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Research on natural family planning: the WHO Task Force on Methods for the Determination of the Fertile Period.
In: Ireland. Dept. of Health, World Health Organization [WHO]. International Seminar on Natural Methods of Family Planning, Dun Laoghaire, County Dublin, Ireland, October 8-9, 1979. [Dublin, Ireland, Dept. of Health, 1979]. 146-53.The WHO (World Health Organization) Task Force on Methods for the Determination of the Fertile Period addresses itself to the following topics: 1) the effectiveness of natural family planning (NFP) methods; 2) ways of improving NFP technology and developing new methods for predicting and detecting ovulation and the fertile period; 3) improving the delivery of NFP, particularly by nonphysicians, and 4) the psychosocial and psychosexual aspects of NFP. The WHO Programme is interested in NFP research for the following reasons: 1) political (to pacify such vocal groups as the Vatican, pro-life organizations, ecology-minded people); 2) to obtain objective information on NFP's effectiveness, continuation of use, advantages and disadvantages and limitations since these methods are being promoted and used; 3) the need and a place for non-chemical, non-device, non-invasive and reversible methods within the technology for fertility regulation; and 4) no other intergovernmental or international organization is undertaking research on NFP in developing countries. The research officially began to function in 1974, and the research scope included the prediction, as well as the detection of ovulation, and the determination of the start and end of the fertile period. The problems associated with NFP include accurate identification of the fertile days of the menstrual cycle, the number of days of abstinence required, and the implementation of abstinence if pregnancy is not desired, and the need for daily continued motivation and cooperation of both partners. Studies by the Task Force included those which obtained data on the percentage and characteristics of couples who can and cannot successfully learn and use the methods; reasons for discontinuation; difficulties experienced in recordkeeping; motivation for using NFP and others. Some of the studies show that the effectiveness of the method is affected almost exclusively by the motivation of the couple. The Task Force also aims to develop inexpensive and easy-to-use technology suitable for home use, primarily in developing countries. Further research is being done on 1) factors that affect demand, choice and use of NFP methods; and 2) the psychosociological integrative and disintegrative effects of fertility control methods including their impact on conjugal stability and the psychological significance of the act of coitus in different peoples and cultures.