CycleBeads Myth: It keeps women from using “more effective” family planning methods.
This is a statement we occasionally hear from health providers who are concerned that a natural method like CycleBeads will be so attractive to potential users that they may decide to use it instead of a method that the provider considers “more effective”.
The Truth: First we want to point out that CycleBeads are highly effective and that the only family planning methods more effective than CycleBeads are hormonal options and some “doctor-directed” options such as IUD’s and implants. Also, it is unlikely that a woman who is set on using a hormonal option and has access to it, is going to suddenly change her mind and want to use a natural family planning option. Additionally, there is research that indicates that introducing CycleBeads in a healthcare setting can actually increase contraceptive usage overall and bring new users to family planning.
What about using condoms?
One study showed that when women were counseled on a full range of family planning options and about STD’s, they were far more likely to take condoms with them when they chose to use CycleBeads than when they chose any of the other methods offered. Other studies have shown that simply giving women a full range of options brings more women to family planning and makes the more likely to choose a method.
The most important issue is that women choose a method that is BOTH effective and that works for them in their particular life circumstances. It should be a method that they will use consistently over time. CycleBeads gives women an attractive natural option. It doesn’t stop women from using hormonal methods or other methods if those are a better fit for them.
CycleBeads Top 10 Myths About This Natural Family Planning Method: Myth #10 - Other Birth Control Methods Might Not Get Used
CycleBeads Myth: It keeps women from using “more effective” family planning methods.
CycleBeads Myth: Women will forget to move the ring.
The Truth: Any method that relies on a daily action has the potential for someone to forget to take that action. With the new CycleBeads web and smartphone apps, this is not an issue since a user enters the date of her period and the app automatically lets her know when she is on a fertile day. But in using the CycleBeads physical tool, it is still interesting to note that in clinical trials women were generally able to remember to move the ring with no problem. Most women simply put their CycleBeads in a prominent location where they would see them each day. As a safety check, every set of CycleBeads includes a calendar where a woman can mark the first day of her period and count to double check that the ring is on the right day.
CycleBeads Myth: This method only works if you ovulate on day 14 of your cycle.
This myth often goes hand in hand with the idea that a woman also must have a “perfect” 28 day cycle in order to use this method. Those who think this is true have not looked very closely at how this method works.
The Truth: CycleBeads takes into account the fact that ovulation generally occurs around the midpoint of a woman’s cycle, but that it can move around from one cycle to the next. This is part of the reason that the method identifies 12 days (days 8-19) as days when a woman is potentially fertile. This fertile period takes into account that ovulation occurs around the midpoint of the cycle, but that it can move around by a few days in any given cycle.
Do you have more questions about ovulation? Check out this page with more details about ovulation, what it is, and how it works.
CycleBeads Myth: You can't have sex often using this method.
Many people look at CycleBeads and since they see that there are 12 days that are indicated as fertile days, they think that people must not have much sex when using this method.
The Truth: Let’s be clear. Couples can have sex during the fertile days, but if they don’t want to become pregnant, they should use a back-up method such as condoms. Interestingly research has shown that even when couples using this method are abstaining during the fertile days they have sex just as often as other couples, they just time it differently during a woman’s cycle.
A 2005 study conducted by researchers at Georgetown University’s Institute for Reproductive Health found that couples who use fertility awareness-based methods of family planning and specifically CycleBeads to prevent pregnancy engage in more frequent sex before and after the fertile time, and have less sex during fertile days. Frequency of intercourse over the course of a woman’s entire cycle is comparable to those of couples using other methods of family planning.
You may be surprised to hear that most women have no idea when they can get pregnant. A recent study showed that 2/3 of young adults in the U.S. do not know that women are most fertile around the middle of their cycles (Berger, 2012). In an Australian study, only 16% of women actively seeking fertility treatments could correctly identify which days of their cycles they could get pregnant, despite the fact that most of these women thought that they were targeting the right days to achieve pregnancy. And according to a study by Johns Hopkins researchers, almost 60% of women and 50% of men say it is somewhat likely that they are infertile, without having information from a healthcare provider. Furthermore, the American Infertility Association, says that at least 20% of "perceived infertility" cases are due to mistimed intercourse.
So what is going on? Why are so many women unaware or misinformed about their fertile days? Why do so many people believe they may be infertile? And how can using a simple family planning tool like CycleBeads help reduce the number of anxious couples trying to get pregnant, and the millions of dollars spent on unnecessary fertility treatments? We have a few ideas...
CycleBeads Myth: Men won't use this family planning method.
