I'm a doctorIt seems that for the fertility savvy user (who knows there may be some issues afoot) the doctor dilemma is always looming.  We are constantly having discussions on-site with women who are struggling to find a competent, fertility knowledgeable physician. Even though I’m often in the role of helping to find local options for those women, I have now found myself in the same dilemma as many of them and I can’t help but ask: “Why does this have to be so difficult!”

I understand that NaPro Trained doctors are specialists and that often more complicated matters need a specialist for advice. But why does what seems so common sense to those of us who understand even the basics of what healthy fertility looks like, seem so foreign to the medical world around us?

I recently went in for my yearly exam.  We moved to this area about a year ago however I haven’t properly establish with a doctor yet.  I knew the appointment was a bit of a wild card as the doctor I had heard “good things” about wasn’t available.  I scheduled the appointment for Peak + 7, the best day to schedule a progesterone test and hoped I could get the test ordered.  I’d been having a Luteal Phase (post ovulation) of only 8 days at most which is much shorter then it should be. Everything else looked normal with my charts so I knew getting my progesterone checked was likely the place to start.  On the positive side the doctor I saw didn’t give me a hard time about using NFP, though I also didn’t get the picture that he had any idea about what it was or how it worked. He did talk about him and his wife not needing to postpone pregnancy for any reason so they “didn’t use anything either.” (….ok..)

He agreed to run the labs but prepared me for the fact that he didn’t believe progesterone supplementation was proven to do much of anything in the post ovulation phase, even in times of pregnancy and threatened miscarriage.  He gave a couple of personal experiences where women who had high progesterone went on to miscarry but women with “low” progesterone went on to have a healthy pregnancy despite no supplementation.  He said unless my results were quite literally nothing, that he would be very hesitant to do anything at all. He did say that if he had a patient who was pregnant and somewhat hysterical he would consider doing the progesterone for her peace of mind. Since we aren’t trying to conceive and I’m not a very hysterical person even in the worst of circumstances I was all but certain no action would be taken regardless of the results.

As I don’t have the time or money to wander from doctor to doctor and I didn’t want to wait another cycle for the test, I had them do the draw. Several days later I got a call from the nurse who was very chipper about my test result of 2.7.  She said it was within the doctors acceptable “normal” range of 1.7 – 27 and the doctor was very pleased….can you hear the birds chirping in my stunted silence?  For those of you unfamiliar with progesterone testing, a P+7 result qualifying for “normal” should be at least in the 12 – 15 range.  This isn’t tough stuff.  This SHOULD be basic medicine. 

I’m thankful to have NaPro trained docs within an hour of my home. My paperwork is in transit as I type.  However, many women are not so lucky.  But finding the time in our schedule for my husband to take work off and watch the kids so I can get there, and the money to pay for yet another appointment and likely more testing, seems so unnecessary at this stage. What do we need to do to improve the education of our everyday doctors? Why does med school seem to be so incredibly lacking in truth regarding what a healthy female cycle looks like and what it doesn’t look like?  What can we, as patients, do to help our doctors move in the right direction?

I absolutely realize that not all doctors fall into the above stereotype! I’ve had good doctors in the past who knew nothing about charting or NaPro when we met. Several of them respected the knowledge I’d gained over the years and actually did some research into what I was talking about.  My last doctor was a wonderfully respectful, low intervention minded man.  Our doctor, patient, relationship thrived on our mutual respect and a shared sense of humor.  When he finally looked into some of the reading I gave him on NaPro he said it was like a door opening to a whole other world of information that he never knew existed.  He was astonished with how little was included in his med school studies. I also realize that doctors are so very busy caring for their patients and their families that time to do research on something they have never heard of is a stretch to say the least.

Have you ever worked with a doctor who didn’t know anything about NFP or NaPro and had a positive outcome?  What do you think helped?  What would you suggest?  Do you think there is a good way to approach the subject with an otherwise uninformed doctor?

I’d love to hear any thoughts on the subject!  Maybe we need to work towards a “doctor evangelizing how-to” guide!  And while we think on that, let’s not forget to thank (profusely) the physicians we have or know of that work hard and often sacrifice greatly to have practices that uphold natural fertility and seek licit ways to heal those struggling with fertility issues.

