Last week I was in Siegburg, a small town near the Rhine and Bonn, to take the certified course to become a Sensiplan teacher.
WHAT IS SENSIPLAN
Sensiplan is a fertility awareness method (FAM) or Natural Family Planning Method (NFP). It is a symptothermal method, that is, it observes the temperature and cervical fluid to determine a woman’s fertile window. It has been scientifically tested for over thirty years at the University of Heidelberg and Düsseldorf (Prof. Freundl), with excellent results: as a contraceptive method it is 99.6% effective. What does this mean? That it is as effective as the pill, indeed more so than the pill. Why?
Sensiplan has a Pearl Index of 0.4% for perfect use, and 1.8% for typical use. The pill is 0.3% for perfect use, and 9% for typical use.
Perfect use vs. typical use
Fertility scholars have developed an error index for contraceptive methods called the Pearl Index: the lower it is, the more effective the method.
The Pearl Index can be distinguished in the so-called “perfect use” and “typical use”. The “perfect” method indicates the effectiveness of the method per se. The “typical” method takes into account deviations from the perfect method (e.g. the pill must always be taken at the same time or its effectiveness drops, the diaphragm must be recalibrated after diets or vaginal birth).
Sensiplan has a Pearl Index of 0.4% for perfect use, and 1.8% for typical use. The pill is at 0.3% for perfect use, and 9% for typical use (source: World Health Organisation). In fact, the pill should be taken every day, always at the same time, and in case of gastrointestinal disorders or if you are taking certain drugs, it may be less effective: statistically, out of 100 women who use the pill for a year, about 9 will become pregnant. Implants, injections, hormonal coils and patches have a much lower Pearl Index, even for typical use. Why? They do not allow for any interference from the woman, who is totally dependent on the doctor. So the margin of error decreases, but not the risks of depression, thrombosis, cancer and decreased libido.
THE ADVANTAGES OF SENSIPLAN
- It opens our eyes, ears and senses and teaches us the subtle language of the body.
- It gives you a better understanding of the menstrual cycle and provides useful information about menstrual disorders. This dispels many myths and presents problems under a new light.
- It opens up a new level of awareness about fertility and is an option for couples as well as for very young women, lesbians or singles.
- It helps women and couples to conceive because it teaches them to recognize when they are at the peak of fertility.
- It provides valuable diagnostic information for women who have difficulty conceiving or maintaining pregnancy.
- It’s as safe as the pill without any side effects.
- It reduces the medicalisation of the body and pregnancy by reducing the use of hysterectomy, assisted fertilisation and childbirth induction.
ABSTINENCE? NO, IMAGINATION
The perfect use of Sensiplan involves abstinence during the fertile period. What does abstinence mean? The fact that this method has been developed in collaboration with a Catholic association worried me a little, I must tell you the truth. I was afraid they would try to put some doctrine into it together with science. How wrong I was!
Abstinence simply means avoiding penetration and exchange of seminal fluids.
This is a wonderful opportunity to explore sexuality. Eroticism, oral sex, petting, massage, striptease, masturbation, are all possible activities during the fertile period, keeping the male semen away from our genitals. Dr. Ursula Sottong and the pedagogue Petra Klann-Hein, the two excellent Sensiplan teachers, did not hesitate to mention barrier methods and erotic fantasy.
Sensiplan’s Pearl Index for typical use, in the words of Dr. Sottong:
“The method is very effective. Yet, people get pregnant. Why? Because there is penetration.”
It is clear that if penetration occurs during the fertile period pregnancy is possible. On the other hand, the method is extremely effective in signaling us every fertile day. Incidentally, no contraceptive method is 100% effective.
Authoritative and renowned
Sensiplan is a registered trademark to distinguish it from other FAMs or NFPs that do not have the same scientific rigor as contraceptive methods; or lack the excellent teaching method and materials developed by professionals in adult education.
The method is so well-regarded that participants came from all over Europe, from Portugal to the Czech Republic, and even from China! The youngest was six weeks old, and accompanied her mother, a great example of how everything is possible when it comes with good health, a family that supports you in your choices, and good will.
I can’t wait to see my classmates and our teachers for the second block in November. Body literacy continues to surprise and excite me. Medulla will be able to offer the certified course from April 2018 (in English and German), brace yourselves!!