BACKGROUND. In the United States, approximately 4% of women of reproductive age
use natural family planning (NFP) to avoid pregnancy. It is unclear whether
this low number is related to a lack of available information,
women's lack of interest, or other factors. Our study examined women's interest
in using NFP either to become pregnant or to avoid it.
METHODS. A questionnaire was mailed to 1500 women, aged 18 to 50, who were
randomly selected from driver's license renewal records in Missouri for the
year beginning July 1991 and ending June 1992.
RESULTS. Of the 747 returned questionnaires, 484 were from women who were still
potentially fertile. Of these women, 22.5% indicated that they would be likely
or very likely to use NFP in the future to avoid pregnancy, and
37.4% indicated that they would be likely or very likely to use NFP in the
future to become pregnant. Only 2.8%
were currently using a method of NFP. Past use of any method of NFP (including
the outdated calendar rhythm method) to avoid pregnancy was associated with
interest in future use of modern methods of NFP to avoid
pregnancy. Past use of NFP to become pregnant and the possible desire for
future pregnancy were associated with interest in future use of NFP to conceive.
CONCLUSIONS. Many women who are not currently using NFP indicated that they are
interested in doing so in the future, either to avoid pregnancy or to conceive.
Interest in future use of NFP is associated with, but not limited to, those who
have previously used NFP.
KEY WORDS. Natural family planning [non-MeSH]; rhythm method; family planning;
physician, family. (J Fam Pract 1998; 46:65-71)
In the United States, approximately 4% of all
sexually active women of reproductive age
use a form of natural family planning (NFP)
to prevent pregnancy. Natural family
planning, as defined by the World Health
Organization, consists of "methods for planning
and preventing pregnancies by observation of the
naturally occurring signs and symptoms of the
fertile and infertile phases of the menstrual cycle,
with the avoidance of intercourse during the fertile
phase if pregnancy is to be avoided." Modern
methods of NFP include the ovulation method
(also known as the Billings method), based on the
observation of vaginal discharge of cervical
mucus, and the symptothermal method, based on
the observation of both vaginal mucus discharge
and of basal body temperature.
Most of the women m the United States who are
practicing NFP are using the outdated calendar
rhythm method. The available information about the
characteristics of women using NFP to avoid
pregnancy suggests a variety of motivations, including
religious or moral reasons, medical reasons, and the
desire to use a family planning method that does not
have side effects and does not interfere with the
natural processes of the body.[5,6] The motivations of
women who use NFP to try to conceive are less clear.
Total pregnancy rates from NFP studies
(excluding calendar rhythm studies) range from
2% to 40%.[2,7-12] Method-related pregnancy rates for
perfect use (also known...
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