Natural Family Planning: A very effective rule ignored!

Recently the writer of a chart review article in CCL’s Family Foundations wrote as follows concerning the start of Phase 3, post-ovulation infertility.  “Don’t ever consider the start of Phase III before P+3.  Using the ST [Sympto-Thermal] Rule, there will never be a start of Phase III before P+3, so don’t even bother looking there.”  (Andy Alderson,  FF, Sept-Oct 2016, p 36).  If Mr. Alderson had said that this applied only to the current CCL version of Dr. Josef Roetzer’s version of the ST system, he would have been correct.  However, that is not the only contemporary ST system, and another system finds that the start of Phase 3 can start on the evening of P+2.

For years, the CCL taught that Phase 3 starts on the evening of Peak Day plus 2 days of drying up crosschecked by at least 3 days of full thermal shift—three temps consecutively at least 4/10ths of one degree F above the lower level of temps.  That rule is based on the excellent results reported by Dr. G. K. Doering who reported a 99% level of effectiveness with a three-day temperature-only rule.  Note that Dr. Doering’s study was based only on the temperature sign without any crosscheck from the mucus sign.  When Dr. Konald Prem, longtime chief medical advisor to CCL, was asked whether CCL should teach that rule, he wanted to teach it only in a Sympto-Thermal version, so he insisted that the three days of full thermal shift had to be crosschecked by at least two days of drying up past Peak Day.  This was to guard against a “false” temperature rise caused by a cold or fever or something else not related to post-ovulation progesterone.   Our combined thinking was that if the couples in Dr. Doering’s study could achieve an effectiveness rate of 99.2% without any crosscheck from the mucus sign, our couples should be able to do just as well or even better with a crosscheck from the mucus sign.

It is also of interest that the pregnancies that counted against the Doering system’s effectiveness were all “imperfect use” pregnancies; that is, the couples did not follow the rules of the system being tested.  In fact, Dr. Doering wrote: “On the 3rd day of the hyper-thermal phase a conception has never been observed [and recorded in the literature], so that later the strict form of the temperature method was formulated in such a way that not until the 3rd day of the hyper-thermal phase could infertility be counted on.”  In our website text, we added [and recorded in the literature] because we are skeptical of 100% claims regarding natural phenomena.

To the best of our knowledge, NFP International is the only American-based organization to teach this highly effective approach.  The CCL organizations in the Czech Republic and Slovakia also continue to teach this approach.

When we first saw this change in 2007, we objected, but we were told that a couple can always wait one more day.  That’s true in one sense, but not in another.  That is, on the next day, one of the spouses may be out of town for a day or a week or even for months in the case of a military deployment.

The philosophy that we and Dr. Prem brought to the CCL was to give couples sufficient information so that they could make a well informed decision.  We pray that CCL will return to that philosophy of education.

Thanks for reading.  Please come back again next week.

John and Sheila, November 12, 2016


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