How It Went When I Discussed FABMs With My Doctor
Practically every time a girl or woman walks into a gynecologist’s office (at least before menopause), she’ll be offered pharmaceutical birth control.
Starting when I was only fourteen, my doctors repeatedly tried to get me on the Pill—even though I came in for something else, said no, and wasn’t even sexually active. Several doctors told me my periods were “irregular” (very slightly), but they could fix that by putting me on the Pill. They never mentioned any side effects. Nowadays, even my daughter’s dermatologist offers it to her for its anti-acne benefits.
Once I was married, I continued to have to contend with unwanted offers, assumptions, misinformation about natural methods, and patronizing disbelief at my using and defending them. Even midwives (even at birth centers!)—who, you’d think would be into and informed about natural methods—often asked me, “Okay, which birth control will you be using after delivery? We have several options for you…” Despite my telling them that my husband and I were quite satisfied with Fertility Awareness-Based Methods (FABM), they tended at least to look doubtful if not to start spouting misinformation.
We have used natural methods of family planning throughout our marriage, and they’ve worked very well for us. Modern eyes looking at our family might doubt that, since we do have six children. But that’s how many we wanted. Also consider that we’ve been married for 28 years. We have six children, not 28 children. Furthermore, they’re all spaced at least two years apart; in fact, two sequential siblings are four years apart, and another two are seven years apart. This spacing was not by accident.
Finally Getting Medical Attention
I heard about “Pill-pushers” when I was young, but nobody ever told me they might be doctors. Seems clear to me that social engineering has become intertwined with women’s medicine.
Well, I’m glad to report that there is now hope that this trend of widespread misinformation and suspicion of FABMs among medical professionals can be turned around.
I attended the #MeToo Moment Conference in Washington, D.C. last May, and I was glad to hear this issue addressed by one of three panelists speaking on “Women’s Health: Evidence and Concerns.” In Dr. Marguerite Duane’s presentation, she noted that fewer than 10% of OB-Gyns and family doctors know anything about FABMs. She said—quite in line with my own experience—that most in the medical profession who have ever heard of them associate natural family planning methods with the Rhythm method developed in the 1930s. She compared that to equating the earliest telephone with the latest smartphone. And so she co-founded the organization FACTS (Fertility Appreciation Collaborative to Teach the Science) in order “to get into the medical schools, to teach them there is another way.”
I was so excited about her organization that I went over to talk with her afterward and told her I’d be seeing my gynecologist soon and asked if she had any literature I could give him. She happily supplied me with several high-quality, professional, and persuasive brochures.
I was now prepared with the right materials. But how would my doctor receive them?
Thankfully, these days I have an OB-Gyn who is friendly and respectful. We’d talked about natural family planning before: he delivered my youngest, and afterward we had the usual birth control conversation. He was a little more open than most. He listened to my brief explanation but didn’t really want to hear more. So I was glad to have more-detailed information—and from a more credible source than just myself—to give him.
At my next visit, I handed him the brochure, introducing him to the science of Fertility Awareness-Based Methods. The exchange went even better than I’d dared to hope. I knew he would be polite and would probably take the information. But to my surprise, he was genuinely interested and glad to have it. Turns out he was interested in having more options to offer his patients for achieving pregnancy, but that’s okay. First, FABMs do help with that very important issue. Second, it just goes to show that changing the focal term from “Natural Family Planning” to “Fertility Awareness-Based Methods” was a good move. Finally, he was still eager to look over all the literature, even when I pointed out that FABMs could also be used to avoid pregnancy.
My experience furthered my belief that each of us can be ambassadors of FABMs by informing our own doctors about them. You can download and hand your doctor the great brochure that Natural Womanhood produced in collaboration with FACTS. You can direct him or her to the FACTS website, where there’s a wealth of studies and information aimed specifically at those in the medical profession, and Natural Womanhood, where doctors can suggest materials for their patients.
If everyone who uses FABMs were to share this information with their doctors, we could change the lives of countless women—and ultimately men and children, too—for the better.