Don’t like condoms? Cringe at the thought of exposing your body to a daily hormonal treatment? According to recent tests, there may be a safe, all-natural method to avoid conception with your partner.
According to the Dawn Stacey M.Ed, LMHC Contraception blog on About.com, "14 pilot studies around the world, family planning associations, ministries of health, and community development organizations studied the Standard Days Method (SDM), a fertility awareness method of birth control." Surprisingly, the study of 1,646 women showed that SDM is effective in preventing pregnancy more than 85 percent of the time, which is consistent with the generally accepted 88 percent that was previously established.
Essentially, the program calls for couples to abstain from unprotected sex from day 9 to 18 of the cycle—apparently disproving my ninth grade sex ed teacher’s theory that the rhythm method is about as reliable as pulling out. But while I’m certainly intrigued by this method of safe sex, I can hardly keep track of my deadlines—much less my ovulation cycle.
Of course, Georgetown University has already thought of that. For less than $15, a product called Cycle Beads offers a simple, cheap and effective way to keep track of your cycle and prevent unwanted pregnancy.
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"They are a string of 32 color-coded beads, with each bead representing a day of a woman’s menstrual cycle. They have a black rubber ring that the woman moves one bead each day in the direction of the arrow. When the woman starts her period, she puts the ring on the first bead, which is red. She continues moving the ring one bead each day of her cycle. When the ring is on a dark bead, she is on a day in her cycle when she can have intercourse without getting pregnant. But when she in on a day represented by the white beads, she may be fertile and could get pregnant if she has unprotected intercourse."
So what to do about those pesky white-bead days when you feel the urge? Dr. Stacey says that using SDM actually helped increase the probability of sex being safe during the time when the woman is fertile because it "allows for increased male involvement as it encourages men to abstain or use condoms during fertile days, obtaining condoms and helping their wives keep track of her fertile days."
I don’t know if I’m brave enough to leave my risk of pregnancy up to a colorful string of beads, but it certainly represents a viable alternative for married women across the world—especially those who can’t afford disposable options.