth Campus and her undergraduate education at Providence College in Providence, RI. During residency, she hopes to further pursue her interests in obstetrics, as well as health equity for rural underserved and non-English speaking patients. She recently completed her training as a Creighton NaPro Medical Consultant through the Saint Paul the VI Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction. With this training, she hopes to begin diagnosing and treating the causes of infertility while also helping her patients understand and work with their fertility to achieve their optimal health and family planning goals.
She enrolled in the FACTS elective during her 4th year of medical school to gain a better understanding of other fertility appreciation and awareness based methods. With this information, she feels empowered to help anyone who wishes to chart their cycles to select a method that’s right for them.