“It’s birth control, but with a lot of other uses.” - health provider
CycleBeads is an effective birth control option and while preventing pregnancy is the primary use of this family planning tool, health providers have shared a number of other interesting ways it can be used to educate, empower, or simply inform. From helping a woman to achieve a pregnancy to condom counseling, here are a few of the interesting ways that providers are using this family planning tool with their clients:
Using CycleBeads to Plan a Pregnancy
This may be an obvious use for CycleBeads, but how often can you use a birth control method to both prevent pregnancy and to plan a pregnancy? Not surprisingly, if you give women information on when they can get pregnant, they’ll use that information however they like. About 10% of women using CycleBeads tell us that they plan to use them to get pregnant in the next year.
Using CycleBeads to Identify Fertility Problems
20% of fertility problems are due to “mistimed intercourse” according to research from infertility specialists. It’s no wonder providers are using CycleBeads to help patients figure out if they have fertility issues; they want to be sure that their clients are targeting the right days. Of course, keeping track of your cycles and when you have intercourse is also valuable information that can help a health provider identify if there might be underlying fertility problems and CycleBeads is a good tracking tool for doing just that.
Using CycleBeads to Introduce Condoms into a Relationship
During the 12 day fertile window identified by this family planning method, many couples choose to use condoms. In fact, couples are far more likely to use condoms in conjunction with CycleBeads than with other family planning methods according to studies. Health providers have found CycleBeads to be a good way to educate patients on condoms and encourage condom use.
Using CycleBeads with College Students
A number of colleges and universities offer CycleBeads to their students as a family planning method as well as for general education. Check out this recent article profiling one such program at Vanderbilt University where CycleBeads are used as a tool to get college students talking.
Using CycleBeads to Teach Teens About Their Menstrual Cycles
CycleBeads are used by a number of programs offering health care and educational services to teens. These programs usually teach teens about the menstrual cycle, how fertility works, when the “risky times” are, and so on. While most educators agree that fertility awareness-based family planning methods in general are probably not appropriate as a birth control option for most teens for a variety of reasons, using a simple teaching tool like CycleBeads can help a teen understand how her cycle works.
Using CycleBeads for Emergency Contraception Counseling
Some clinicians use CycleBeads to help patients determine whether emergency contraception is necessary when they are requesting it after unprotected intercourse. As one health provider described, “Many women assume that if they have had sex, they need EC. That’s simply not true and we counsel patients to help determine if they are at a time in their cycles when they are high risk for pregnancy before giving them emergency contraception. I’ve had more than a few patients come in freaking out and leave feeling confident that they don’t need EC.”
Using CycleBeads to Reach Special Populations
Many providers use CycleBeads as a way to reach populations that might not otherwise come into their clinics. U.S.-based providers tell us that they’ve used CycleBeads with Mennonite, Amish, Hispanic, Hmong, Somali, and many other groups. As a visual tool it can help facilitate communication and as a natural family planning method, it can appeal to people from a variety of backgrounds.
Using CycleBeads for Peri-Menopausal Women
OK – admittedly we’ve only heard from one health practitioner who is using CycleBeads to counsel peri-menopausal women, but we thought it was a fascinating way to use this tool. The health provider advises women to use CycleBeads to track and record cycles as they are starting to become irregular. She has found that CycleBeads makes the tracking process easier.
These are just a few of the many ways that health providers are using CycleBeads with their patients. Have you used CycleBeads with patients in an interesting way? If so, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us about it.