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CDC acknowledges Fertility Awareness-Based Methods to be more reliable than previously reported

Gpointstudio | Shutterstock

The change is a significant step in the right direction.

Until recently, pamphlets and posters in doctors’ offices across the country informed patients that Fertility Awareness-Based Methods (FABMs) were hardly even worth trying. They cited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) estimation of those methods’ efficacy when it came to preventing pregnancy: a discouraging 24% failure rate. But the CDC is no longer using that statistic. Now it reports that FABMs have a failure rate of 2% to 23%. Which means the CDC now acknowledges that some can be extremely effective.

This important change is a recognition of the fact that there are many different kinds of FABMs now that are based on cutting-edge science, have been researched extensively, and are proven to be a reliable way for women and couples to understand and cooperate with their fertility.

One of the unique aspects of FABMs is that they are not a form of contraception, strictly speaking — they are a tool for gaining knowledge. Of the CDC’s suggestions of 15 different  ways to avoid pregnancy, FABMs stand out as the only method that relies simply on understanding the fertility of both partners, rather than changing anything about the way the couple’s fertility functions. But avoiding or postponing pregnancy is only one way of using FABMs — they are also important tools for achieving pregnancy and understanding reproductive health.

“Learning to track her cycle empowers women to understand and manage their health and fertility,” said Anna Halpine, CEO of FEMM. “Every woman should know whether she is ovulating or not, and whether her cycle is healthy or not. This enables her to make informed choices about every aspect of her health and body. Women who have healthy ovulatory cycles can learn to manage their fertility very well and very effectively with a variety of good and important FABM methods. It is important that the CDC now recognizes the science that has been validated regarding the efficacy of these methods for many decades. Teaching a woman to understand her cycle also allows her to identify health and fertility abnormalities that can be corrected, which gives her an important tool to seek support and healthcare as needed.”

Gerard Migeon, founder and CEO of Natural Womanhood, praised the CDC’s decision to update its information and posted a sample letter for people to send to their doctors and local media outlets in order to make sure this change is widely noticed.

Migeon believes the CDC needs to go further, however, since it still hasn’t made any distinctions between FABMs when it comes to differing effectiveness rates, and its narrative about the methods can be misleading. Natural Womanhood plans to write to the CDC in the coming weeks about this, but the updated information is certainly a step in the right direction.

Read more: How NFP has totally changed the way I see myself

Read more: How NFP reminds me that pregnancy is a not a solo endeavor

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