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Rhythm method for natural family method

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Synonyms: calendar method, periodic abstinence, fertility awareness, natural family planning.

Rhythm method also known as calendar method is one of those natural family planning methods. Women need to track their menstrual cycles and need to have protected sex during their most fertile period in an attempt to avoid pregnancy. The other way round, women can also try to conceive in this period if they are planning for a baby.

How does it work?

It involves determining the time of ovulation by calculating the days based on previous menstrual cycle. This method is effective only when:

  • The menstrual cycle is regular
  • Women have menstrual cycles from 26-32 days long

If your cycle is shorter than 26 days or longer than 32 days, the rhythm method does not work. You need to abstain from unprotected vaginal intercourse from 8th through 21th day of each cycle if you don’t plan to have a baby. You and your partner can use contraception or a condom to prevent pregnancy.

Since this the most fertile period, chances of conception is high and doctors usually recommend this phase as the best one to conceive a child.

Therefore, you can choose as per your family planning needs.

Apart from this you need to check your body temperature and pattern of cervical mucus to get the best results.

How is the rhythm method or calendar method calculated?

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You need to follow the steps systematically to enhance your success rate:

  • Record the length of menstrual cycles and find number of days in shortest menstrual cycle and longest menstrual cycle.
  • Determine the first fertile day- Subtract 18 from the shortest menstrual cycle. If your shortest cycle is 28 days then subtract 18 from 28, which is 10. This means the 10th day after the period starts is the first fertile day.
  • Determine the last fertile day- Subtract 11 from the longest menstrual cycle. If your longest cycle is 30 days then subtract 11 from 30, which equals to 19. This means the 19th day after your period starts is the last fertile day.

How to prepare for rhythm method or calendar method?  

Tracking the menstrual cycle is easy. However, before resorting to this means of natural family planning, you need to consult your doctor.  Make sure you discuss the following issues and listen to the solution offered:

  • You need to understand the technique correctly
  • Tell your doctor if your menstruation is irregular
  • Let your doctor know if you are taking any medicines or contraceptive pills
  • Tell your doctor if you had delivered a baby recently
  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are heading towards menopause

What is the success rate of the rhythm method or calendar method?

The rhythm method is typically 75% to 87% effective when followed properly

Advantages of rhythm method or calendar method

  • It’s free of cost and utterly simply to follow
  • Once you know the technique correctly, you don’t need to follow up doctor’s appointment
  • It’s a natural method and thereby doesn’t involve use of any external devices to prevent pregnancy

Disadvantages of rhythm method or calendar method

  • It  does not protect against STIs and STDs
  • There may be risks of unwanted pregnancy if one miscalculates the days
  • Prediction of fertile period can be inaccurate under stress and illness

We suggest you to plan your sex after considering your health conditions and menstrual cycles. Consult with your doctor to know if you are the right candidate for the rhythm method of family planning.

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Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: January 17, 2015