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In: Zimmerman A, ed. Natural family planning: nature's way--God's way. Milwaukee, Wisconsin, De Rance, 1980. 121-3.Research on the natural methods of family planning and on the development of new methods for the determination of the fertile period are priority areas of the Special Program of Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction of the World Health Organization (WHO). Problems unique to the delivery and use of the natural family planning methods include the accurate identification of the fertile days of the menstrual cycle, the number of days of abstinence required, the implementation of abstinence if pregnancy is not desired, and the need for daily continued motivation and cooperation of both partners. These problems, particularly the need for abstinence, are regarded as overwhelming by many people and need careful consideration before natural family planning is suggested or adopted. As it is now being practiced, natural family planning is a relatively new development that has had only token research support compared with the money which has been spent over the last 20 years on the development and testing of contraceptives. Except for WHO and the United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare, the international and national research councils and agencies are giving little research attention to natural family planning. The 1st multicentered and cross cultural evaluation of the ovulation method was established by WHO 3 years ago. Among the challenges facing natural family planning that require research are the following: the development of uniform data collection tools; the identification of the psychosocial and psychosexual factors affecting the demand, choice and use of natural family planning; and the definition of the conditions under which natural family planning can be applied. A challenge facing advocates of natural family planning in the 1980s is to strengthen the basis of natural family planning methods through good scientific research and to obtain the financial support needed to do so.