International Conference on the 50th anniversary of the Humanae  Vitae. Centro Pastorale Pablo VI, Brescia, 16th to 18th June, 2018  

Esperanza Coll and Montserrat Rutllant, members of RENAFER (Spanish Association of Teachers in Natural Family Planning) (*).

Following the thrust of the words of Humanae Vitae, point 24th: “We now want to  encourage the men of science, who can contribute notably to the welfare of marriage and  family and to the peace of consciences if, putting together their studies, they look towards  clarifying more deeply the different conditions favourable to an honest regulation of human  procreation”, this Association was constituted by the initiative of health professionals and  from other sciences.  

Historic Context  

We cannot forget the context in which the encyclical was written: the revolution of the  sixties was in its height and the economic powers (World Bank, Contraception multinational  enterprises etc.) pressed, especially by means of the media, confounding many consciences.  The Pope, had to evade, moreover than the pressing of these public opinions moved  frequently by economic interests, another type of pressure within the Church. People who  were afraid of not being understood and of losing followers, got away from the practice of  Humanae Vitae, without taking into account all the positive aspects of the encyclical,  without looking deeper into the complete definition of conjugal love of point 9, or other  aspects that had more to do with the biopsychological situation of the woman (point 13) and  the prophetic warnings contained in it: “take into consideration the easy and wide road  which will be opened to infidelities and moral degradation…”  

These words, unfortunately, have a clear reflection on the non-stop increase of promiscuity  among youngsters, on the increase of sexual transmitted infections, on the banalization of  human sexuality that becomes materialistic merchandise, an object to be used and thrown  away. We must consider up to what point degradation arrives when we hear mentioned  pederasty so often, or when many countries considered advanced see the need of legalizing,  penalizing and forbidding zoophilic relationships.  

First steps  

The professionals who finally constituted the Association RENAFER, understood that it was  necessary to deepen their knowledge on matters of feminine fertility, combined fertility,  subfertility or infertility, etc. The majority of the health professionals of our environment  only had knowledge about Ogino-Knauss or to the post-ovulatory shift of basal temperature  in relation to fertility and the menstrual cycle, but they showed no knowledge about the last  advances in NFP and had not studied the WHO manual of 1978 (Learning Package for Family  Fertility Education). The doctoral thesis of professor de Irala, J. “Natural Methods of Fertility 

Regulation: knowledge, attitudes and practices of medical doctors” (Pamplona, December,  1990) showed the evidence of this lack of knowledge.  

Following the example of European and North American groups that worked in the  protocolled study of methods of NFP and their practical application, small meetings of  medical doctors were started and in them the works of Dr. J. Rötzer, Drs. J. and E. Billings  and Prof. E. Ödeblad etc. were shown. They were also encouraged to prove the reliability of  these studies in the practice of their own profession.  

The first contacts with foreign experts (Drs. J. and E. Billings, Dr. C. Lanctot president of the  FIDAF, Dra. Capella from the Policlínico Gemelli and Dr. Anne Flynn) took place in 1984 in  the Congress on responsible procreation organized by the Vatican in Rome, in 1986 in  the 9th Congrès International de la Famille de París and in 1989 in la Scientific  Conference during the International Congress celebrated in Madrid, where we met Prof.  E. Ödeblad.  

Starting in 1987, WOOMB International, authorized Dra. Montserrat Rutllant, President and  founder of de RENAFER, to create teaching centres and to accredit new teachers of the  Billings Ovulation Method. 

Dra. Helvia Temprano, member and founder of RENAFER, published in 1990 her doctoral  thesis “Study of the biophysical parameters of the cervical human mucus and investigation  of its crystallization with optic and electronic microscopy. Influence of the inductors of  ovulation”.  

Introduction in the Universities  

From its beginning, and looking into the field of the health professionals, we have organized  courses, informative sessions, free choice subjects and workshops in universities (U. de  Navarra, U. Autónoma de Barcelona, UCAM (Murcia), U. Internacional de Catalunya) Nurse  schools (Escuela Universitaria de Enfermería de Bellvitge, E. de Enfermería de la UNAV, E. de  Enfermería de S. Juan de Dios de Barcelona, E. de Enfermería de la Universitat Internacional  de Catalunya), as well as conferences in schools of medical doctors, academies of medical  sciences, etc.  

International projection  

During the past 30 years, RENAFER has also promoted and organized International  Symposiums in different Spanish cities (Barcelona, La Coruña, Málaga, Madrid, Tenerife,  Bilbao). Experts in NFP met in those events. They were members of organizations involved in  teaching and investigation on Symptothermal Methods, as well as those who are focalized in  cervical secretion.  

