Making love and making babies … there couldn’t be anything more natural! A new development in the family planning field has brought the Church’s wisdom on fertility front and centre.
We’ve been natural fertility users for our entire married life and after our third child was born, Francine trained as a fertility educator and we both took a stint in the leadership of one of Australia’s leading natural fertility education bodies. We’ve been around this stuff for a long time and know from first-hand experience that the benefits of Fertility Awareness Methods (FAMs) extend into the spheres of health, relationship, spirituality and more.
Once called Natural Family Planning, modern technologies are ironically making FAMs more accessible and easier to use. We are thinking particularly of apps and there are simply dozens of them turning up in the app/play store.
Successful use of FAMs requires the couple to keep a record of their fertility symptoms: known signs that predictively tell a couple when they are infertile or possibly fertile. For decades, couples would document their observations on paper charts which allowed them to identify their fertility patterns and align their lovemaking according to their fertility goals. Our bedside drawer is full of these records going back for years. (We think we might just leave them there for our kids to find after we die – we can just imagine the conversations!)
The new fertility apps don’t change the practice of FAMs. They simply make the chore of recording fertility symptoms easier and faster.
The app we use, connects via Bluetooth with a thermometer which means we don’t even have to type in the temperature reading. Simple touch buttons coded in colour removes the need to write or even have a pen nearby, let alone a multicoloured one.
And with another touch, the data collection page transforms to a chart showing the data from the whole cycle with the fertility patterns clearly illustrated for easy interpretation. Swipe right to see last month’s cycle and touch ‘forum’ to access more information and lively online interaction with other users.
And that’s just one of dozens of apps that have been downloaded by tens of millions of users.
The astonishing popularity of these apps gives us great hope. Despite the robustness of the FAMs, for decades, the heavily-funded contraceptive industries have successfully suppressed the accuracy and benefits of FAMs; dropping their usage to around 2%.
Who could have predicted that the advent of smart phone technology would be such a game changer for FAMs?
We sometimes browse the forums to see what people are talking about and what is immediately obvious is that religion or morality is not a priority here. These are every type of couple: Catholic, Christian, Muslim, and ‘nones’. They are regular John-and-Janes who are over the side-effects of hormonal drugs and the invasiveness of devices.
It’s refreshing and exciting to see the once near-exclusive club of Catholic users being gate-crashed by millions of couples who have no idea of the moral teachings of the Church but find it natural to align themselves with the practical expression those teachings. And we say: welcome! We’re glad you’re here.
And if you’re interested in knowing more about some of the amazing theology that underpins FAMs hop on over to our online SmartLoving course, A Total Gift of Self. It’s the easiest and fastest way for a couple to get the low down on how FAMs work, and importantly, why they are such a good idea ethically and spiritually.
FAMs never were the exclusive domain of the Church, even though most of what we know about how they work has come via the labour of dedicated Catholic doctors and researchers. Everyone we’ve ever known in FAM circles always wanted this information and practice to be available to all… it looks like that dream might finally bear fruit (pun intended!).