NFP-DocOne of the most common issues NFP users face is finding a doctor who “gets it”. In fact most women don’t even expect that. When it comes down to it we really just desire a doctor who will respect our decision to use NFP when postponing a pregnancy rather than whatever artificial pill, patch, or barrier samples were left behind by the last pharmaceutical rep. to enter the building. This is no tall order. This should be easy but often is not.

If you are struggling to find an NFP friendly doctor don’t lose hope! Try the following and with any luck you will find some great options in your area! Generally speaking as you are going down the list, the fewer steps it takes you to find a doctor, the more likely they will be not only NFP friendly, but possibly even trained in a specialty such as NaProTechnology.

  1. Creighton Fertility Care: Check out the Fertility Care Website and use the left hand index to “Find a Medical Consultant” (if looking specifically for a NaPro Doctor please e-mail fcco[at]popepaulvi.com for the most up-to-date information on your area.)
  2. One More Soul’s NFP Directory: Run a search for your area (Helpful, but not always 100% upt to date. No luck? See#3)
  3. Network:
      • Contact your closest Catholic NFP Diocesan Coordinator. Let them know you are looking for an NFP friendly doctor in the area.
      • Seek out and call your local NFP instructors! More than likely they go to the doctor from time to time so see who they use!
      • Search for a Pro-Life OB/GYNS (AAPLOG) . While not all physicians identified as Pro-Life are NFP friendly, many are.
      • Consider calling a few of the local Midwives if you have any in your area. Though not all are supportive of NFP, many are, and might know of a doctor in your area who is as well!
  1. Social Network: You never know who people know, so post to our Forum, the Facebook NFP Group (CLOSED group is probably the best option), or your NFP tweeps.

Whenever I attend or teach at the Catholic Writers Conference Online, I sign into the chat room during early mornings for the virtual prayer group. We type the sign of the cross (+) and then the prayer leader posts a prayer, and when we’re done with it, we post (Amen.)  After that, we name our prayer intentions. And it works well…except for when it doesn’t.

The first time I did this, I admit I was surprised and bemused, but later I realized that of course if God is omnipresent and all Christians are part of the mystical body of Christ, then there’s no reason to limit ourselves to being in the same room in order to pray as a group. We’re harnessing the power of a chat room, but in a virtual way two or three are gathered, and if God isn’t amused, at the very least I can’t imagine He’s offended.

At any rate, one day it struck me about the sheer number of intentions: people in need of jobs, people in need of health, folks dealing with difficult individuals… More general ones, like those in danger of death today. For a moment, I felt inundated by all these personal universes bumping into one another. As the quote goes (rough paraphrase,) Everyone around you is fighting a great battle.

peachAt one point, someone asked that we pray for world peach.

I didn’t blink. I’m a writer: I’m used to mentally editing everything I read, and there’s nothing spectacular about a typo. But then I realized: She just had us all pray for world peach. And while we all understand what she meant to pray for, technically speaking, we’d just prayed for fruit.

Peaches, for the whole world. Or maybe just one big, world-nurturing peach.

I’ve asked before if God will retroactively reassign the pointers if we’ve accidentally prayed for the wrong thing, like when I prayed for Family 5J during the food basket drive, only the family I’d been assigned to was actually Family 5K. Which family got the blessings? The parish priest (poor beleaguered man) gave a weak smile when I asked. But God’s big and God’s smart, so maybe God blessed both of them.

This time I’m not so blasé. We gathered in the name of Jesus and prayed for World Peach. I’m not sure what’s going to happen next.

nightlampOne of the things my husband and I love to do together is watch sports. We tuned in on Saturdays this fall to watch our beloved Notre Dame Irish play football (who finished undefeated, but sadly lost the National Title game…still, go Irish!!). Once the football season ended ND basketball had already begun! If you’ve ever watched a game you’ll know that with ND home sporting events comes the beautiful overhead campus shots, and for us, beautiful overhead campus shots come with lots of nostalgia…

My husband James and I met on Notre Dame’s campus in the fall of 2004 where we were both undergraduates. We had a class together so we saw each other often and started “officially” dating soon after we met. We quickly realized we had a challenge to our relationship though… we were “long-distance.” On Notre Dame’s campus, it takes a solid 15-20 minutes to walk from end to end, and our respective dormitories were indeed at opposite ends. Every time I would tell a friend what dorm my new boyfriend lived in, they would sympathize with a sad, knowing nod and a gentle pat on the shoulder – they knew many a relationship had not survived the distance. It just got too cold in South Bend…who could blame them?  But James and I knew we were different. Our relationship was special and we were determined to make it work!

