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
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.