Couples and individuals have the right to decide when they want to have children - if at all. Today, we have a range of contraceptive options. However, with all the options available to us, globally there are still an estimated 222 million women who have an unmet need for family planning. And although significant strides have been made to fill these gaps, having FULL CHOICE and FULL ACCESS to contraceptives is paramount if we are to achieve FP2020 goals or the Sustainable Development Goals or any other goal for that matter.
Adding effective, science-based fertility awareness methods to the contraceptive method mix brings new users to family planning and addresses unmet family planning needs. In fact fertility awareness methods can address many of the reasons that women cite for not using contraception even when they don’t want to get pregnant.
But there are those who question whether fertility awareness methods are actually “modern methods”. After all, people have been claiming to use these types of methods for centuries.
WHAT MAKES FAMS ‘‘MODERN’’?
In a powerful peer-reviewed commentary, the Office of Population and Reproductive Health of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) laid out their technical position for classifying fertility awareness methods as modern contraceptives. As described in the position, USAID supports FAMs as modern contraceptives because these methods meet the criteria for a modern contraceptive because they:
1. Are effective at pregnancy prevention,
2. Are safe,
3. Are based on a sound understanding of reproductive biology,
4. Include a defined protocol for correct use, and
5. Have been tested in appropriately designed studies to assess effectiveness under various conditions.
One last note that the authors point out that we consider a bonus is that fertility awareness methods do not require any clinical intervention.