We hear this a lot especially from health providers working in particularly male dominant social contexts. There is a sense that men in these situations don’t care whether or not their partners get pregnant and/or can’t control themselves if they have to abstain or use a condom.
The Truth: It is true that it's important that both partners agree to use this method in order for it to be successful. However, there have been numerous surprising examples of how interested men actually are in using this method. They are often happy to have a method that won't cause side effects for their female partners and the fact that CycleBeads is a clear visual tool changes the dynamic of a conversation about whether or not it's a good time to have sex or use a condom.
One example of the interest level among men occurred in a program in Benin when CycleBeads were first introduced in that country. There was concern that men in this male dominant and Muslim country might not be willing to use CycleBeads. The health clinics were shocked when men started showing up asking for CycleBeads to take home to their wives. The providers had initially planned to counsel women and thought that they would have to give them the tools to convince their husbands. In fact, they had to change their protocols so that they could counsel the male partners who in turn wanted to explain it to their wives.
CycleBeads Myth: You must have a “perfect regular” 28 day cycle to use this method.
The Truth: CycleBeads are designed for women with cycles between 26 and 32 days long. This means that women using this method could have cycles that vary by as much as a week in length from one cycle to the next, and still be good candidates for using this method. In developing this family planning method, the researchers first looked at data from the World Health Organization to determine the length of most women’s cycles. They found that 80% of cycles are in this 26-32 day range. So, you don’t have to have a “perfect 28 day cycle”. You just have to have a cycle that is in the 26-32 day range – which most women do.
Posted in: CycleBeads
CycleBeads Top 10 Myths About This Natural Family Planning Method: Myth #4 - It's Only for Certain Types of People
CycleBeads Myth: This is just for Catholics or other religious people
The Truth: While this method may appeal to people who have religious or cultural reasons for wanting to use a natural family planning method, most CycleBeads users do not use CycleBeads for religious reasons. According to our ongoing surveys, the vast majority of women who choose to use this family planning method do so to “avoid side effects”. “avoid specific health risks” and “lead a healthy lifestyle”. Learn more about the reasons women use CycleBeads according to our most recent survevy, “Why Do Women Choose CycleBeads for Contraception? Survey Results Are In!”
CycleBeads Myth: This is just the rhythm method
We hear this claim a lot. Most often we hear it from people who "don't believe" that natural family planning works. We also hear it from people who advocate for other fertility awareness-based methods and think that the term "natural family planning" only applies to the practice of tracking your secretions, temperature, and other signs of fertility.
The Truth: CycleBeads and the Standard Days Method on which it is based are very different from “the rhythm method”. While people often use the term “the rhythm method” disparagingly to describe natural family planning methods in general, this is not accurate. Technically, the rhythm method is an algorithm that requires a woman to track her cycle for 6 months and then do complex calculations to figure out which days in her current cycle she is likely to get pregnant. Further, there are a variety of formulas that have been used for this calculation, but none have ever been tested in well-designed efficacy tests. Needless to say, it’s a complex, vague calculation that has never been well studied and means a lot of different things to different people. The Standard Days Method is based on a standard algorithm that has been well researched and tested and is used the same way every cycle. It is included in the World Health Organization's family planning guidance documents, in numerous family planning guidelines, and in modern reference books for family planning health professionals under "fertility awareness methods". See more in this earlier article, “CycleBeads is Not the Rhythm Method”.
CycleBeads Myth: No one wants to use a family planning option like this.
In general, most people who claim that “no one wants to use this method” assume that people don’t want to use a natural family planning method at all. Occasionally they may be referring to the fact that the original CycleBeads tool is a color-coded string of beads and that somehow this is “too different” from what people think of when they think of family planning. Well we have a surprise for them.
Studies show that 1 in 5 women are very interested in using a natural family planning method when they are given good information about these methods in the context of a full range of family planning options. And while CycleBeads may be quirky to some, this unique tool has been used by more than 2.5 million worldwide, and 75,000 women in the US alone to plan or prevent pregnancy. Of course while the initial CycleBeads tool is still eye-catching and useful, many women are starting to use digital tools such as CycleBeads Online and the iCycleBeads smartphone apps.
"I am a women's health graduate student in Boston and a classmate who works in the family planning field shared the joys of CycleBeads. I began using my CycleBeads not for family planning but to track the symptoms of my disease, endometriosis. Because of a blood clot on my lungs last summer I am no longer able to take hormonal birth control. Now, with CycleBeads I am able to know when my symptoms (specifically pain) are worse. I am grateful to CycleBeads for helping me navigate this new path of my journey with endometriosis."