Association of Fertility Awareness Professionals Response To
“Petition the CDC: Women and medical professionals need accurate information on family planning”
by Fertility Appreciation Collaborative to Teach
the Science (FACTS) and Natural Womanhood
The Association of Fertility Awareness Professionals (AFAP) is grateful to the Fertility Appreciation Collaborative to Teach the Science (FACTS) and Natural Womanhood (NW) for opening this public conversation, which raises important issues regarding the statistical effectiveness of Fertility Awareness Based Methods (FABMs).
AFAP is committed to the establishment of a solid evidence basis for FABMs. We also support clarity around effectiveness statistics. We believe the public has a right to this information, and that our role as a professional organization is to help develop and disseminate this information.
We agree with FACTS and NW that accurate, up-to-date, high quality research and information on FABMs are difficult to access online, and that the information on the CDC website may be confusing in the absence of additional background information. However, we have chosen not to support this petition due to concerns outlined by Dr. Chelsea Polis. In particular, our concerns center on the following issues:
- The petition’s implication that the CDC’s statistical analyses are incorrect. We understand that the 24% typical use failure rate groups together multiple kinds of FABMs, each with different effectiveness rates, and thus appears to be misleading. However, there are valid analytic reasons for this presentation.
- The petition seems to assign blame for low use of FABMs on the effectiveness statistics presented by the CDC. If there is ignorance around the effectiveness and benefits of FABMs, it is our responsibility as educators to help healthcare professionals and the lay public to gain a deeper understanding of these issues (and, if need be, to build a more solid evidence basis).
As Dr. Polis has noted, efforts are underway in multiple spheres to collect and provide better, more detailed descriptions around effectiveness data for FABMs. AFAP members and AFAP as an organization are engaged in some of these efforts, and will continue to support researchers, statisticians, and others who carry out this work. Equally important, we are working on making research and data about FABMs understandable and accessible to the general public, in support of informed decision making around reproductive health and fertility management, which is at the core of our work.
We share the desire of the petition’s authors for users of FABMs, as well as medical professionals, to have “accurate information about effective ways to prevent pregnancy based on the best research available.” To that end, we are taking this opportunity to have conversations with its authors, with the CDC, and with the general public. Science and public health always benefit from daylight, and although we are not directly supporting this particular endeavor, we are grateful to FACTS and to Natural Womanhood for helping to bring this issue out of the shadows.
The Association of Fertility Awareness Professionals Board of Directors
Anna Churchill, FAE
Allison Macbeth, MSc, HRHP
Geraldine Matus, HRHPE, PhD
Ilene Richman, LMSW, FAE