Eighty women attending for consultation at a tertiary referral fertility unit over a 3-month period were surveyed for their knowledge of fertility awareness and how they used this information to enhance their chances of conception. It was hypothesized that less than 50% of the subjects had an adequate understanding of when the fertile time occurred in their menstrual cycle. A questionnaire was completed anonymously by each subject and these were scored in 3 categories for fertility awareness by 2 independent Natural Family Planning teachers. Scores ranged from 0 for women who had no concept of fertility awareness, to 6 for women who were highly aware. The results showed that 26% (N = 21) of subjects had a score of 4 or greater which was considered as having an adequate understanding. The hypothesis was accepted, giving reason for concern about the effectiveness of consumer education at all levels of fertility investigation.
PIP: Fertility awareness was assessed in a survey of 80 women presenting over a 3-month period to a tertiary referral unit at the National Women's Hospital in Auckland, New Zealand, for infertility investigation. It was hypothesized that less than 50% of menstruating women with a history of at least 2 years of infertility have an adequate understanding about the fertile time of their menstrual cycle. 60% of women had been trying to conceive for 2-3 years, 23% for 4-5 years, and 17% for more than 6 years. For 58% of clients, this was their first visit to a fertility clinic. 13% had attended a natural family planning (NFP) clinic previously. On the basis of questionnaire responses, participants were graded from 0 to 2 in each of the following 3 categories: 1) level of fertility symptom awareness (cervical mucus and ovulatory pain), 2) level of understanding of what these symptoms mean, and 3) level of use of this information to enhance conception. Only 21 women (26%) had a final score of 4 or greater--a predetermined cut-off considered indicative of adequate fertility awareness. The largest percentage of women (46%) had scores of 0-1. 80% of women with previous NFP instruction had adequate fertility awareness scores. These finding supported the study hypothesis of a generally poor level of fertility awareness among women presenting for treatment of infertility. Greater utilization of NFP clinics by general practitioners and specialists, as well as incorporation of NFP trained nurses into tertiary referral clinics, are recommended.