All of the dorms on campus are single-sex and all have a chapel and offer Sunday evening Mass for their residents. Many mens’ dorms also offer daily Mass in the evenings since they usually have a priest or two in residence and James’ dorm was no exception.

As our relationship progressed we started to make 10 PM daily Mass a part of our routine. This was a great wholesome way to grow together as a couple but afterwards there I was, all the way across campus from my warm bed (or warm desk as it were…let’s not pretend I had all of my studying done). James, being the gentleman that he is, wouldn’t dream of letting me walk back alone. However, he was in ROTC at the time and had a daily 5:30 AM wake up. I felt really guilty having him walk me 15-20 minutes home in the freezing cold and then have to turn around and walk 15-20 minutes back when he needed to get to bed. Many times he would tell me, “Too bad, I’m walking you back,” but I finally got him to agree, most nights, to part ways at a halfway point near the student center. To throw in a little more corny romance, this also just happened to be near the spot of our first kiss.

Over time, we noticed that right next to our “spot” was a lamppost that was marked “CR-42.” We adopted it as our own little landmark. No one else could claim their favorite spot on campus was a random lamppost! Sometimes we’d text each other, “CR-42 in 30?” and we’d know exactly where to go. Sometimes he’d even pop into the student center before I arrived and would surprise me with a warm cup of coffee. We even had our spot mentioned in Notre Dame Magazine when the editors were collecting stories of people’s favorite campus spots.

We look back now and realize that those walks and those long pauses at CR-42 were really a blessed and special time. Campus was quiet, beautiful and peaceful, and even when it was bitterly cold we’d hold hands and walk close and James would make fun of the strange way I would take in my breath to try and warm myself. We had some of our best conversations on those walks home and at that lamppost and while I was jealous of my roommate whose boyfriend lived in the dorm right next to ours, I loved the intentionality of our relationship and wouldn’t trade those walks or talks for anything.

In January 2009 after we had both graduated James and I went to visit campus for the day and attended a basketball game. Afterwards we took a walk around campus and when we made it over to the lamppost James suggested that we have someone take a picture of us there. We found a willing volunteer and as I turned towards the camera to smile James turned me to face him, got down on one knee in the snow, and proposed, making the spot ever more special.

As we’ve grown and settled into married live we’ve realized our distance and our walks were not just a special time or beautiful memory, but also very formative, helping us set a strong foundation for marriage and using NFP. We learned patience, delayed gratification, how to enjoy chaste activities together, and how to have deep conversation. James and I still treasure walking together and continue to share our hopes, fears, and dreams as we stroll. Our walks now usually include our young son and it’s amazing to see how far we’ve come since we were a couple of teenagers in college.

I don’t know the next time we’ll be on campus (several hundred miles, a tight budget, and a young child currently make that more difficult) but I know whenever it happens we’ll be sure to stop by CR-42.

Breaking from our normal Frequently Asked Friday format this, and the following several posts, will be done as a series.  Please consider sharing your experiences and helpful tips in the comments below!

So you’ve decided to start charting your fertility!  That’s awesome!  But now what? Well…Let me find my inner Julie Andrews and we’ll start at the very beginning and work through this together!

Whether you are single and charting for health reasons, or are married and in serious need of postponing pregnancy, the NFP world can be a very confusing place with the different options, methods, and providers, to sort through.  For the NFP newbie and even some of us veterans it’s hard to know where to start and which direction would be best for us.  And that’s the thing!  There’s no one method that is best for every. single. person.  What method is best for you depends on your own personal needs, limitations, and complicating factors. As there are no absolutes the below information as well as future information in this series should not be taken as “gospel” but rather should be considered encouragement in the thought process needed to make an informed decision.

Step One: Know your options!

You can’t discern what may or may not work for you if you don’t know what your options are. So to start out there are two things I would suggest.

