St. Louis physician says more doctors should practice NFP
By Kevin Kelly
Catholic Key Associate Editor
KANSAS CITY - They could call it better living without chemistry. But Dr. Michael Dixon told some 50 of his colleagues Oct. 29 that Natural Family Planning is also the "cutting edge in women's health care."
Kevin Kelly/Key photo
St. Louis obstetrician/gynecologist Dr. Michael Dixon, second from right, talks with Ken Greene of the diocesan Family Life Office, Phyllis White of Kansas City's FertilityCare Center, and Kansas City-St. Joseph Bishop Robert W. Finn.
Dixon, a St. Louis obstetrician and gynecologist, said that his practice relies on the Creighton Model FertilityCare System exclusively in lieu of artificial means of birth control.
As a Catholic, he said, he won't prescribe any form of artificial birth control. That would be a violation of his integrity both as a Catholic and as a health care professional, Dixon said.
Drawing upon Pope Paul VI's landmark 1968 encyclical "Humanae Vitae," Dixon said that artificial birth control has led to a separation of the unitive purpose of sex between a married man and woman and its procreative purpose, with damaging effects upon society and the family unit.
"There is a disconnect between life and love," Dixon said in his post-dinner remarks at the Radisson Hotel in downtown Kansas City. The evening was sponsored by Bishop Robert W. Finn and the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocesan Family Life Office, and the FertilityCare Center of Kansas City, which trains teachers and women in the Creighton Model.
Dixon admitted that when he struck out on his own to form his own Natural Family Planning practice in St. Louis, he feared that he wouldn't be able to support himself and his family.
But as the only such Ob/Gyn for miles around, Dixon said he has a six-month waiting list of patients referred to him by Natural Family Planning teachers and centers from as far away as Kansas City and Indiana.
He begged his Kansas City area colleagues to join him and reduce his work load.
"My wife would appreciate it," he quipped.
The Creighton Model, he said, is one of four systems of family planning that doesn't rely on drugs. Dixon said that all four have strengths, including the sympto-thermal method taught in the Kansas City area by the Couple to Couple League.
But the Creighton Model has a body of ongoing scientific research behind it, pioneered by Dr. Thomas Hilgers, founder of the Pope Paul VI Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction at Omaha's Creighton University School of Medicine.
That has led to new applications, now called NaPro Technology - short for Natural Procreative Technology - that are extremely accurate in the diagnosis of a variety of women's reproductive conditions, Dixon said.
The Creighton Model relies on the woman reading easily identifiable changes in the discharge of cervical mucous to pinpoint fertile and infertile days in her reproductive cycle.
It can be used both to avoid pregnancy for "grave and serious reasons," Dixon said, or it can be used to help a married couple achieve pregnancy.
"No internal examination is required. It is a discharge any woman can recognize," he said. "A woman doesn't have to stop using NFP if she was using it to avoid pregnancy in order to achieve pregnancy."
In fact, much of his practice involves women who are using NFP, but are having difficulty achieving pregnancy.
Traditional medical practice takes the date of the first day of a woman's reproductive cycle and attempts to guess where the woman is now in her cycle, Dixon said.
But if a woman shows him months of careful charting using the Creighton Model, he not only can pinpoint exactly where she is on her reproductive cycle, but he has a precise history of previous cycles that aids him in diagnosing her condition.
This is especially helpful in diagnosing the cause of infertility, Dixon said.
"It is amazing how easy it is to diagnose infertility just by looking at the charts alone," Dixon said.
"In my practice, within six months, 98 percent of the women I see (with infertility problems) will achieve pregnancy," he said. "This is truly a breakthrough."
Dixon said much of that success comes from the replacement of natural hormones that women need to achieve pregnancy. This avoids artificial fertility drugs which highly increase the risk of multiple births and premature deliveries.
"This spans everything I do in my practice," he said. "If (the injection of natural hormones) is timed specifically to a woman's cycle, you can do it with great efficiency. But it is all predicated on knowing exactly where a woman is on her cycle."
Bishop Finn also urged Kansas City area Catholic physicians to join the Natural Family Planning movement.
"It is clear we are under-provided," the bishop said. "We don't have enough people in health care to take care of the legitimate needs of the people of God."
Bishop Finn said it is up to lay people in the health care field to carry the work of the church to the world.
"One of the most profound and deepest needs of the church is for you to do what you do in the world with great faith and perseverance," he said. "It's clear that the church needs your help."
For information on the Creighton Model of Natural Family Planning, call (816) 224-1177 in Kansas City, or (816) 232-2258 in St. Joseph. For information on sympto-thermal method of Natural Family Planning, contact John or Penny Harrison of the Couple to Couple League at (816) 453-7797 in Kansas City.