Natural Family Planning: Nature's Way - God's Way

41. Research in Natural Family Planning

This paper is taken, in part, from an address made on behalf of WHO at an International Seminar on Natural Methods of Family Planning, DUBLIN, 8 October 1979.

*Task Force on Methods for Determination of the Fertile Period
*Special Programme of Research in Human Reproduction
*WHO. Geneva (Switzerland)

The Special Programme of Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction, World Health Organization, was started eight years ago in response to the increasing demands placed on the health sector to provide family planning care. The directions and priorities of the Programme are determined by the WHO member states in accordance with their own needs and requirements. The Programme addresses itself to research on the safety and effectiveness of current methods of family planning; the improvement of these methods and the development of a variety of new techniques; research on the psychosocial aspects and the delivery of family planning care; research on the diagnosis and treatment of infertility; and to the strengthening of resources for research in this field in the developing countries.

Research on the natural methods of family planning and on the development of new methods for the determination of the fertile period represents one of the priority areas of the Special Programme. In family planning, more than in most areas of therapeutics, the preferences of the individual woman, man and couple play a vital role. Such preferences are determined by a number of factors, including cultural, moral, geographical and medical; whether one wants temporary or permanent protection; the cost, and the availability and ease of obtaining the method desired.

There are basic problems associated with the delivery and use of all methods of fertility regulation. Those unique to NFP include the 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. These problems, especially the requirement of abstinence, are certainly considered as overwhelming by many people and need careful consideration before NFP is suggested or adopted.

Natural Family Planning as it is presently being practiced is a relatively new development that has had only token research support compared with the vast amount of money which has been spent over the last two decades on the development and testing of contraceptives. With the exception of WHO and the USA Department of Health, Education and Welfare, the international and national research councils and agencies supporting research on family planning are devoting very little attention to NFP. The first multicentred, cross-cultural evaluation of the ovulation method was set up by the WHO three years ago, and the results of this study are now becoming available. The only other international study on NFP was the Fairfield project on the sympto-thermal method. Both of these studies have surfaced areas that are in urgent need of further research. There are a number of challenges facing NFP that require research.

I will mention a few of them:

All of these important issues require the interest and commitment of much of much more scientific manpower than is now involved, including disciplines such as gynaecology, reproductive biology, endocrinology, bioengineering, anthropology, psychology, sociology, as well as, of course, educational specialists and experts in Natural Family Planning.

One of the challenges facing NFP advocates during the 1980s is to strengthen the basis of NFP methods through good scientific research and to obtain the financial support required to do so.

by J.M. Spieler, Scientist

J.M. Spieler has been working for the World Health organization since 1972, and engaged in research in Natural Family Planning since 1974. Before joining WHO be was a Research Biologist in a contraceptive development group at Lederle Laboratories, New York, Mr. Spieler has a Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology (University of Florida) and a Masters of Science degree in Reproductive Endocrinology (Rutgers University).

Next Page: 42. Doering's studies on NFP
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58