First – Take some time to learn about the various NFP methods available.  While you do this consider the following:

While charting multiple fertility signs can mean more clarity for some, for others, it can also mean more confusion.  It’s common for the NFP newbie to assume that the more symptoms they track the more effective or reliable their charting will be but this often just isn’t so. As you research, try to not to make any assumptions about one method being more effective then another based on what symptoms it tracks or how it tracks them.  All modern NFP methods are highly effective in perfect use (every rule applied accurately, every time), so choosing a method is more about finding one that compliments your personality as well as any physical limitations you may have. It’s about finding a method that you fit best with so following the rules is made as easy for you as possible.

     You can learn about some of the NFP Methods available through the following links:

    • Our LTS NFP Methods Directory – You will notice there are 3 main categories of methods (Sympto-Hormonal, Mucus Only, and Sympto-Hormonal) with several providers for each method type.  We have described (In a very basic way) the symptoms each method-type tracks as well as provided links to a page about each method where you can learn more and be directed to the provider’s business page for further detail. Over the next couple of posts in this series we will talk more about the differences between the methods and how that may affect your choice.
    • Catholicmom.com has a write up from Sarah Fox Peterson which contains a more observation based description of the method options.  Note: we will only be recommending commonly used methods that are based on daily observations and are approved but the USCCB. This sheet gives a nice overview however of what is out there.
    • iusenfp.com also has descriptive write-ups on many of the options currently available. These descriptions go even more into detail about the daily observations made by each method category so definitely make time to check it out!

Second – While most methods now have online options or can be taught virtually, most NFP instructors and users who have worked through any amount of charting difficulty, will tell you that being in close contact with a knowledgeable instructor is invaluable. Whether you are Catholic or not, I would highly suggest contacting your local Catholic Church.  Find out if they are aware of any instructors in the area and ask if they have any information on who you could contact at the Diocese for more information. Unfortunately not all Diocese have an official NFP office however, most should at least have a contact person with a general idea of instructors in your area.  In addition you can go straight to the methods. Most have an instructors list or will respond to a quick e-mail for options in your area.  In my opinion, if all else is even close to equal, I’d err on the side of working with a knowledgeable, in-person, instructor if at all possible.  That being said if you are limited in the methods available to you locally don’t lose hope!  In the digital age we live in, working long distance is easier then ever before.  In our next post we’ll look at several of the most popular NFP methods today and review how they’re using technology to benefit their students and streamline their method.  We’ll also review common costs involved with start-up as well as any monthly expenses that may be incurred.

Is there something you would like discussed moving forward? Something you are curious about or you feel would have been invaluable when you were just an NFP novice?  Leave a comment below or contact us and we’ll be sure to cover it in future posts!

To see the rest of this “How to get started series” Click Here!

In continuation of our Natural Family Planning: How to Get Started Series we will take the next several weeks to learn more about the most commonly used, modern, NFP methods.  This week we are happy to welcome LTS member and BOM Instructor, Shawna Van Uden to give us a review of the Billings Ovulation Method! Thank you so much Shawna!

BOMhomepage

The Billings Ovulation Method™ (BOM) is taught in 150 countries and used by millions of women around the world. It was developed by Drs John and Evelyn Billings, validated by international scientists and successfully trialed by the World Health Organization. By learning to identify the natural signals of fertility, a woman can use the BOM to become pregnant or avoid pregnancy and to safeguard her reproductive health.

Observations

Cervical mucus is observed by paying attention to the sensation at the vulva while going about normal daily activities. There is no need to alter the daily routine or change any habits in the bathroom. There is also no need to touch the mucus or the inside of the vagina.  

Charting

At the end of the day, the woman uses one or two of her own words to chart the most fertile sensation of the day and to describe anything she happened to see.   Colored stamps are used on the chart to classify the observation as fertile or infertile. An instructor works closely with her to identify her own unique patterns of fertility and infertility.

BOMchart

Special Circumstances

Basic BOM Instructors are trained to deal with special circumstances; such as breastfeeding, peri-menopause, PCOS, discontinuing hormonal contraceptives, continuous mucus, etc .   Instructors are strongly encouraged to consult with their supervisors with any questions or uncertainties. Clients can also be referred to an Advanced Instructor if needed. Medical assistance is also encouraged when appropriate.

