In a recent article on the Huffington Post, “Just Say ‘Yes’ to Access for Women’s Reproductive Health, Contraception”, Dr. Glenn Braunstein makes several good points about why increasing access to preventative services for women, including contraception, is important. Furthermore he says in the article that “No single form of birth control will do if we want to ensure optimal health for women, a serious reduction in the number of unintended pregnancies, and maximum effectiveness of contraception.”
We were thrilled to the see the Standard Days Method of family planning included in the article as an option to help address the need. But, there were a few items in the article related to this family planning method that should be clarified:
1) The method is used with the visual tool CycleBeads or with a smartphone app called iCycleBeads. The visual tool CycleBeads resembles a necklace (not a bracelet as mentioned in the article) and the smartphone app uses a visual that represents a set of CycleBeads.
2) The efficacy rate for the Standard Days Method is +95%. The article cites the “typical use” failure rate of 12% which is accurate though sometimes confusing when most people are used to seeing the correct use efficacy rates for family planning options. The article outlined typical use failure rates for other methods too such as condoms (15%) and sterilization/IUD’s (1%), but did not specify the typical use failure rate for the pill (8%). If you want to see a comparison of efficacy rates for most user-directed methods check out our post on Birth Control Effectiveness: How Risky is Your Birth Control? or see the chart below.
3) The article incorrectly says that for teens using the Standard Days Method, “the failure rate is as high as 31%”, but then links to an article on withdrawal. Teens can use the Standard Days Method if they have cycles that are generally in the 26-32 day range and are able to plan for what they will do on their fertile days. If a teen meets this criteria, the method should be +95% effective - just as effective for her as it is for the general population. Of course, some would argue that many teens shouldn’t be using a fertility awareness method at all either because their cycles are not yet regular or because they can’t plan for fertile days.
Again, while we want to ensure that the facts are straight on the Standard Days Method, Dr. Braunstein’s main points are valid:
“Math and science have shown that access to education and contraception results in healthier women, fewer abortions, healthier pregnancies and healthier newborns. If that improvement in human life isn’t compelling enough, the savings in cold hard cash also argues not only for birth control but also for as much as we can do for the better health and well-being of women.”