By Anthony Barich
Oxford medical journal Human Reproduction Update is on the verge of publishing a paper on the work of one of the world’s leading hormonal experts regarding the Billings charting method that will “revolutionise women’s health”.
It is understood that HRU, a Oxford University Press publication, will publish a paper on “Types of ovarian activity in women and their significance: the Continuum (a reinterpretation of earlier findings)” as studied by Prof James Brown whose work on Hormone Analysis helped verify the Billings method. This paper will be available online.
Prof Brown, who died on 31 October 2009, was a good friend and colleague of the late Dr John Billings and his wife Dr Evelyn Billings, who pioneered the Billings Ovulation Method™. Dr Evelyn has said their greatest achievement was the Method’s acceptance by China as a legitimate form of family planning.
Prof Brown, formerly Emeritus Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the Royal Women’s Hospital and University of Melbourne, was considered the leading global scientist on ovarian and pituitary hormones.
The subject of the HRU paper will focus on the ovarian variants which occur naturally as a woman journeys from menarche (the first menstrual cycle) to menopause.
The Billings Ovulation Method chart, which reflects the cervical responses to hormonal changes, can effectively be a diagnostic tool, recognising these variants and also alert the woman to abnormalities. These abnormalities can then be investigated medically and treated. Unless the root cause is investigated, a woman may have long-term health effects, for example diabetes or estrogen-dependant cancers.
That a woman’s Billings chart can gauge more than a woman’s fertility “blows away GPs”, say Melbourne-based Billings LIFE Senior Teachers, Joan Clements and Marian Corkill, in Perth on 20 August to give a professional development course for health professionals on Monitoring Fertility: Assisting Conception.
“If gynaecologists and endocrinologists (physicians who deal with organs regarding hormones) take this (paper) on board, it will revolutionise women’s health, as it gives an understanding of why women don’t always have regular cycles and do not necessarily ovulate every month,” Mrs Corkill said.
A perception among the medical and general community, Mrs Corkill said, is that if a method is cheap, easy and not overly technical, it must not be legitimate. The reality is, Mrs Corkill said, that Billings is based on sound science and can be used effectively in any reproductive situation in which a woman finds herself.
At the Ovulation Method Research and Reference Centre of Australia workshop at the University WA for health professionals, Mrs Clements and Mrs Corkill showed a dramatic chart from a real-life scenario where a woman knew she had something wrong based on her Billings chart.
Medical investigations identified a cervical cancer which, if not detected early, would have killed her had she not acted on the information from her chart.
This information is particularly urgent among the community, they said, as a recent Australian study showed that just 18 per cent of women knew how to recognise their signs and symptoms of fertility.
Many women are simply put on the Pill early in their teens, “so their bodies have never been given the chance to work as they should,” Mrs Corkill said.
“When you cease hormonal contraceptives, there will be a time for the body to recover its fertility.
“Any natural function of the body, when suppressed, can atrophy – such is the case if a woman has been on the Pill for, say, 16 years,” she said.
She added, however, that for some, fertility returns soon after ceasing contraceptives.
“The cervix produces mucus to keep the sperm alive, so if it’s not doing that because it has been put out of action by the Pill”, it is understandable if a woman can’t get pregnant, “even if she’s ovulating beautifully”.
Each case is different. There are some women who, at 25 and having never been on the Pill, have trouble achieving pregnancy. The Billings chart can also help detect the problem in this scenario, Mrs Corkill said.