Instruction

Instruction in the BOM includes method training and personalized follow up. First, clients attend an Initial Instruction session. This may be done privately with the instructor or in a class setting.   The science and guidelines of the method are explained in full at this presentation.   Clients can then begin their first chart and enter the follow up phase.   Follow ups with the Instructor are private and confidential.   They are done every 2 – 4 weeks, as needed, until the client is confident in the method.   The time it takes to become confident varies from couple to couple and their circumstances. A minimum of 5 follow ups is ideal.  This format for learning the BOM is usually the same whether the instruction is provided face to face, by phone, or online. Follow up is the most critical component of BOM instruction.

Cost

The philosophy of the BOM is that every woman is entitled to the knowledge of her fertility. No woman is denied instruction if she cannot afford the fees.   Each BOM office sets its own Fee for Service, usually between $50 – $150.   This includes a donation to the local association, the cost of materials, and a small fee to compensate the instructor for his/her time.   The Fee for Services is a onetime donation and covers all the support a client needs in her reproductive lifetime. Even if she switches BOM instructors, she will not be asked to pay the fee again.

Benefits

The BOM keeps things very simple, even when cycles are complicated. There are only 4 rules to remember for avoiding pregnancy, which can be applied in any situation.   It also has guidelines for anyone with what may seem like continuous mucus, to tell the difference between infertile discharge and truly fertile mucus. The BOM focuses on determining whether each day is fertile or infertile, so it does not matter how early or late ovulation may occur. Each day’s fertility or infertility is determined daily, as it happens.

Over 50 years of research has verified the BOM’s high effectiveness for avoiding pregnancy (99.6%). Even the government of China includes the BOM as an approved form of birth control; in keeping with their one child policy.

Technology

Online Charting – www.nfpcharting.com, approved by WOOMB International.   There are a few other charting apps and websites that claim to be compatible with the BOM, but so far only nfpcharting.com is officially approved.   This site also has a list of affiliated BOM Instructors.

iPhone app – nfpcharting

BOMapp

 

Online Instruction available at www.learnnfponline.com

International Website: www.thebillingsovulationmethod.org

BOMA-USA: www.boma-usa.org

Woomb Canada: www.woomb.ca

Many BOM Instructors are also willing to provide training online, via Skype or email.

Additional Resource

The Billings Method: Using the Body’s Natural Signal of Fertility to Achieve or Avoid Pregnancy by Dr. Evelyn Billings and Ann Westmore

BOMbook

 

This spotlight was written by:

Shawna Van Uden, LPN
Accredited Instructor, Billings Ovulation Method
www.facebook.com/BillingsMethod

 

As a continuation of our Natural Family Planning: How to Get Started Series we will move forward in learning more about the most commonly used, modern, NFP methods.  This week we are pleased to welcome LTS member and the NFP Coordinator for Northwest Family Services, Lauren Fuller, to give us a review of SymptoProTM Fertility Education! Thank you Lauren!

SymptoPro-LS-banner-1

Northwest Family Services has been providing quality Fertility Education for over 30 years. Our program, SymptoPro™ Fertility Education (SFE), is an effective, scientifically based method of natural family planning that treats fertility as a normal, healthy process. SFE is based on the research of Dr. Josef Roetzer.

Observations

SymptoPro™ is a Sympto-Thermal method of NFP based on changes in a woman’s cervical mucus, waking or resting temperature, and cervix (optional).

Mucus: The woman performs a tissue observation before and after every voiding, observing the qualities of any mucus present. Additionally, she is aware of her vaginal sensations throughout the day.

Temperature: The woman takes her temperature upon waking every day.

Cervix: An optional sign, some women find this additional information helpful. A cervical check may be performed at the end of every day, tracking the changes of the cervix itself.

symptopro-symbolsFor an extra 2-5 minutes per day, a couple can discover an accurate picture of the woman’s cycles, which allows them to making family planning decisions about whether to abstain during the possibly fertile time or take advantage of that time to achieve a pregnancy. Additionally, these observations provide crucial health information for those having difficulty achieving.

