According to Victoria Jennings, Ph.D. and Helain Landy, M.D. of Georgetown University Medical Center physicians do not study the various methods of family planning while they are in medical school.
They published a paper in the Contemporary Obstetrics & Gynecology journal which pointed out to the gap that existed during the training period 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 Dr. 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.