Most Doctors Not Adequately Trained In Family Planning Options
July 25, 2006, Washington, DC — Natural, also called fertility awareness-based, methods of family planning may be just what some women are looking for, but most physicians do not learn about them during medical school or residency training, according to Victoria Jennings, PhD, and Helain Landy, MD, of Georgetown University Medical Center. Their paper, appearing in the July issue of Contemporary Obstetrics & Gynecology, addresses this gap in training and its implications.
Physicians play an important role in helping a woman chose an appropriate contraceptive method. “Ideally a physician should be aware of the pros and cons of all available types of family planning so that she or he is able help a patient chose the method that is best for her needs,” said Jennings, who is the director of Georgetown University’s Institute for Reproductive Health. “An important component in helping a patient choose an appropriate contraceptive method is to consider her preferences as well as medical eligibility criteria,” she said.
The existence of new highly reliable, easily taught natural family planning methods developed by Georgetown University’s Institute for Reproductive Health may encourage physicians to present natural family planning options to their patients, says Dr. Jennings.
One of these new methods is the Standard Days Method® which uses CycleBeads®, a string of 32 color-coded beads that helps a woman keep track of her cycle, know which days she can get pregnant (days 8-19 represented by glow-in-the-dark white beads) and monitor the length of her menstrual cycle. Research has shown that the Standard Days Method is 95 percent effective in preventing pregnancy.
Another new method relies on the presence or absence of cervical secretions, but does not require the analysis and charting of secretions required to follow older natural methods. This new method, known as the TwoDay Method®, is 96 percent effective in preventing pregnancy.
All family planning methods have characteristics that may be perceived by some as advantages while others consider them disadvantages. For instance, Dr. Jennings says, the fact that natural family planning requires a woman to pay close attention to her body on a daily basis is attractive to many women, while others find it unacceptable. The authors suggest that physicians be closely attuned to the needs of their patients and that they present a wide range of options to women regarding birth control.
Dr. Jennings is a professor of obstetrics and gynecology. Dr. Landy is a professor and the chair of the department of obstetrics and gynecology, both at Georgetown University Medical Center.
This paper has been selected by the editors of Contemporary OB/Gyn as its Continuing Medical Education accredited paper of the month. Physicians may elect to complete an on-line test on the contents of the paper, which provides detailed information on the two new methods. Upon successful completion of the test they earn continuing medical education credit.
About the Institute for Reproductive Health
The Institute for Reproductive Health is dedicated to helping women and men make informed choices about family planning and providing them with simple and effective natural options. As part of Georgetown University’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the Institute conducts research to develop natural methods of family planning and tests them in service delivery settings.
About Georgetown University Medical Center
Georgetown University Medical Center is an internationally recognized academic medical center with a three-part mission of research, teaching and patient care (through our partnership with MedStar Health). Our mission is carried out with a strong emphasis on public service and a dedication to the Catholic, Jesuit principle of cura personalis -- or “care of the whole person.” The Medical Center includes the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing and Health Studies, both nationally ranked, the world-renowned Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Biomedical Graduate Research Organization (BGRO).
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