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IPPF Medical Bulletin. 1982 Dec; 16(6):2-3.IPPF does not advise that periodic abstinence be considered an equal alternative to more effective family planning methods because of findings from recent, carefully conducted trials that show unusually high failure and discontinuation rates compared with other methods. Periodic abstinence for family planning depends upon identifying the fertile phase of the menstrual cycle which occurs around the time of ovulation and avoiding sexual intercourse during that time. Abstinence is sometimes necessary during a large part of the cycle because of the difficulty of accurately predicting the fertile phase. In recent major studies, almost 20% of women using the sympto-thermal method became pregnant within a year, as did about 25% of those using the cervical mucus method, compared with less than 5% of those using oral contraceptives or IUDs. The sympto-thermal method appears more effective than the cervical mucus method, but both show wide ranges of pregnancy and discontinuation rates among different groups of women. Nevertheless, family planning associations should familiarize themselves with the periodic abstinence techniques for couples for whom periodic abstinence techniques for couples for whom periodic abstinence is the only choice. Such couples should be clearly informed that the method is not considered an effective method of family planning. Periodic abstinence is better than no method, however, and various other benefits can be obtained, such as knowledge of female physiology. Couples may identify the fertile phase to use barrier methods only on days estimated to be fertile, and it may lead to use of more effective contraception. Methods of detecting ovulation are also useful in diagnosis and treatment of infertility.
International Review of Natural Family Planning. 1982 Fall; 6(3):290-8.This article summarizes the experiences of the author, a priest, in teaching natural family planning, (NFP), for the past 7 years in the rural areas of Central America, the Caribbean, Ghana, and Mexico, including his participation in a multicentered WHO study. He 1st points out that it is important to use information that people already know. The article contains a sample illustration which relates the fertile period of growth that accompanies rain in the natural environment to the period of ovulation. The WHO study included 900 women from India, the Philippines, Ireland and New Zealand, in addition to the author's parish in El Salvador. Illiterate women in El Salvador learned to identify the fertile times in their cycles with the same facility as the women of New Zealand, who had an average of 12 years of education. The study also found that the method had a theoretical effectiveness of 98.2%, although the participants in rural El Salvador got pregnant at a rater higher than anywhere else. This was not due to a failure of the method, but instead could be attributed to user related pregnancies. That is, the women that got pregnant didn't follow the rules of the method. He states that people in rural areas learn the natural method of birth control easily because it costs nothing and because of their reverence for nature, it seems natural. In addition to the child spacing advantage, the beneficial effects of natural methods include the discipline of periodic abstinence and the education of children about the beauty and dignity of sex. The author stresses the need to educate rural people that artificial methods of birth control, especially sterilization, have harmful and evil side effects.