Institute for Reproductive Health celebrates 20th year of expanding family planning options

12/08/05

CEMOPLAF to be honored at event

Twenty years ago, the natural family planning options available to couples around the world were widely regarded by many people and by some family planning programs as ineffective, complex and time-consuming. Access to and information about natural family planning was limited, making it especially difficult for couples in developing countries to utilize these methods.

For the past two decades, the Institute for Reproductive Health at Georgetown University has worked to help women and men make informed choices about family planning and provide effective natural options. With support from the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Institute has researched and developed simple natural family planning methods and has provided technical assistance and training to international organizations in 25 countries, including those in Africa, Asia and Latin America to help incorporate fertility awareness into their work.

The Institute will kickoff its 20th year of expanding family planning options for women and men around the world with a reception and award ceremony Friday, December 9, at 3:30 p.m. at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Building. The event is being held in collaboration with USAID.

"The Institute for Reproductive Health's 20-year record of achievements in research and education on family planning and reproductive health issues illustrates a deep commitment to public health in the United States and around the world," said Stuart Bondurant, MD, interim executive vice president for health sciences at Georgetown University.

The Office of Population and Reproductive Health's Research, Technology and Utilization Division's third annual Marjorie C. Horn Operations Research Award will be presented to the organization CEMOPLAF at the event for its long-standing commitment to the use of research for program improvement in family planning. CEMOPLAF is a leading provider of family planning and reproductive healthcare services to low-income women and men in Ecuador. Teresa de Vargas, executive director of CEMOPLAF, will accept the award on behalf of the organization, which has worked closely with the Institute for Reproductive Health to promote fertility awareness and with the Population Council to undertake operations research and capacity building.

"For many years, CEMOPLAF has worked to maximize access to family planning services through research on how to reach underserved populations, including indigenous groups, adolescents and men," said Victoria Jennings, PhD, director of the Institute for Reproductive Health. "Their work is innovative and they are constantly developing new approaches to improve delivery and using research to evaluate these approaches."

The annual award was established in honor of Dr. Marjorie C. Horn, who served as deputy chief of the Research, Technology and Utilization Division of USAID prior to her death in 2002. It recognizes excellence in implementation of operations and program research and for using research to improve reproductive health programs.

The event also marks the beginning of the Institute for Reproductive Health's 20th year. As part of Georgetown University's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the Institute recognizes the potential for natural methods to meet the needs of numerous couples worldwide who are not using an effective method of contraception even though they do not want to become pregnant.

To address this issue, the Institute has developed and tested the Standard Days Method -- a simple method that is currently provided by a variety of programs around the world. More then 95 percent effective for women with menstrual cycles between 26 and 32 days long (approximately 80 percent of cycles are within this range) and when used correctly, the Standard Days Method is based on the fact that there is a "fertile" window in a woman's menstrual cycle when she can become pregnant. Most women who use the Standard Days Method rely on CycleBeads, a color-coded string of beads, to help them identify their fertile days.

The Institute also developed and tested the TwoDay Method, which relies on the presence or absence of the cervical secretions as an indicator of fertility. It has been found to be 96 percent effective when used correctly and appropriate for women with a wide range of menstrual cycle lengths.

About the Institute for Reproductive Health The Institute for Reproductive Health is dedicated to helping women and men make informed choices about family planning and providing them with simple and effective natural options. As part of Georgetown University's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the Institute conducts research to develop natural methods of family planning and test them in service delivery settings.

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