Fertility awareness training; an evidence-based course for health professionals

Fertility awareness training; an evidence-based course for health


J. Knight, C. Pyper 

Department of Public Health, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK 

Introduction: Fertility Awareness Methods include all family planning

methods based on the identification of the fertile time. This knowledge can be

used to plan or avoid pregnancy. Fertility awareness methods depend on two key

variables – the accurate identification of the fertile days of a woman’s

menstrual cycle and the modification of sexual behaviour either to target

intercourse to plan a pregnancy or to abstain from intercourse during the

fertile time to avoid a pregnancy. The effectiveness of fertility awareness

methods to avoid pregnancy depends on: the ability of couples to abstain from

intercourse during the fertile time); or to use a barrier method consistently

during the fertile time. 

Aim: To develop an evidence-based fertility awareness course that

addresses the training requirements of the average reproductive or family

planning health professional 

Design: Questionnaire evaluation and focus group Subjects: GPs

practice nurses, midwives, family planning nurses undertaking a fertility

awareness course. 

Methods: A six -day evidence based fertility awareness- training

course has been established by fertility UK. The course is credit-rated 30

points at level 3 by the University of Greenwich. It is designed for health

professionals to achieve competence as providers of education in fertility

awareness and natural family planning for women/ couples at all stages of

reproductive life. More recently there has been a demand for a shorter course

that offers an overview of fertility awareness methods. A two-day course was

therefore designed to cover the essential fertility awareness information health

professionals require to support a client requesting a fertility awareness

method of family planning. The participants experienced the two-day course as

the initial two days of the six- day course. Their views are therefore valuable

because they are aware of the content that was not covered during the first two


Evaluation: The course was evaluated using a questionnaire and a

participatory focus group 

Results: The results will describe the content of the two-day course

and the views of the participants about what is essential information 

Conclusion: Training costs are increasing and it is important to

reduce the length of training courses if possible. To do this it is important to

clarify what is the essential information about fertility awareness methods of

family planning required by the average family planning professional and

separate it this training from the information required by health professionals

who wish to have a specialist interest in the subject.

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