In an analysis of participants in the SmartLoving Engaged Online course, startling results have emerged regarding the couples’ intentions regarding Fertility Awareness Methods (FAMs). When asked at the conclusion of the course, “Are you willing to use Fertility Awareness Methods to manage your fertility?” 58% replied ‘Yes’. A further 35% returned a ‘Maybe’ leaving a mere 6% flat ‘No’ after excluding those who were post menopause or infertile.

In other words, 93% were receptive to using a FAM to manage their fertility.

This extraordinary outcome is the result of the adaptation of the Total Gift of Self series by Francine & Byron Pirola for the online environment. Included as one of nine lessons in the SmartLoving course for engaged couples, it incorporates 33 mins of video explanation with couple activities and discussion questions.

“Having worked in natural fertility for over twenty years, we are tremendously encouraged by these results”, says author Francine Pirola.

“We have always been evangelical about FAMs, and have focused our efforts of trying to find new ways of reaching the youngest generation of couples, who do not have the same resistance and distrust of older generations. While we have been using the Total Gift of Self series in our marriage education work since 1998, until now, it’s been very hard to measure its impact. With the adaption to the online environment, we now are generation massive amounts of data that can be easily analysed. While we know the course is powerful, we were expecting the results we got – it really is a stunning outcome and it has galvanized us to start thinking about what is needed next.”

The question now is: where or how will these graduates get trained to use a FAM?

To date, they have been taking advantage of teaching centres in their local area but from 2018 they will be able to learn to use a FAM online from within the SmartLoving platform. The course is presently in the design stages and will be launched in 2018 as part of the Humanae Vitae 50th anniversary commemorations. The course will in due course be supported by a charting app to make the experience of learning FAMs and using them as easy and seamless as possible.

Access “A Total Gift of Self Online” as a stand-alone course

Due to the success of the online adaption of the booklet and DVD, the ‘lesson’ has been launched as a stand-alone online course available to anyone interested. Completed in approximately 1.5 hours, the course provides: an introduction to fertility, an explanation of several modern methods (Billings Ovulation Method, the Sympto-Thermal Method, Creighton Fertility Care), an exploration of the teachings of the Church and a discussion of the FAM life-style. The course also addresses infertility and provides links to teachings centres throughout the world.

To find out more or enrol, visit

Data from the Analysis

In a sample size of 400, graduates of the course were given the following choices to the question: “Are you willing to use Fertility Awareness Methods to manage your fertility?”

Non RC
Yes, we already use it 19% 21% 13%
Yes, we want to learn how 22% 21% 22%
Yes, but not till a bit later 18% 19% 16%
I would use FAMs if we had infertility issues 7% 8% 5%
Maybe, I’m open to it 27% 25% 32%
No, I don’t think this would work for us 6% 4% 10%
Doesn’t apply (eg post-menopause, infertile) 2% 1% 3%

Graduates are predominately from Australia and UK, with smaller numbers from other, mainly English-speaking countries. 27% are not Catholic

A Total Gift of Self Fast Facts

  • Over 50,000 print copies
  • Reprinted 5 times
  • Approx 10,000 DVD imprints
  • Online launch 2017

A Total Gift of Self Series

“A Total Gift Self” by Francine & Byron Pirola was first published as a booklet in 1998 and has been reprinted five times. The booklet is a contemporary introduction to natural fertility methods that promotes modern methods including the Billings Ovulation Method, the Sympto-Thermal Method, and Creighton Fertility Care.

More than 50,000 copies have been distributed to engaged and married couples throughout Australia, New Zealand, Britain and the United States.

In 2007, a 33 minute, documentary styel DVD was created using professional production standards. Approximately ten thousand copies have been distributed with an estimated viewing in excess of 30,000.

As an integral part of the SmartLoving Engaged course, the online adaptation includes articles derived from the booklet, 33 minutes of DVD instruction, discussion questions and couple activities. Structured over five topics, it takes couples approximately 1.5 hours to complete and helps couples explore their attitudes toward parenting, their fertility values and goals as well as their reactions to the theology underpinning FAMs.

The booklet, DVD and online course, constitute an introduction to fertility awareness but do not equip couples to use a FAM. In 2017 work began on building a fully online learning suite.