Why is the CDC reporting inaccurate data about FABM effectiveness rates? The CDC report is based on a study with a low-quality research methodology, v which explains why its conclusions are so far from what quality studies show us. Here are the key problems with the study quoted by the CDC:
First bias: The effectiveness rates are based on retrospective surveys. Specifically, in 1995 and 2002, the research team surveyed about 18,000 women and asked them to recall the method of birth control they were using when they got pregnant.vi, vii Recall is a weak measure. The respondents could have used a mix of methods. Any description that sounded like a fertility awareness method was put in the “periodic abstinence” group.
Second bias: The authors put much older, low-tech methods, including the calendar rhythm method, in the same basket as modern, standardized, and proven Fertility Awareness Based Methods such as the Sympto-Thermal and Ovulation methods. In fact, 86% of those whom the study identified as FABM users stated they used the calendar rhythm method—a much older and less effective method developed in the 1930s—as their primary form of contraception. But lumping together old and new natural methods masks important differences in their effectiveness, a fact acknowledged by the author of the study.v It would be akin to putting all progesterone methods like the Mirena IUD and the mini-pill in the same category and then classifying them as having one lower effectiveness rate.
So what is the truth about effectiveness rates of FABMs that the CDC needs to report? Here is the evidence-based data of 4 different types of the most popular methods based on an article published in May 2013 by the Osteopathic Family Physician Journalii and a more recent study of the Marquette methodviii.
- Sympto-thermal Method: pregnancy rate with perfect use 0.4%, with typical use 1.6%
- Marquette Method: pregnancy rate with perfect use 0%, with typical use 6.8%
- Billings Ovulation Method®: pregnancy rate with perfect use 1.1%, with typical use 10.5%
- Standard Days Method: pregnancy rate with perfect use 4.8%, with typical use 11.9%
As you see, these unintended pregnancy rates are far from the 24% rate put forth by the CDC. Therefore, we need the CDC to report these up-to-date effectiveness rates!
Additionally, we need to make sure the CDC updates their information so health care professionals will be properly informed, as only 3 to 6% of physicians ix know the true effectiveness of these safe, side-effect free methods of family planning. This may be why few are telling women about these methods.
But working together, YOU and I can change this and make sure all women receive accurate, up to date information. That is why we are asking you to sign the enclosed petition, and forward it to all of your friends and contacts.
In fact, on April 21, 2016, the prestigious American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), which represents over 120,000 members, wrote an official request to the Department of Health and Human Services asking that the effectiveness rating be changed. They wrote:
“Family physicians need accurate data to share with patients who are making family planning decisions. The AAFP would therefore like to request that the CDC update the effectiveness rates quoted for these methods in the ‘Effectiveness of Family Planning Methods’ resource.”
To date, one year later, there has been no public response. No apparent action taken to consider the evidence offered by the AAFP.
Women who have experienced side effects from hormonal or other types of birth control need to know there are other viable options, such as Fertility Awareness Based Methods. Indeed the World Health Organization recognizes FABMs as the only methods of family planning with no medical side effects x; whereas hormonal birth control may have a myriad of side effects, ranging from mild symptoms, such as nausea, bleeding or breast tenderness, to more severe ones such as an increase risk of blood clots, certain types of cancer or stroke. In fact, research shows almost two thirds of women who stopped using hormonal birth control did so because of adverse side effects.xi
We are not advocating that access to any form of birth control be limited. We are simply advocating that accurate information about Fertility Awareness Based Methods be provided to the public.
This is why your signature is urgently needed. If we don’t take action, nothing will change.
Together, we need to speak up and ask the CDC to update their report. It is important for women, for couples, and for the medical professionals who advise them. Without correct information, health professionals may not routinely present these options to women and thus, women cannot make truly informed choices with regards to family planning.
It is important to note there are many benefits for women and couples who use FABMs:
- These methods cost much less than birth control.
- Multiple studies show that couples who use FABMs report it improves their relationships.xii,xiii
- Young women who learn to use FABMs are empowered and gain self-confidence and self-control.xiv
- Couples interested in getting pregnant will increase their chances to do so by better understanding when they may be fertile.xv
If the CDC updates the report of FABM effectiveness rates, it will be a huge game-changer for women’s health. Doctors may be more likely to discuss these methods with their patients. More women will learn about these methods and benefit from a highly effective, self-managed method, with no-side effects at all. Not only that, but they will better understand their bodies and learn a life-long skill.
We need this change for the sake of women’s health. But without your voice, the CDC may not act. Please support and sign this petition now. Act today and make your voice heard to ensure every physician and every woman has access to accurate, up to date information. Act today to ask the CDC to report the correct effectiveness rates of FABMs.
We intend to use your signature and others to make sure a united voice is heard in the press and at the US Department of Health and Human Services. To have the greatest impact we need to gather 100,000 signatures so PLEASE SIGN it, and then share it with friends and family!
With your support, we will make sure the voices of thousands of Americans are heard.
Thank you very much for your helping us make a difference! Our website is highly secured and your contact information will remain strictly confidential. We have an iron-clad anti-spam policy. We need as many signatures as possible to urgently move this important matter forward.
Thank you again for your help,