We occasionally hear the question “isn't CycleBeads just the rhythm method?" The answer is NO. CycleBeads, and the Standard Days Method on which it is based, are very different from the so-called “rhythm method”, a method which is vaguely understood, not well defined, confusing to use, and largely untested.
The confusion most likely comes from the fact that CycleBeads and the rhythm method are both considered “calendar-based natural family planning methods”. That is where the similarities end.
First, let's define "the rhythm method". When asked to explain what the rhythm method is, most people will have a vague idea that it involves not having sex during certain days of your cycle when you think you could get pregnant. When asked which days of a woman's cycle those days might be, some respondents have a general idea that it is around the middle of the woman’s menstrual cycle, but most cannot say with accuracy.
Believe it or not, there are actual “rules” to using the rhythm method, but these “rules” are not well defined and vary from one source to another. These “rules” typically involve several calculations that take into account the last 6 cycles that a woman has had, she then subtracts some number (17, 18, or 19) from the shortest of her last 6 cycles and a different number (10, 11 or 12) from her longest cycle, to determine a "fertile window". Unfortunately these formulas have not been tested, so there is no clear evidence of how effective these calculations may be. What is clear is that these calculations are confusing and that many people make mistakes while using them.
The problems with the rhythm method are numerous:
1) It is not well defined or understood.
2) It involves extensive record keeping which is impractical for most people.
3) It involves several calculations on which it is easy to make mistakes.
4) It has not been tested or evaluated in any rigorous scientific studies.
So how is CycleBeads different?
CycleBeads, based on the Standard Days Method of family planning, is clearly defined and understood, it is simple to use, it has been extensively tested, and it is proven to be more than 95% effective at preventing pregnancy*. It is based on a fixed formula which simply says that when a woman has cycles between 26 and 32 days long**, she should consider that she is fertile on days 8 through 19 of her cycle.
That’s it. No confusing calculations. No vague "rules". No tracking months and months of data. CycleBeads is clearly defined, easy to use, easy to teach, and a highly effective natural family planning method.