Using a condom correctly is difficult according to a recent study in the journal Sexual Health. Led by the Kinsey Institute Condom Use Research Team, the study compared 50 research articles across multiple countries and found that incorrect use of condoms is prevalent and causing unintended pregnancies and infections.
Natural family planning, fertility awareness, natural birth control, FAB, FAM - chances are you have heard these terms thrown around and may only have a vague idea of what they mean. All of these are terms used to describe basically the same thing - a set of practices that enable a woman to plan or prevent pregnancy by identifying when she is fertile during her cycle.
Some people consider "natural family planning" to be a term specific to family planning methods that are advocated by the Catholic Church. And a few go even further and define it as a way only to conceive children. But most people consider natural family planning to be a broader term that can be used interchangeably with fertility awareness, natural birth control, etc.
So what are the different natural family planning methods?
We are thrilled to be launching iCycleBeads™ Online and our redesigned website! iCycleBeads Online is the only web app in the world based on the Standard Days Method® of family planning. A user receives a private internet account where she can easily track the days of her cycles, know if she is on a day when pregnancy is possible or not, determine that her cycles are in range and continue to be in range for using this natural family planning method effectively, and maintain her cycle history. To use iCycleBeads Online a woman tracks the date her period starts each month; she is not required to track other in-depth fertility symptoms for use.
In a recent TEDTalk, Melinda Gates eloquently outlined why contraception should not be considered a "controversial" topic and the importance of giving people everywhere access to a full range of family planning options. Thank you Ms. Gates, for your willingness to lend your voice to this important issue... And of course, we were thrilled that CycleBeads were included among the full range of family planning options!
Studies show that while the pill is the most commonly used contraceptive method in many countries*, a significant percentage of women discontinue its use, primarily due to side effects and health concerns. Women who discontinue using a contraceptive method put themselves at risk of an unintended pregnancy and need to be counseled or educate themselves on effective, viable birth control alternatives.
When Guli Fager started her job as a sexual health educator for university students in Texas, she was shocked to learn how little they knew. While most students had basic knowledge about contraception, they had minimal understanding of reproductive processes and sexual health issues. Her concern grew when she realized that not only were the students generally uninformed, they were often misinformed. She decided to focus on the question, “What is healthy sexual health development?” and how could she convey this question and the answers to the students through programs at the university health center.
“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:
While unplanned pregnancies among teens in the U.S. is at the lowest rate in years, American teenagers are still getting pregnant at a much higher rate than their counterparts in other countries – 3x more often than teens in Germany and France, and 4x more often than teens in the Netherlands. In 2010, unplanned pregnancies among U.S. teens dropped to 34.3 births per 1,000 girls aged 15-19 according to the most recent health statistics. That’s great news, but it’s still the highest teen pregnancy rate among developed nations.
As mentioned in a previous article on family planning in the Philippines, birth control and sex education in this Catholic country can be difficult to come by. To combat this problem, one city started requiring family planning courses for all couples planning to get married. In Marakina City engaged couples attend courses on responsible parenting and go to a health center to discuss their birth control options. There they are offered a full range of family planning options from hormonal methods to natural methods such as the Standard Days Method™ using CycleBeads®. The couples receive their preferred contraceptive option free of charge from the city through donations from the United Nations Population Fund, the Department of Health, and other donors. After the couples are married, Family Health volunteers visit their homes to answer questions and provide support.
The following are just a couple of their stories…
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?