10 REASONS TO INTEGRATE CYCLEBEADS® INTO FAMILY PLANNING PROGRAMS
CycleBeads® helps women and couples use the Standard Days Method®, a highly-effective, inexpensive and modern family planning method.
Developed by Georgetown University's Institute for Reproductive Health, CycleBeads helps women plan or prevent pregnancy by tracking their menstrual cycles and identifying their fertile days.
214 MILLION women GLOBALLY want to avoid pregnancy but are not using a modern method of family planning.
EVERY YEAR more than 85 MILLION unplanned pregnancies occur worldwide.
1 in 4 WOMEN in sub-Saharan Africa do not want to become pregnant in the next 2 years but are not using a modern method.
Side Effects / Health Concerns
Most women who choose CycleBeads do so because it is side-effect-free. CycleBeads has no negative health consequences.
CycleBeads encourages men and women to talk about family planning. The method overcomes many religious and cultural concerns about family planning.
CycleBeads identifies when a woman is fertile so she can avoid unprotected intercourse on those days. It helps facilitate negotiation of condom use with partners.
When used correctly and consistently – and most users do so – this method is 95% effective. In typical use it is 88% effective. See contraceptive failure rates of user-directed methods in the table below.
More choice = more likely to find a method. Adding a new method like CycleBeads to the existing method mix can raise contraceptive prevalence.
* Contraceptive Prevalence Rate in India increased from 24% to 41% over a 4-year period during a community-based reproductive health pilot project in Uttar Pradesh.
* Contraceptive Prevalence Rate in El Salvador increased from 45% to 58% over a 2-year project during a pilot program aimed at involving men by integrating family planning into water and sanitization activities.
This graph demonstrates previous method use by clients who chose the Standard Days Method (CycleBeads) after it was integrated into programs in India, Peru, and Rwanda. The majority of CycleBeads users were new to modern family planning use.
CycleBeads does not "siphon off" users of other modern methods. The vast majority of CycleBeads users are those who have never used family planning before.
Some initial CycleBeads users eventually switch to other modern methods, suggesting that offering CycleBeads opens the door to family planning for many women. In addition, CycleBeads has brought back to family planning women who have dropped out of using other modern methods due to side effects.
Cost of family planning method per user for the first year of use. (see graph)
Studies in Guatemala, India, and Rwanda found that CycleBeads was more cost effective than other birth-spacing methods, including condoms and oral contraceptives. It is easy to train providers to offer CycleBeads whether at a facility or within the community. It takes as little as two hours to learn it and be able to instruct others.
Time needed to counsel users (e.g., how to manage the fertile period) is equivalent to other methods. It is an inexpensive, low-maintenance addition to family planning programs. Once a client has a set of CycleBeads, there is no need for re-supply. In fact, there is no need for clients to return for follow-up unless they choose to do so. CycleBeads are inexpensive and available through the USAID, UNFPA, and directly from the manufacturer - Cycle Technologies.
There is an array of community organizations and faith-based institutions that are educating women and couples about family planning by offering CycleBeads to their constituencies. Even community groups outside the health sector can offer SDM while referring for other methods.
While the majority of women who use CycleBeads throughout the world do not choose it primarily based on religious reasons, Catholic, Muslim and Protestant organizations find that this method is an appropriate and simple way to discuss reproductive health and family planning. This opens the door for a transformation of community norms about family planning, even in conservative settings.
Studies show that pharmacy sales clerks can provide CycleBeads. Because there is less interaction than with a clinic-based provider, clients rely more on printed information received with their CycleBeads. However, they are just as able to understand how to use the method as women who received counseling from a family planning provider.
Women can also use this method through a free smartphone app. The CycleBeds app is the first smartphone app that enables a woman to plan or prevent pregnancy using this method. It is available on iPhone and Android. The app screens potential users, helps a woman track her cycles, tracks that her cycles stay in the appropriate range for use, and lets her know when her fertile days occur based on the method.
In partnership with PSI, CycleBeads® have successfully reached women in need of family planning through social marketing. Study results demonstrate the potential for selling CycleBeads through pharmacies and small shops in several countries across Africa.
Evidence confirms that CycleBeads can be a successful socially marketed product, and women are able to use the method correctly even when purchasing CycleBeads from a pharmacy. Innovative use of communication technologies such as mobile phones extends the reach of SDM even further.
Women's Empowerment Indicators Pre- and Post-CYCLEBEADS Introduction (India)
A community survey conducted in India after CycleBeads introduction yielded improvement in indicators of women's empowerment, as illustrated by the graphs.
User experience suggests that CycleBeads use is empowering for many women. They report that knowledge about their bodies and menstrual cycles and being able to prevent unwanted pregnancies has increased their self-confidence and their ability to care for their health. In many cases, this has made it possible for women to talk openly with their husbands about how to manage the fertile days to avoid pregnancy
Bias—usually rooted in misinformation—often means unfair criticism or dismissive attitudes toward a worthwhile innovation. This is true of fertility awareness-based methods of family planning, including CycleBeads. Although CycleBeds is increasingly included in programs and even scaled up in several countries, this innovative method has not reached its full potential to meet the needs of women and couples. Lack of accurate information and misapplied bias against fertility awareness-based methods continue to limit its availability.
No family planning method is right for all women and couples. That is why having a wide variety of methods permits clients to choose the method that works best for them. Women whose menstrual cycles are irregular (i.e. fall outside the range of 26-32 days), or couples who find it difficult to avoid unprotected intercourse during the fertile days should not use CycleBeads. For example, women whose partners are prone to excessive alcohol use or domestic violence should consider another method. Even with that proviso, CycleBeads is an excellent choice for the large number of women and couples who wish to avoid pregnancy by using a simple, inexpensive and natural method with no side effects.