Last week I received this request from a women’s health center in Newfoundland, Canada:
”I was reading your site and was wondering if you have a listing of any doctors in Newfoundland, Canada, who are on the same page with you for natural family planning that could be referred to?”
Unfortunately, I couldn’t help them out, because there are still too few places where such services are provided. The closest Canadian natural family planning / fertility awareness friendly doctor I could find ends up being in Toronto, a mere 1,875 miles away.
So what do you do when a patient, a relative or a friend suffers from severe PMS, irregular bleeding or cramps and is looking for an alternative to the pill? Where do you go as a couple to get help because you just experienced your second or third miscarriage and you’re tired of hearing “just keep trying”? Where do you get help if the fertility meds are not working and after of 12 or 18 months your doctor is suggesting the grueling process of IVF?
It is especially frustrating when you know that revolutionary medical treatments are available that address the root causes of these issues effectively. Treatments that seek first to understand the women’s unique challenges by reading her charts. Therapies that are customized to the patient’s body.
Here is the good news: there is a lot going on in the medical community to increase the number of medical professionals who understand a woman’s cycle, fertility awareness methods, and treatment options other than contraceptives. So what is out there? Here is what I found:
- FertilityCare™ Centers of America is the largest network of such providers. They have been trained in the Creighton FertilityCare methods and NaproTECHNOLOGY, a body of scientific research and treatments protocols developed by Dr. Thomas Hilgers, a pioneer in this field. They also offer a comprehensive medical training.
- FEMM is a more recent initiative with the goal of training professionals and creating centers. Their program includes medical management and protocols to treat reproductive health disorders, and they are teaching other doctors to use these protocols. They just trained 21 medical professionals from all over North America in May and have another class coming up in November.
- The Guiding Star Project is another initiative of holistic medicine founded on the respect of a woman’s cycle. They have three clinics, two in Minnesota and one in Florida.
- If you don’t find any provider close by in the above mentioned networks, the website One More Soul offers an extensive directory of providers, including family doctors, urologists, pediatricians and other specialties who support natural family planning. With over 500 listings in Canada and the USA, that’s the largest list of natural family planning friendly doctors I know of. Note that not all of them are qualified to treat the disorders I mention above. However, the site also includes a list of 90 Ob/Gyns who are likely to be qualified to help with such problems.
- CycleBeads, the organization that promotes the Standard Day method, has a directory of providers on their site, although a quick look at their list tells me that few of the organizations are actually providing specialized treatment of the kind we described above. A few of them do, though, and it may be worth checking what they have.
- Finally I would also consult with your local teachers of natural family planning who are likely to be connected with a provider.
Outside these networks, I would like to mention individual providers who have been very active in promoting these alternatives such as Dr Laurie Heap who provides downloadable guidebooks and personal consulting, Dr. Kelly Brogan, who promotes holistic women’s health psychiatry (based in New York City) and is a prolific blogger, and Dr. Nora Pope, a Toronto-based naturopath who also writes and speaks on alternatives to contraceptives.
Finally, I am very grateful to the medical professionals who have joined the Doctors for Natural Womanhood, expressing their support of the promotion of natural alternatives to contraception through our organization. We welcome other members!
Here are a couple of other ways to stay in touch with the industry:
The International Institute for Restorative Reproductive Medicine, an association which unites medical professionals “who share a common belief that patients deserve scientifically-based and well researched reproductive health care services that cooperate with and restore reproductive function.” Their mission is to provide support to providers through research, education, mentorship and collaboration. They are actually holding their annual conference this month.
FACTS: The Fertility Appreciation Collaborative is comprised of physicians, other health care professionals and educators working together to Teach the Science of fertility awareness based methods (FABMs) of family planning. We are really counting on them for inspiring more medical students to learn and offer treatments based on fertility awareness and for being a voice among medical institutions. We encourage you to join their efforts by becoming a member!
This list of initiative is certainly not exhaustive, but a quick update of what I know. In fact, consider this an appeal to the natural family planning / fertility awareness world to share with us in the comment below the names of other organizations that can help!
Have you read our Medical Update about Fertility Awareness Based Methods? You can download it for free here.