The Creighton Model FertilityCare™ System
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) says about Natural Family Planning, “The Catholic Church supports the methods of Natural Family Planning (NFP) because they respect God’s design for married love. In fact, NFP represents the only authentic approach to family planning available to husbands and wives because these methods can be used to both attempt or avoid pregnancy.”
At least in concept, NFP is relatively straightforward: a woman keeps track of her natural fertility cycle in order to plan the generation of her family. This is just about where that level of straightforwardness ends, though; proper use of NFP requires perseverance in regular tracking of a woman’s cycle, and there are several different strategies that are used to track cycles.
The method taught at the St. Gianna Clinic is the Creighton model. This method monitors a woman’s natural cervical secretions in order to determine whether she’s in a period of fertility or infertility. Along with a trained provider, a woman will use a chart to keep track of these secretions throughout her cycle. Katherine Ross, one of the clinic’s Creighton model instructors, said the Creighton model is not a method of contraception, but is rather a thorough way of “knowing the woman’s body and how it functions, and then working cooperatively with that.”
This method isn’t limited to use in the realm of family planning. Creighton model charting goes hand in hand with what’s known as NaPro (Natural Procreative) Technology. NaPro Technology relies on the observations made using the Creighton model charting system to identify abnormalities in a woman’s cycle and determine how to treat them. For this reason, Ross said NaPro providers are required to be at least a nurse practitioner or physician associate so they can understand the conditions that might lead to the detected abnormalities.
“There have been cases,” Ross said, “where abnormal bleeding (discovered through monitoring) has led to uncovering cancer, so if a woman is tracking and seeing those patterns and knows it’s abnormal, they can identify the abnormality earlier so we can treat it earlier.”
Ross said a lot of research has been put into the Creighton model in its development. “There was a lot of time taken in its development to make sure the foundation of it is very sound. We’re continuing to see that it does work,” she said.
This model of NFP is also highly accessible. Susanne Graf, another Creighton practitioner at the St. Gianna Clinic, said, “Anyone who wants to can learn it — single women, couples wanting to avoid or achieve pregnancy, women with cycle issues, etc. It’s really flexible.”
Ross said the St. Gianna Clinic has a wide range of people who are taught Creighton model. “We’ll teach anyone; oftentimes, we do get couples who want to conceive and are struggling with infertility, other times we get couples who are having wild symptoms that they want to manage. We also have women who chart for pre-menopause, as cycles can start to get a bit wonky towards the end of their reproductive life,” she said.
She also said teenagers are more than welcome to learn to use Creighton, though the program is tweaked slightly to apply more to the things that pertain to them at that age. “I believe it’s important for girls to understand what goes on. I don’t think our current system of teaching fertility is the best; I didn’t fully understand a lot of this until I was out of nursing school,” she said.
If you find yourself interested in learning more about this method of Natural Family Planning, you’re more than welcome at the St. Gianna Clinic. You can call the clinic at (920) 605-3115 and ask about Creighton model NFP, and you’ll be connected either to Ross or Graf.