Charting

At the end of the day, she notes the temperature of the morning. She also notes the most fertile sign both seen (by tissue) and felt (by sensation). Additional traits/comments may be used to help round out the picture of the cycle. The couple then learns through personal instruction how to interpret the changes to find the fertile/infertile times of the cycle.

Special Circumstances

SymptoPro™ Providers are trained to handle a wide range of special circumstances including breastfeeding, premenopause, discontinuing hormonal contraceptives, long cycles, continuous mucus, etc . Clients are encouraged to contact their provider during any change in reproductive status, or any time there is a question. Medical assistance is encouraged when appropriate. Providers themselves may always take advantage of consultation with their supervisor when needed.

Instruction

Effective use of SFE involves learning from a certified SymptoPro Provider. We offer three ways for women and couples to learn NFP. All of the instructional methods listed below connect the client with a personal provider. Chart reviews with your provider continue for at least the first 4-6 cycles, and then as needed. There is never an additional charge for further consultation.

In Person: This method of NFP education is highly recommended. Each class series consists of three, two-hour classes that meet over the course of one month with personalized follow-up. The benefits to this approach include face-to-face instruction, an easily facilitated relationship with your SymptoPro™ Provider, and the opportunity to ask questions both of your provider and of the other couples. These classes do not ask that you share any personal information with the other class participants. We have certified providers in most states and encourage you to contact us for the name of someone nearby or check our online instructors list.

Online: If your schedule does not allow you to attend an in-person NFP classes, or if you do not have a provider near you, we offer an online NFP course. Containing all of the same information and materials as the in-class series, this option allows for greater flexibility of schedule. You will be assigned a personal provider who will be available to answer questions and provide personalized feedback. The timeline for completion is the same as the in person classes, about a month, though you are given 4 months access to the online course.

Mail-in Correspondence: If you are both unable to make the in-person classes and do not have ready accessibility to a computer, you may opt to learn NFP through our correspondence course. Much like the online course, the correspondence course contains all of the necessary components for learning NFP, but all information is sent via mail.

Cost

Each SymptoPro™ Provider or Provider group sets its own instruction fee, usually between $75 – $135.   This one-time fee includes the cost of materials, all support needed within a client’s reproductive lifetime, and a small fee to compensate the instructor for his/her time.   If you are in need of financial assistance please don’t hesitate to discuss this with your provider.

Benefits

    • SFE allows for crosschecking the mucus pattern against the temperature pattern, which allows for very high effectiveness and confidence among our clients. Additionally, if one sign is disturbed or unreliable (e.g., fever, or yeast infection), one can fall back on the other sign(s) to determine fertile status.
    • We provide very objective markers for determining the day’s signs, to allow for ease and accuracy in symptom recording.
    • Couples who are taught well, understand the method, are clear about their family planning intention, and carefully follow all the rules for avoiding a pregnancy all the time will experience a 98 to 99.9 percent effectiveness rate. Couples who occasionally do not follow all the rules for avoiding a pregnancy will most likely experience a pregnancy rate similar to condoms and other barrier methods.
    • Our method stems from Catholic teaching, but is taught in an ecumenical light, allowing couples easy access to quality fertility education, regardless of faith background.

nwfs chart dailyTechnology

SFE offers an online charting program for all clients. It allows:

  • Ease of charting: Either you or your spouse can access your online chart to enter daily observations. This allows ease of charting while travelling, as well as ease of charting on mobile devices, such as a laptop or tablet.
  • Ease of chart sharing with your SymptoPro™ Providers: sending your chart to your provider is as easy as the click of a button! 

nwfs charting

Online Charting Information:

You will be able to place your own interpretation on your charts, but this program will NOT offer automatic interpretation. Each woman and each cycle may have many variations that would benefit from the trained eye of a provider. We hope that this program allows each couple to do that in a more efficient and timely manner. Remember that help from your provider is always FREE of charge, no matter how long it’s been since you’ve taken the course.

If you have taken our online course or are currently enrolled, this program is FREE. If you learned NFP from one of our in-person courses, or if you took the online course prior to September 2009, there is a one-time fee of 12 dollars. This is not a recurring fee – this one-time payment gives you permanent access to online charting.

