I'm recently back from a few humid days in DC, where I gave a presentation at the 55th American College of Nurse Midwives Annual Meeting. It was a very impressive gathering. About 1500 were expected to attend. There were 5 days packed with talks, workshops, exhibitions, lobbying, parties, etc. I was pleased to see that there was a special focus on international midwifery, and the role that midwives can play in improving maternal health in the developing world.
On Tuesday, 6/15, I gave a one hour educational presentation entitled "Introduction to Fertility Awareness: How a Proven Method of Natural Fertility Management Works and How it Can Benefit Your Patients." I didn't think many people would attend, because my session took place during Lobby Day, when the midwives took to Capitol Hill to meet with legislators about issues relating to the practice of midwifery both here and abroad. However, I was pleasantly surprised as the room became completely full, with about 100 people in attendance. This was the largest audience I've ever addressed, and my nervousness was increased by the fact that they were all midwives, and that I might not be telling them anything they didn't already know. But what I found was that, although almost all of them had some familiarity with Fertility Awareness, only one of them was actually teaching it, and most were only really familiar with FA for pregnancy achievement. They were very interested in the presentation and had a lot of practical questions at the end.
There was only one other presentation related to natural fertility management, and it was on The Creighton Method a.k.a. NaProTechnology, which is a type of Natural Family Planning (NFP). As you probably know, NFP has religious underpinnings. The presenters completely de-emphasized this, and spoke mostly in medical terms. It was there if you were looking for it, but I have a feeling that most in the audience really didn't understand the distinction (unless they had been at my talk the day before). Their stats on resolution of fertility issues were compelling, but they spoke only in positive terms and did not mention a single drawback to their methodology, or a reason why a woman or a couple might not want to use it. It seemed more like a sales pitch than a medical presentation. In my presentation I spoke specifically of the pros and cons that a woman contemplating Fertility Awareness should consider. No method is right for everyone, and good reproductive health care always seeks to expand the range of choices available to women, not dictate to them what they should or should not be doing.