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Studies in Family Planning. 1984 Nov-Dec; 15(6/1):253-66.This paper critically analyzes claims for the effectiveness of the Billings method of natural family planning and raises questions about the wisdom of actively promoting this method. The Billings method, developed in Australia, is based on client interpretation of changing patterns of cervical mucus secretion. Evaluation of the method's use-effectiveness has been hindered by its supporters' insistence on distinguishing between method and user failures and by the unreliability of data on sexual activities. However, the findings in 5 large studies aimed at investigating the biological basis of the Billings method provide little support for the claims that most fertile women always experience mucus symptoms, that these symptoms precede ovulation by at least 5 days, and that a peak symptom coincides with the day of ovulation. Although many women do experience a changing pattern of mucus symptoms, these changes do not mark the fertile period with sufficient reliability to form the basis for a fully effective method of fertility control. In addition, the results of 5 major field trials indicate that the Billings method has a biological failure rate even higher than the symptothermal method. Pearl pregnancy rates ranged from 22.2-37.2/100 woman-years, and high discontinuation rates in both developed and developing countries were found. Demand for the method was low even in developing countries where calendar rhythm and withdrawal are relatively popular methods of fertility control, suggesting that women of low socioeconomic status may prefer a method that does not require demanding interaction with service providers and acknowledgment of sexual activity. The Billings method is labor-intensive, requiring repeated client contact over an extended time period and high administrative costs, even when teachers are volunteers. It is concluded that although natural family planning methods may make a useful contribution where more effective methods are unavailable or unacceptable, many of the claims made for the Billings method are unsubstantiated by scientific evidence.
In: Zatuchni GI, Goldsmith A, Shelton JD, Sciarra JJ, ed. Long-acting contraceptive delivery systems. Philadelphia, Pa., Harper and Row, 1984. 621-7. (PARFR Series on Fertility Regulation)Progestasert (Alza Corporation, Palo Alto, California) achieves relatively high rates of contraceptive effectiveness through the release of a sex hormone--progesterone. Currently, it is recommended that Progestaserts be replaces every 12 months and most copper-bearing IUDs, every 3 years. To improve on Progestasert's 1-year replacement interval, Alza Corporation modified the Progestasert by increasing the amount of pregesterone contained in the IUD (from 38 to 52 mg) without changing the average daily release of 65mg. This long-acting progestasert, called the Intrauterine Progesterone Contraceptive System (IPCS), was designed to have a useful life of 3 years before replacement was required. The IPCS is identical in appearance to the Progestasert, and its contraceptive action in the same as that of the Progestasert. The effectiveness of either is through the effects of an intrauterine foreign body and through the effects of the progesterone on the encometrium. The IPCS system was designed to provide maximum contraceptive protection over a 3-year period and to reduce IUD-related bleeding, pain, and expulsion problems. Results from Alza monitored trials of the IPCS in the US and Mexico indicate that the cumulative life-table pregnancy rate increased from 3.6/100 women after 25 to 30 months of use to 10.6/100 women after 30 to 36 months of use. Laboratory evaluations of removed IPCS devices indicates that after 30 months of IPCS use the release rate of progesterone may not be adequate to prevent pregnancy effectively. The World Health Organization (WHO) evaluated the IPCS in 2 multiclinic studies. Postinsertion complications and complaints for the IPCS and T Cu-200 are shown. The include cervical perforation, ectopic pregnancy, pelvic inflammatory disease, dysmenorrhea, bleeding, spotting, and pelvic pain. The IPCS seemingly offers no particular advantages for use in developing countries.