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Advocates urge more awareness about natural family planning options


  • Dr. Anne Nolte, right, a family physician with the National Gianna Center for Women's Health and Fertility in New York, is pictured with a patient in 2009. Among other services, the center offers women various fertility-awareness methods for natural family planning. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)
  • Natural Cycles' contraception device and smartphone app are seen in this photo. (CNS photo/ Natural Cycles)

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WASHINGTON (CNS) -- There are plenty of myths that surround natural family planning, but advocates say the Catholic Church can help dispel those myths and raise an awareness of which fertility-awareness options exist for married couples that embrace church teaching.

"It amazes me how many people are not aware of the multitude of fertility awareness-based methods out there," said Dr. Marguerite Duane, adjunct professor at Georgetown University and executive director of Fertility Appreciation Collaborative to Teach the Science.

Despite the variety of natural family planning methods -- the Billings Ovulation Method, Creighton Model, Two Day Method, Marquette Model, Sympto-Thermal, Standard Days Method, among others -- and the science involved in their medical application, certain myths continue to circulate regarding the effectiveness and benefits of natural family planning.

The first myth, said Duane, "is that there is 'only one NFP method,'" i.e., the "rhythm method."

The "rhythm method," popularized in Dr. Leo J. Latz's 1932 book "The Rhythm of Sterility and Fertility in Women," uses none of the biological indicators and symptoms, such as cervical mucus observations and basal body temperature, that modern natural family planning methods -- also called fertility awareness-based methods -- use today.

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