Additional Resource

Our website: http://www.symptopro.org/

Register here: http://www.nwfs.org/natural-family-planning-registration-form.html

Contact Lauren Fuller for more info lfuller@nwfs.org

 

This spotlight was written by:

Lauren Fuller
Natural Family Planning Coordinator, Northwest Family Services

 

 

As we continue our Natural Family Planning: How to Get Started Series we are excited to welcome LTS member Batrice Adcock. Batrice is a Marquette Method Instructor as well Director of the NFP Program for Catholic Social Services of the Diocese of Charlotte, NC. Thank you Beatrice!

marquette-nfp

monitor boxThe Marquette Model (MM) system of NFP integrates the: ClearBlue Easy Fertility Monitor (CBEFM), an algorithm and other well-known signs of fertility like mucus and temperature. Use of the CBEFM assists the couple to be more precise with identifying ovulation by measuring hormone levels in urine to estimate the beginning and end of fertility in a woman’s menstrual cycle. The information from the monitor in conjunction with charting observations of cervical mucus and basal body temperature provides an excellent way for women to monitor their fertility health. The MM was developed by professional nurses and physicians at Marquette University in the late 1990s. With correct use, this method is as effective as other fertility awareness–based methods of natural family planning.

Observations

In addition to monitoring the traditional signs of cervical mucus, vulvar sensations, and waking temperature, the monitor provides women the ability to assess female hormones for the purposes of trying to achieve or avoid pregnancy. The Marquette Model’s algorithm which helps women identify their fertile window can be used with one, two or all signs of biological indicators. The algorithm and monitor provide couples with objective indicators of fertility that are unique to the Marquette Method.

Charting

A woman may choose to chart any combination of the various signs of fertility integrated into the algorithm. For example, she may choose to chart all three signs, or simply just the monitor data.

ex cycle monitor

At the end of the day, the most fertile sign(s) observed is recorded. If she is in regular cycles and charting online a fertile window will automatically be visible for the couple to know if they are fertile or infertile. They may include descriptive notes in the charting. Personalized instruction is important for achieving high effectiveness and confidence in determining the fertile and infertile times of the cycle.

Special Circumstances

MM Instructors are allied health professionals and are trained to assist clients with varied special circumstances, including breastfeeding, perimenopause, discontinuing hormonal birth control, etc. Medical and spiritual counseling referrals are made when appropriate.

Instruction

There are different ways of learning the MM, including in-person or online in the comfort of your own home. Each involves instruction from a MM trained health professional as well as personalized follow-up.

Cost

Cost varies depending on the learning method and instructor preference. For example, in the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte, NC, the MM is provided free of charge as a one day in-person full course or home course. There are MM teachers in the U.S and Canada. Find local instructors by contacting the Marquette Institute for Natural Family Planning.

STAY TUNED: The Marquette Institute for NFP will be releasing an App and newly designed website within a year. The App will be free for one month and, if it fits the user’s lifestyle will be available for purchase at $4.99. There will be different levels of service and packages available for users and teachers of the Marquette Method.

Benefits

As with other methods of natural family planning, benefits of the MM include high effectiveness, shared responsibility between spouses, enhanced communication, no health risks, and environmental stewardship, among others. The MM provides users with several signs for crosschecking, yet can be simplified so that only one sign is monitored, depending on user preference. The greatest benefit is that users are encouraged to more fully learn and imitate the love of Christ through the practice of NFP—a love that is free, total, faithful, and fruitful!

Technology

The additional sign made available through the self-monitoring of female hormones gives women and couples greater confidence in crosschecking various signs of fertility using the algorithm. Again, the MM can be simplified, and users can choose to monitor only one sign—they have the option of using additional signs if desired. Online charting is available with professional instruction from health professionals trained in the MM. An app for the IPhone and Droid are in development and will soon be available for use. For more information, go to the Marquette Institute for Natural Family Planning website, which is available in English or Spanish:

http://nfp.marquette.edu

 

This spotlight was written by:

Batrice Adcock, MSN, RN
MM instructor and Director of the NFP Program for Catholic Social Services of the Diocese of Charlotte, NC.

Mary Schneider, MSN, FNP-BC, CLC
Assistant Director of the Marquette College of Nursing Institute for NFP, Milwaukee, WI