A one-day meeting of physicians, professional nurses, and scientists actively involved in Natural Family Planning (NFP) research was held to review the state of the science of NFP and consider future priorities. The meeting had four objectives: (i) determine the gaps in research evidence for secure methods of NFP among women of all reproductive categories, (ii) determine the gaps in the research and development of new technology for providing NFP services, (iii) determine the gaps in the research that determine the benefits and challenges with use of NFP among married couples, and (iv) provide prioritized ideas for future research needs from the analysis of evidence gaps from objectives above. This article summarizes the discussion and conclusions drawn from topics reviewed. While much has been accomplished in the fifty years since Humane vitae, there are still many gaps to address. Five areas for future research in NFP were identified as high priority: (1) well-designed method effectiveness studies among various reproductive categories including important subpopulations (postpartum, perimenopause, posthormonal contraceptive), normally cycling women (especially US women), and comparative studies between NFP methods; (2) validation studies to establish the benefit of charting fertility signs (both currently known and potential new indicators) as a screening tool for women’s health issues; (3) ongoing independent evaluation of fertility monitoring apps to provide users perspective on the relative merits of each and to identify those most worthy of further effectiveness testing; (4) studies evaluating the impact of new technologies on NFP adoption, use, and persistence; and (5) creation of a shared database across various NFP methods to collaborate on shared research interests, longitudinal studies, and so on.
This summarizes a meeting to review the scientific and medical progress related to natural family planning made in the 50 years since Humane Vitae and to define priorities for future work. Areas reviewed included the evidence for avoiding pregnancy in normally cycling, postpartum, and perimenopausal women, the impact of new technology, including fertility charting apps, on NFP, and the impact on relationships and personal well-being from use of NFP. Five priority focus areas for future research were also identified.
Manhart, Michael D. and Fehring, Richard, "The State of the Science of Natural Family Planning Fifty Years after Humane Vitae: A Report from NFP Scientists’ Meeting Held at the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, April 4, 2018" (2018). College of Nursing Faculty Research and Publications. 593.
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