This article appears in the February 1999 edition of the Catholic Medical Quarterly
THE NATURAL FERTILITY CLINIC
Mrs. Caroline Kerr
The Natural Fertility Clinic at the Hospital of St. John and St. Elizabeth, St. John's Wood, London. NW9 9NH was launched in April 1997 under the direction of Dr. Anna Flynn, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, and sponsored by the National Association of Natural Family Planning Teachers (NANFPT). Anna devoted much of her life to research in natural fertility and made a major contribution to the development of the scientific basis of Natural Family Planning. Thus she responded to Pope Paul Vl's plea to 'men of science', in Humanae Vitae in 1968, that 'by competitive studies they try to elucidate better the conditions favourable to a lawful regulation of procreation.' Sadly, Anna, who had been ill for some time died on 15th August 1997 in her native Ireland.
We have, however, been fortunate that, with the support of Mr. John Kelly, President of NANFPT, Dr. Peter Doherty, Guild of Catholic Doctors, and the hospital staff at St. John and St. Elizabeth, the Clinic is now established.
The aim of the centre is to provide teaching for couples who wish to learn about Natural Family Planning and Fertility Awareness and to offer a 'low tech' natural approach to the assessment of those who are having difficulty conceiving. Our team comprises two 'frontline' NFP teachers, Mrs. Gill Cox, Health Visitor and Mrs. Caroline Kerr, Nurse. Dr. Cathy Friel, a GP and NFP teacher is our medical adviser. We are able to refer difficult problems to Mr. Kevin Harrington, Consultant Gynaecologist and Obstetrician and Mrs. Anita Abrams, Clinical Psychologist.
We offer instruction on alternate Wednesday evenings from 6 pm. to 8 pm. Each appointment lasts half an hour and is confidential. The tuition is on a one to one basis. The fee is �15.00 per appointment. We teach the sympto-thermal (sometimes known as double cheek, or multiple index) method of NFP and anticipate 6-8 instruction sessions per client. During that time she will be taught to observe and record the major indices of fertility, i.e. basal body temperatures, cervical mucus, cycle length and changes in the cervix. By observing these physiological signs the client is able to define the fertile and infertile phases of the menstrual cycle. The information can be used to plan or avoid a pregnancy.
Clients may obtain appointments by phoning the Out-Patient Department at the hospital of St. John and St. Elizabeth (0171 286 5126) An information pamphlet is being prepared; copies are available on request (Self-addressed and stamped envelope appreciated). NANFPT has teachers in other parts of the country - some charge and others teach on a voluntary basis - for details contact Mrs. Colleen Norman (Tel: 01222 754628).
The Clinic has been slow to establish itself, due to the sad death of Anna Flynn. We appreciate any support available, such as making the Clinic better known and facilitating client referrals. The Clinic is mentioned in some 'How to get Pregnant' books. Over the last 6 mouths there has been a steadily increasing stream both of enquiries and clients. It is a natural sequence for clients to use the information to achieve a pregnancy and subsequently use the knowledge for fertility control.
NANFPT will be running training courses at Douai Abbey, Woolhampton, Berkshire, in 1999. The course designed to train teachers, will be held from Saturday morning to Sunday afternoon.
The course is in the process of being validated by the John Moore University, Liverpool, within the department of Midwifery. It will consist of three modules at level two, and a total of 48 credit points will be awarded. We hope that this will be of interest to Practice Nurses, Midwives, Family Planning Nurses etc. Depending on demand, we hope the course will be run annually or biannually in the future.