We’ve heard it all… Is this jewelry? Should I wear CycleBeads® around my neck? Are these rosary beads? And even a few responses that aren’t quite fit for print.

So why did we decide to use beads to help women use the Standard Days Method® of family planning?


When researchers first developed the Standard Days Method of family planning, they immediately realized that while the method is relatively simple, the information contained in the method was complex and it needed to be communicated clearly. How to do this?

Beads were actually the first option discussed.

For much of human existence and in cultures all over the world, beads have been used to count, tally property, trade for goods, and record information. It was a natural fit! CycleBeads was created.


  • They are universally recognized.
  • They are relatively inexpensive to create.
  • They can convey a lot of information in a simple, attractive way.


CycleBeads were created to help a woman use the Standard Days Method of family planning. The Standard Days Method is a fertility awareness family planning method that relies on keeping track of your period and knowing if you are on a potentially fertile or non-fertile day.



  • makes it easy to remember key days.
  • ensures that users won’t make mistakes calculating.
  • helps a woman track her cycle length so she’ll know that her cycles are in the range for using this method.
  • gives a user a visual tool that she can use to communicate with her partner.

What other ideas did we consider?


Sounds simple. The Standard Days Method is technically a “calendar-based” family planning method so shouldn’t a woman just be able to use a calendar? The answer is that a woman could use a calendar, but it is easier to make mistakes. Using a calendar solely makes it much more likely that someone will miscount either her cycle length or the day of her cycle that she is on.


We loved the idea of creating a futuristic looking dial that could be used to track this information. Prototypes were made and we still have them in our office. But the dial made the method overly complicated and, frankly, expensive too. And let’s be honest…what looked futuristic 5 years ago, already looks a little dated today.


What do people look at often to keep track of time? A clock was the obvious answer. So we designed a prototype of a wall clock with an extra feature – a series of color-coded notches around the edge and a marker that moved one notch per day. But this proved to be confusing and expensive. People had difficulty relating a clock that shows hours and minutes to a feature that tracks days.


After all this, we came back to the beads and realized that we had a product that filled a lot of needs. As one product designer we talked to said, “When you have something that is such an elegant solution, why would you spend energy trying to recreate the wheel?”

And while we agree that CycleBeads is an “elegant solution”, new technologies such as smartphones and other mobile devices give us exciting, new ways to offer this method. We embrace that CycleBeads are a fantastic solution for conveying complex information, and we continue to look at new ways to offer this family planning method while still using the many benefits of “the bead idea”. With that in mind, iCycleBeads is already available on iPhone and Android devices, and new innovations are coming soon!

Posted in: CycleBeads, mHealth, Natural Birth Control, Research, Technology

Tags: CycleBeads, family planning beads, family planning tool, fertility beads, ovulation beads, the standard days method

1 comment for "Family Planning with Beads?"

EmmyG says:

I’ve used the beads, but admit I rely on the app now since I got it a couple months ago. Great method – one baby planned and no babies when I didn’t plan them!

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