NFP challenged. A Response.
Deal Hudson, July 14, 2003
A study at the University of Saskatchewan recently announced that a new understanding of a woman's menstrual cycle will change the way we look at fertility and finally lay to rest those arguments in favor of NFP.
Originally, it was thought that egg sacs (or follicles) would grow at one particular time in a woman's menstrual cycle. From those sacs, one egg would be released and the rest would die, resulting in a specific time every month when a woman would be fertile.
This new study, however, shows that the follicles actually grow in waves, rather than all at once. According to the researchers, this means that eggs could be released at different times throughout a woman's cycle, making the old idea of one window of fertility per cycle outdated.
Researchers say this proves that NFP isn't effective. Senior author Dr. Roger Pierson joked, "We all know people trying to use natural family planning, and we have a word for those people. We call them parents."
But the studies' findings might not be so clear cut as that. Dr. James B. Brown, commenting for the Billings Ovulation Method Organization (WOOMB), says that scientists have known about this "wave" pattern of follicle growth for years. Citing its importance in helping women determine their periods of fertility, Dr. Brown verified the findings from the University of Saskatchewan.
However, Brown explains that it does NOT mean that fertile ovulations can occur more than once during the menstrual cycle. From WOOMB's own research of millions of women using NFP methods, the vast majority ovulate only once per cycle.
Even the University of Saskatchewan's own research should have told them something similar. Out of the 50 women they examined, all but two ovulated only once during their cycle. The two who ovulated more than once actually had abnormal (infertile) cycles during which conception couldn't occur.
So out of research showing that 96% of women ovulate only once per month, and the 4% who ovulate more than once have infertile cycles, the University of Saskatchewan concluded that multiple ovulations spelled the end for predicting fertility and, consequently, NFP.