The Creighton Model of Fertility Awareness

by Dr. Andrea Hilborn, ND Orginally published in The Kingston Whig-Standard

Before I ever considered a career in health, I took a course offered at my university’s Women’s Centre about something called fertility awareness method. Fertility awareness method is a system that women can use to track the changes in their bodies that indicate whether or not they are fertile at any given time. I was shocked at what I did not know about my own body.

More recently, I had the pleasure of meeting Caitlin Fitzpatrick, a local expert on a specific type of fertility awareness method called the Creighton Model FertilityCare System. Caitlin impressed me with her knowledge and passion. I was very happy when she agreed to an interview for this column and I hope I do her justice.

Q: What is it that you do Caitlin?

A: I teach women and couples about the Creighton Model FertilityCare System. I work directly and privately with couples to monitor their fertility, which allows them to plan their families naturally, as well as help women have a better understanding of their overall gynecological health.

Q: Tell me more about the Creighton Model.

A: The Creighton Model started in 1976 and its goal is to standardize the recording of fertility biomarkers — specifically the cervical mucous. Using that standardization, we are able to identify the fertile and infertile times of a woman’s cycle, recognize any health issues and prescribe treatments at the appropriate time in the cycle.

Q: Who can benefit from learning the Creighton Model?

A: All women, especially from the beginning of menstruation, up to menopause. We work a lot with couples wanting to conceive. We’re also starting to understand the benefits of using it after menopause and during pregnancy. Beyond fertility, women with PMS can be benefit from it as well. A lot of women experience varying degrees of PMS. Being able to target the post-ovulatory phase, realize which hormones the woman is low in, and prescribing the hormones can reduce the symptoms of PMS.

Q: Personally, I think this is knowledge that should be a birthright for every woman. Who is behind the Creighton Model?

A: Dr. Hiljers worked with Creighton University to do a study on natural methods of fertility regulation, which led to the realization that we needed to standardize it. Now he works out of Pope Paul VI Institute in Omaha, Nebraska.

Q: What can this do for people who are struggling with trying to have a baby?

A: By tracking a woman’s cycle, we can determine where the problem lies. For 20-40% of couples, it’s just a timing issue. In other cases, we find polycystic ovarian syndrome, male factor infertility, ovulation defects or low grade infections. Once a problem is uncovered, the appropriate treatment can be pursued.

Q: Couples can also use this method to avoid pregnancy. Unfortunately, fertility awareness method has been confounded with the calendar method, which is not very effective for preventing pregnancy. How effective is the Creighton Model for avoiding conception?

A: The method effectiveness for the Creighton Model, which is a measure of how effective it is when it is practiced perfectly, is 99.5% effective. The use effectiveness depends on the couple’s’ level of commitment. Overall it is 96.9% effective.

Q: How can people find out more?

A: I encourage anyone who is interested to contact me either by phone or e-mail. I offer free intro sessions to anyone who wants to know more. Also, check the website giftoflifefertilitycare.com, which is the website of the clinic I partner with in Ottawa.

Thanks Caitlin. I think the power of fertility awareness method is underestimated because of its simplicity. I know you are going to help a lot of people over the course of your career; we’re lucky to have you in Kingston.

You can reach Caitlin at 613-766-1246 or cfitzpatrick@outlook.com. Thanks for reading this week. You can find many more health-related articles at www.natural-route.com/blog