Natural Family Planning: Nature's Way - God's Way

36. Teaching NFP in Winnipeg

Winnipeg is a city in central Canada with a population of about half a million. In our area, there are a large number of Catholics of French and Irish descent and the largest concentration of Ukranians in Canada. In 1962, when Doctor Adams was finishing his studies in Obstetrics and Gynecology in eastern United States and returning to Winnipeg, there was no centre for the teaching of natural family planning in that city. As a Catholic couple, we felt it was imperative that this teaching be made available. This was before the encyclical Humanae Vitae of Paul VI and just at the time that the contraceptive pill was rapidly becoming the most widely used method of birth regulation around the world.

We sought the support of the Catholic Physicians of Manitoba and began under their sponsorship. Thus originated the Family Planning Centre (natural methods) of Manitoba. At first, we instructed in Calendar Rhythm based on a system established at St. Vincent's Hospital in New York. We taught once a month at the Misericordia General Hospital and the women were invited to mail their dates of menstruation each month. The days of probable infertility were calculated immediately and were sent by return mail. Women with very irregular cycles were encouraged to take their temperatures. Considering the much improved teaching today, the results were amazingly good. Some women, scattered across the country, were still corresponding with us after ten years although we encouraged them to used the more refined, newer methods of natural family planning which we had adopted.

In 1972 we were invited to St. John's University in Minnesota by Father Paul Marx to hear Dr. John Billings describe the ovulation method. We were much impressed and decided to start teaching after we had tested the method to our satisfaction in our own married life. Later that year we taught seven couples in our home. All the women were patients who had irregular periods for whom the temperature method required long periods of abstinence and who were having children in rapid succession. The Ovulation Method was effective for these couples and subsequently several of them became active teachers at our centre. On the basis of this experience, we transformed our centre into a centre for the teaching of the Ovulation Method.

In 1973 we were invited to join Serena Canada, an organization which was founded in 1955 and which is expert in the Sympto-Thermal Method and a leader in the field of research. Serena accepted us as a centre with similar views in natural family planning although our approach was different. Serena hoped to gain insights into the reliability of mucus as an indication of fertility and into the effectiveness of the ovulation method. It did not take long for us in Winnipeg to realize that although the Ovulation Method was very effective for a large number of couples, it was not suitable for about a quarter of those who sought our services. We found that some couples required the more objective evaluation provided to them by the Sympto-Thermal Method.

In 1975, Serena Manitoba became a centre for the teaching of all parameters of natural family planning. Each month, the couples who register are encouraged to attend three sessions. The first session is devoted to the philosophy of N.F.P., to reproductive anatomy and physiology and to the Ovulation Method. The second session is devoted to the Sympto-Thermal Method and to the self-examination of the cervix. At the last session, the couples are seen individually and with our assistance, they choose those parameters of N.F.P. which seem most appropriate for them.

Now we are in charge of teacher training and we have several teacher couples working in Winnipeg and others who teach in different parts of Manitoba. Serena Manitoba is also involved in marriage preparation courses and in the teaching of fertility in some private Catholic high schools. We feel strongly that the strengthening of the institution of marriage and the providing of an understanding of the beauty of married love are of prime importance.

Our biggest problem now is to cope with the demand for our services and the accompanying financial exigencies. Providing good teachers is a problem here as it is everywhere. However, we are very much gratified by the enthusiasm and dedication of our young couples and the knowledge and expertise which they have acquired over the years.

by Paul and Louise Adams, M.D.

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