Correcting Misinformation

In the course of doing some research on the various methods of NFP, I came across this site from Cornell University's health department. It begins with this little gem:

The first ten words were enough to make my blood boil. Although I figured it was a futile gesture on my part, I hunted up a contact e-mail address and sent a message:

You have some misinformation on this site:

It says, "Natural family planning, (sometimes known as "the rhythm method").... which is false.

The rhythm method (or, more accurately, the Calendar Method) is a form of NFP but by no means the only one, so to imply that "NFP" and "rhythm method" are interchangeable terms is false and misleading, especially given that the Calendar Method is the least effective form (as few women have perfectly consistent 28-day cycles).

Other, more reliable methods of NFP include:

Billings Ovulation Method
Creighton Method
Marquette Method
SymptoThermal Method
Fertility Awareness Method

Please research these accordingly and update your site to correct the misinformation.

Like spitting in the ocean, right? Still, it made me feel a teeny bit better.

Imagine my surprise when I received a reply (emphasis mine):

Hi JoAnna,

Thank you for your message. I have shared it with one of our sexual health clinicians and she agreed that there are, yes, a variety of methods, of which “rhythm” is the most well-known among laypersons. And yes, many of the other methods are more effective. We appreciate your close reading of our website and will be updating it shortly.

In health,

Heather [redacted], MPH
Public Health Communications Specialist
Gannett Health Services

If you heard screams of frustration coming from the general direction of the Phoenix metro area earlier this morning, that was probably me.

My response:

Um, no, rhythm is NOT the most well-known among laypersons, unless you're in a time machine and have traveled back to 1969. What is the sociological basis for that assertion?

No reply as of yet. I'll update this post if there is one. In the meantime, anyone want to drop them a line informing Heather that her "sexual health clinician" needs a little re-education? Let's show them just how well-known NFP is among laypersons!

(And don't get me started on the assumption that all NFP users "are are opposed to, or don't want to use, other contraceptive options" - gah!)


  1. Yup...couldn't really sum it up any better than that picture--triple face palm. I'd argue that today, Creighton or sympto-thermal are the best known.

  2. Planning to do this when I get home. And yes...sounds like some re-education is in order...or reverse indoctrination...whichever you prefer to call it. LOL

  3. Good for you! I'll definitely contact them.

    You said exactly what I was thinking when they replied "most well known among laypersons." Umm like 50 years ago. Get with the program, health professionals.

  4. I think I heard someone shouting this morning. :)

    Wow! Just reading some of the comments from the WaPo article I can see where maybe, just maybe most people don't know that there are other methods. But that's because the vast majority of Americans use some form of contraceptive and don't care to learn about it. And maybe that's what she means? Not that the vast majority of NFP users don't know that there is more out there.

    Now the opposed to or don't want to use line, not sure what to make of that. Smells fishy. Could be better worded to mean do not use contraceptives for religious reasons or health reasons or something along more specific lines. Instead it sounds like the person is simply inept or uninformed about the pill and barrier methods.

    Does anyone else get that vibe?

    1. Did you see this part? "Generally, the chaotic lifestyle of college students make this a most difficult contraceptive choice due to the regularity required."

      Methinks "chaotic" is a nice word for "promiscuous." Give me a break.

    2. Yeah, probably promiscuous and add party-er and heavy drinker. You can take your temp if your too hung-over. :)

      But it's totally making it out that all college students are cut from the same cloth. Seeing as how I used to be one, I didn't have a "chaotic lifestyle." Heck, my school was out in the middle of fields. Go, DSU (that's Delta State University not Delaware)!

    3. sorry that's supposed to be can't

    4. I got married in between my sophomore and junior years of college. :P No chaotic lifestyle here, either (to my freshman roommate's chagrin).

  5. Chaotic can also mean irresponsible. Maybe they can market NFP to science majors as a term paper project. Not that people who are interested in other subjects (like history) are incapable of learnng NFP. Is the Creighton method named after Creighton University?

    Checking health sites of other college health clinics and emailing them is a good project for someone. No, I'm not volunteering.

    1. I actually did a presentation on NFP for my "Scientific and Technical Presentations" class my senior year of college. That was back when I was learning NFP, and I was so enthusiastic I wanted to share my newfound knowledge with all the world. :)

  6. Is the Marquette method named after Marquette University?

    1. Yes!

      I don't think Creighton was named for the university; it was created by Dr. Hilgers.

  7. Triple Face Palm indeed! Oy, vey!!!!

    Rhythm method? Last time I ever heard of anyone using that (and I know hundreds of women who use NFP) it was someone from my grandma's era.

    I mean this in the nicest way, but these ladies at Cornell might be the same Catholics who like felt banners and tambourines in the parish. I had a flashback to my orange shag carpet in my first house as a girl, the one that was rake-able.

    Anyway, at least they were open enough to consider changing and updating their site?

  8. I like tambourines! I did make fun of womyn "priests" shaking their ordination tambourines though. We had rake-able avocado green carpet when I was a little girl. And we had harvest gold kitchen appliances. My mom made plenty of felt banners with the help of a nun. Oh, those 70s sure were something.
    Yes, at least the Cornell people are open to changing their sites and wrote a respectful response. I guess NFP needs more press in the secular world.

  9. I wish blogger had "like" buttons b/c I want to like all of your comments! Great job on putting the smack down. Idiots. (sorry, i'm sleepless and not very charitable today)

  10. Hmm. As a non-Catholic, I suppose I certainly qualify as one of those "laypersons" in this area. . . and yet, though I was not yet aware of ALL the methods listed here, I was certainly aware of more than just the rhythm method. Yeah, gotta agree with the Stooges on this one!

  11. Wow, I plan to e-mail them. As of today, their site still has not be updated.

    But before the site is undated, so much education is needed. They continue to say in their article that NFP "would not be effective method for you and your partner to use if your menstrual cycle is irregular." I practice the Creighton Method and that is one reason why I LOVE this method because it helps women with irregular cycles!


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