Presence Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center

Jill Proffitt, 25, was interested in learning more about natural family planning (NFP) for health and religious reasons. With plans to get married in August 2014, Proffitt, and her fiancé, Kelton Stecklein, 24, began to seek opportunities for guidance on NFP.

In December 2013, the couple attended an introductory session at the FertilityCare Center at Presence Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center (PSMEMC). The session covered what to expect in learning about NFP - instilling confidence in the couple's decision to pursue this path. The center offers the Creighton Model FertilityCare™ System (CrMS), which helps couples understand when they are naturally fertile and infertile based on the woman's cycle.

The fertility-awareness based program relies upon standard observation and charting of biological markers to understand a woman's health. Fertility awareness is an alternative to hormonal birth control or other medications to treat disorders. The approach is consistent with Catholic teaching. Lisa M. Jurski, MSPT, COMT, Certified FertilityCare Practitioner (CFCP), helped open the center in October 2013.

Holistic View of Women's Health
"It's a very holistic view of women's health," Proffitt said. "The program helps you understand your fertility - days of peak fertility and infertility - allowing us to make decisions about intercourse based on our family goals at that time."

Proffitt, who recently graduated with a doctorate in physical therapy (DPT) from University of Illinois at Chicago, and Stecklein, who is currently enrolled in an out-of-state DPT program, liked the science aspect of the fertility-awareness based program. They liked that it includes the responsibility of both partners - an aspect they feel is lacking in most other family planning methods.

"The method opens up communications between spouses," Proffitt said. "We want to do this as a team. We read the books together, review the material together, and when possible, meet with Lisa (our FertilityCare practitioner) together."

Monitoring Signs of Fertility
The couple, who doesn't believe in sexual relations before marriage, began charting soon after they enrolled in the program in December 2013. Women chart cervical mucus discharge and menstrual cycle each month to monitor signs of fertility.

"With Lisa's guidance, the process of learning CrMS is simple and after the initial session, women can immediately begin charting," Proffitt said.

CrMS also is used in conjunction with NaProTechnology (Natural Procreative Technology) - an innovative approach used to assess and treat underlying conditions in women's reproductive and gynecological health, such as hormonal abnormalities, infertility, cramps, ovarian cysts, endometriosis, repeat miscarriages, postpartum depression and other disorders.

"It is blessing to have a program that guides us in family planning in accordance with our Pro-Life beliefs, while facilitating openness, discipline and growth in our relationship," said Stecklein, who participated in about half the sessions, sometimes using Skype (communications via Internet), because he lives in Colorado. "Coming from a background in physiology helps to understand the science behind NFP - it's the only family planning method I know of that I trust to ensure the health and safety of my soon-to-be wife."

Enhanced Communication
Stecklein said if people learn about CrMS and understand its benefits - including enhanced communication in the relationship and the long-term health aspects for the woman - more would consider it. The couple has several more sessions to complete the program.

"Lisa is very knowledgeable about issues that come up," said Proffitt, noting she's had a lot of stress with graduation, a new job, moving to Colorado and a wedding on the horizon. "Lisa is a good calming force - a great person who is attentive to her patients." She said they also bonded because they are both physical therapists.

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