Melanie & Levan in their school canteen with CycleBeads.

A True Partnership

Melanie and Levan are happy. Married for years, and co-owners of a school canteen in the Phillipines’ Marakina City, this husband and wife are partners in every sense of the word. Together, they raise three children, manage a business and even collaborate on family planning.

While family planning is often considered a woman’s job, Melanie and Levan take a shared responsibility for birth control. Two years ago, they were introduced to a natural family planning method, the Standard Days Method®, through a citywide birth control outreach program.

“We are grateful to Erline (the city outreach worker) for introducing us to CycleBeads® (the visual tool that helps one use the Standard Days Method),” says Melanie.

Melanie & Erline who introduced her to CycleBeads.Birthcontrol and sex education in the Philippines are sometimes hard to come by. As a predominantly Catholic nation, hormonal birth control is not encouraged by the church and sexual education is not mandated in schools. To combat this problem, Marakina City implemented required family planning courses for all engaged couples. After courses on responsible parenting, couples must attend a health center to discuss their birth control options. The full range of options is offered. The couples’ preferred birth control method is then provided free of charge by the city through donations from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the Department of Health, and other donors. After the marriage, Family Health volunteers visit their home to answer questions and provide support.

Levan and Melanie chose to use CycleBeads. Using the visual tool, the couple can track Melanie’s cycle to see which days she is highly likely to become pregnant if they have unprotected sex, and which days there is a very low risk.

Respecting Each Other

Both Levan and Melanie respect each other’s needs. He is patient during her fertile window, and she indicates when she wants to have intercourse.

Family Health Workers go door to door to ensure couples are using their chosen family planning method.cLevan takes an active role in knowing the “safe” and “unsafe” days. Sometimes he reminds Melanie if she had already moved the ring, but Melanie says, “he makes it a point to discipline himself and not impose on me during my fertile days.”

A lot of his motivation is due to Melanie’s recent difficult delivery. “We are grateful to the beads (for helping us prevent pregnancy),” adds Melanie,” because I almost died giving birth.”

According to the World Health Organization, the maternal rate of mortality in the Philippines is 230 deaths per 100,000 live births. Compared to neighboring Thailand at 110 and Maylasia at 63, the Philippines ranks among the most deadly in the region. Comparatively, the US maternal mortality rate is 9 per 100,000 live births. Family planning proponents suggest a wider use of contraceptives would greatly lower the number of women who die in childbirth in the Philippines.

Working Together for a Strong Future

At work, Levan runs the kitchen and Melanie handles the marketing and finances. Dividing the labor, they work hard to provide for their children. Though they are often worn out at the end of the day, the secret ingredient to this happy partnership is “the anticipation of  happy days – brown bead days ahead”, says Levan, because even if “we are tired from work, we don’t get tired of each other!”

With a joint effort to prevent pregnancy, Levan and Melanie take care of one another and their family, and it shows!

Posted in: CycleBeads, International Family Planning, Men and Family Planning, Natural Birth Control

Tags: birth control, birth control options, birthcontrol, couple communication, CycleBeads, education, family planning, fertile days, male involvement, natural birthcontrol, Philippines, standard days method

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