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Catholic Medical Quarterly Volume 62 (1) February 2012, p41

The Gift of Fertility

By Olive Duddy, President of the National Association of Natural Family Planning teachers.

I'm hurt, hurt and humiliated beyond endurance, seeing the wheat ripening, the fountains never ceasing to give water, the sheep bearing hundreds of lambs, the she-dogs, until it seems the whole country rises to show me its tender sleeping young while I feel two hammer-blows here instead of the mouth of my child...Yerma by Federico Garcia Lorca (1898-1936), Spanish poet, playwright.

Yerma’s poignant cry is one we will hear with increasing frequency owing to the epidemic of STIs and effects of synthetic hormonal fertility control. This cry has stimulated investigation into infertility and has led to a refined knowledge of male and female fertility, the development of sperm and the ovum, and the mechanism of fertilisation.

The language of the Ancients describing Creation (Genesis Ch.1) is now translated by astronomers into terms of energy, atoms, nebulae, galaxies and the solar system. It told what God did before He created man and woman in God’s image and likeness, with the gifts of gender, marriage, fruitfulness, and the gift of fertility.

Chapter 2 tells how God created us. He took the dust from the earth, formed it into the likeness of a man and breathed his spirit into the nostrils, giving life to the man.

That is how we too are created. God takes the ‘dust’ from our parents and breathes a new spirit at the time of our conception, unique genetically and spiritually. This is why the act of sexual intercourse is so sacred and not to be interfered with.

Dr Squires who discovered the biphasic temperature of women, Ogino and Knaus, Dr John Marshall, Dr and Mrs Billings, Dr Anna Flynn, Dr John Kelly, to name but a very few scientists who have given us now the reliable means to control our fertility more effectively than barrier or hormonal methods. 98% - 99.6%.1 For those who are sub-fertile, 33% achieve pregnancy when taught the signs to indicate fertility, without recourse to artificial reproductive techniques. What a financial saving, as well as the sub-fertile couple being accompanied, lessening not increasing anxiety. Would Yerma have conceived?

Now in 2011, surely it is time to teach all couples these signs of fertility. Courses are available for all Sexual Health Nurses, Practice Nurses, General Practitioners and Consultants. Fertility Awareness is too valuable a resource to relinquish to the Alternative Health Sector who are becoming increasingly interested.

The Natural Family Planning Teachers’ Association holds an annual course and is developing a distance learning course.

Dr Olive M. Duddy MB ChB MRGCP chairman



  • P. Frank-Herrmann, J. Heil, C. Gnoth, et al. Journal of Human Reproduction Vol 22, no 5. Feb 20, 2007