Last month Student Wellness put on a fabulous event called “Orgasm? Yes Please!”. This event provided sexual health information on topics like anatomy, pleasure, communication and more to UNC students. The night of the event, we asked you all what questions you had. Student Wellness was thrilled to receive so many excellent questions about sexual health! Since there were so many questions asked, we will have several blog entries dedicated to answering lingering questions. During OYP, you asked, “What’s the rhythm method?”, and in this blog post we’ll talk about the answer.
What’s the rhythm method?
The rhythm method is one of the oldest approaches to natural planning and fertility awareness methods, which also include temperature and cervical mucus methods. These fertility awareness methods are all based on the idea of monitoring the body to predict when a woman is most likely to ovulate, or become pregnant.
In the rhythm method, women track their menstruation cycles to predict their ovulation periods, and the times they are most likely to conceive. Armed with this information about their bodies, women can become more cognizant of their reproductive decisions. For example, if a woman wishes to get pregnant, the rhythm method can help her determine the best days to have sex. Conversely, if a woman wishes to avoid pregnancy, the rhythm method can help her determine the days to avoid vaginal intercourse or utilize other pregnancy prevention methods (i.e., condoms, cervical cap, sponges, spermicides).
Advantages and Disadvantages
Women chose the rhythm method for a variety of reasons. For example, this method is relatively inexpensive (all you really need is a calendar) and are very safe to use. Additionally, for women who prefer not to utilize hormone-based methods (due to fear of side effects, cost, religious beliefs, or other reasons), calendar-based methods may provide some protection against pregnancy.
However, the rhythm method does have some sizable disadvantages. First, the method requires some diligence and discipline in order to work. For those using the method to avoid pregnancy, the risk of unintended pregnancy is higher compared to many other methods of birth control. In the first year of typical use, an estimated 13 to 25 out of 100 women who practice the rhythm method will get pregnant. Women using the method to avoid pregnancy are encouraged to utilize other pregnancy prevention methods – including other fertility awareness methods (cervical mucus method, temperature method) and barrier methods — to increase the effectiveness.
It is also important to note that the rhythm method does not protect individuals and their partners from sexually transmitted infections (STIs). To protect against STIs, barrier methods, such as condoms, should be used.
To learn more about the rhythm method please see the resources below:
- Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/rhythm-method/MY01003
- Planned Parenthood: http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/birth-control/fertility-awareness-4217.htm
If you’re wondering which birth control method is right for you:
- Read about your options on the Women’s Health Tutorial
- See our blog post on selecting birth control options or
- Schedule a visit with a Sexual Wellness Specialists (formerly CHECS)!
Rhythm method for natural family planning. (2012, December 17). Mayo Clinic . Retrieved September 28, 2012, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/rhythm-method/MY01003