Members of RENAFER have also cooperated in the organization and have presented papers  in International Congresses which were celebrated in other European cities (Congress in  Milan 2000, Congress in Kaunas, Lithuania 2004, and Congress in Milan 2015) 

Since the constitution of IEEF (European Institute of Family Education), RENAFER has been  one of its members, and has been present continuously in its Board. It was also represented  in the previous FIDAF.  

Doctoral theses  

Several doctoral theses have emerged from the experience in working in NFP, both related  with the scientific point of view and its anthropological aspect:  

Menárguez, M. “Morphological characterization of the different types of cervical mucus with  light microscopy and electronic sweep microscopy”, 1998. This investigation appeared as the  front page of one of the publications of Nature.  

Medialdea, C. “Biophysical, biochemical and microscopic parameters to facilitate the  knowledge of fertility. Valencia 2004.  

Ferreira, Mª.C. “The adequate anthropology as basis of the natural methods of fertility  awareness”. Masters in Marriage and Family Sciences, Pontificio Instituto “Juan Pablo II”,  Castellón, 2007.  

Valdés, M.I. “Application of the knowledge of human fertility in searching pregnancy: results  in the clinical field”. Universidad Rey Juan Carlos de Madrid, 2012.  

Fernández, Y.: at the present completing the doctoral thesis “Enzymes in the cervical mucus  as pre-ovulatory parameters”, U.A.B Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona.  


After the training of the first health professionals, the teaching of NFP has spread in different  communities of Spain.  

Some of these professionals, members of RENAFER impelled the teaching of NFP in different  countries such as Cuba, Portugal, Argentina and Lithuania.  

Part of the teaching is focused on pre-marriage courses and on married couples interested in  its practical application. The teaching is held in presence, and recently it has been introduced  as a pilot on-line teaching course.  

In a recent work Prof. J. De Irala writes:  

Now a day, many persons have learned to recognize their fertility and are users of the  modern methods of NFP. They manage autonomously, and without cost, their fertility. They  are free of the side effects of artificial contraception whose grave effects have been studied  and published, among others, with scientific quality in the well-known magazines JAMA  Psychiatry (1) And American Journal of Psychiatry (2) and they live their sexuality without the  interference of health professionals. NFP favours communication between the couple in order  to live their sexuality in a real full manner, in order to adapt their sexuality and share in a  better way the decision of avoiding, spacing or favouring a pregnancy. Recognising fertility in  NFP requires an educational process of women’s and men’s empowering in order to reach a  better knowledge and care of their fertility, even favouring the efficient diagnosis of health  problems, if they appear. NFP is also an efficient and valid alternative in the search of  pregnancy, in cases of sub-fertility. So, we might say that HV is really an encyclical that 

favours the interests of public health, reduces the risks for women’s health and constitutes a  real sexual ecology.  

(1) Skovlund CW, MØrch LS, Kessing LV, Lidegaard Ø. “Association of Hormonal Contraception With Depression”. JAMA Psychiatry. 2016;  73:1154-62  

(2) Skovlund CW, MØrch LS, Kessing LV, Lange T, Lidegaard Ø. . “Association of Hormonal Contraception With Suicide Attempts and Suicides” Am.  J Psychiatry 2017. Nov 17  


In order to promote the greatest level of physical, mental and moral health of those whom  we attend, or have attended since 30 years ago, the members of RENAFER oblige themselves  to greater and deeper studies on anthropology, human sexuality, men/women’s sexuality,  responsible sexuality and technological advances which are developed continuously to help  women and couples in their experience of living NFP in a satisfactory way. As we have often  expressed, these studies and the knowledge of the feminine genital cycle, contribute in a  considerable way to the empowering of the woman. The correct use of NFP requires that the  woman knows well the rhythms of her fertility, and that the man adapts his sexual behaviour  to these bio-rhythms, and learns to respect them, following the procreative decisions that  they have taken beforehand.  

Following the approach of the Humanae Vitae and of the Evangelium Vitae promulgated  twenty years after by John Paul II, which in its point 88 says: “In reference to the beginning of  life, the centres of natural methods of fertility regulation have to be promoted as a valuable  help for responsible parenthood”, we have established educational programs of human  sexuality based on personalist anthropology and trained a group of experts which have  worked to help married couples take their procreative decisions, under the frame of the  style of life that NFP proposes. 

 (*) RENAFER (Asociación Española de Profesores de Planificación Familiar Natural) is an  association constituted on February 14th, 1990, in accordance with the article 22nd of  the Spanish Constitution.  

Mrs. Esperanza Coll  

Dra. Montserrat Rutllant  May 11th, 2018