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Have you ever heard of the Creighton Model of Natural Family Planning? No? While most people who are familiar with NFP (and here’s why you should know about it!) have heard of Fertility Awareness Method, the Creighton Model is a lesser known but still very important system for tracking your cycles.
What is the Creighton Model?
The Creighton Model is probably the most thoroughly studied method of Natural Family Planning. It was developed in the late 1970’s/early 1980’s as a standardized way to track mucus observations. It has been shown to have a 99.5% success rate with perfect use and a 96.8% success rate with typical use when used to avoid pregnancy. (source) The Creighton Model also is the base of NaProTechnology, a branch of women’s health science that provides medical treatments while still preserving a woman’s fertility. It has also been shown to be twice as effective as IVF in helping women conceive. (source)
The Creighton Model is closely connected with the Catholic Church. Anyone can benefit from using the Creighton Model and NaProTechnology to avoid pregnancy, achieve pregnancy, or detect and treat medical conditions without damaging her fertility. I strongly believe that NaProTechnology should be the first line of defense in the case of infertility that cannot be addressed by charting. However, I also recognize that it is important to note that some Catholic philosophy is sprinkled throughout the method and the treatment of infertility.
In my opinion, this is a good thing. It emphasizes the importance of the woman’s health and fertility. This method does everything that it can to heal a woman without pumping her full of artificial hormones or cutting out organs. The Creighton Model also teaches “SPICE” – Spiritual, Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, Creative/Communicative. These are the 6 aspects of intimacy – it’s not just about sex! While learning the Creighton Model, a couple is also taught how to be loving and intimate during times of abstinence. This is a crucial part of success with NFP, so it is wonderful that it is taught as part of the method.
How is this different from FAM?
The Fertility Awareness Method and the Creighton Model are both deeply rooted in science. They have been thoroughly studied and rely on a woman’s fertile signs to determine not only her likelihood of getting pregnant, but also her overall health. The later is particularly emphasized in the Creighton Model.
Beyond the motivations behind the methods (secular vs. spiritual), where these two methods differ is in what and how a woman charts her fertility signs. Unlike FAM, which relies on multiple different markers, the Creighton Model only looks at cervical mucus.
It does this in a very regimented way. This is what I love about this method. When I was first learning FAM, I had no idea what was going on with my mucus. I didn’t know the best way to check for it, I didn’t check the same way every time, and I never knew the quality of it. “Is this sticky? Creamy? It’s not really either!”
With the Creighton Model, you don’t have those questions. They teach you how to check your mucus, from how to retrieve it to how to record it. You notice the presence or absence of lubrication, the amount of stretch, the color, and the consistency. Sounds like a lot? Don’t worry – all you are doing is paying attention when you wipe! At the end of the day, the woman or couple uses a system of numbers and letters to record her most fertile mucus. This recording is accompanied with a sticker that indicates her fertility for that day. It is systematic and visual at the same time, so both my husband and I can easily determine my fertility at a glance.
You will notice I haven’t mentioned temperatures. The Creighton Model does not rely on basal body temperature. For some women, this is a good thing. If you are breastfeeding, do shift work, have an interrupted sleep cycle, or for whatever other reason do not have reliable temperatures, the Creighton Model will allow you to reliably keep an eye on your fertility. However, some women, such as myself, prefer to have the added security of a clear temp rise. These women should stay tuned for next week.
How can I learn more?
It all looks complicated at first. Really, this is true of any form of charting, and the Creighton Model can especially seem this way at the beginning. But you’d be surprised by how quickly you pick it up. It also helps to have a teacher. Because the Creighton Model is a finely honed system with a variety of aspects to it, there is no good source for self-instruction. Luckily, the classes are quite affordable relative to many other family planning methods and may be covered by your insurance. If not, there is financial assistance available.
You can learn more about the Creighton Model here, and find a teacher here. I found that working with someone trained in the method was incredibly helpful. It really built my confidence about using this method for avoiding pregnancy.
Have you heard of the Creighton Model before? What do you think?
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