Washington, DC — Couples who use fertility awareness-basedmethods of family planning have sex just as often as couples who useother contraceptive methods -- they just time it differently, accordingto a new Georgetown University Institute for Reproductive Health studyto be published in a forthcoming edition of the Journal of BiosocialScience.
The study is now available online on the journal’swebsite. Fertility awareness-based methods, such as theInstitute-developed Standard Days Method® and TwoDay Method, are alsoknown as natural methods of family planning.
These methodsenable women to identify the days of the cycle when they are mostfertile. During these fertile days couples should avoid unprotectedintercourse if they do not want to become pregnant.
“Becausethose who use natural family planning methods need to avoid unprotectedsex for several days each month, many people believe that these methodsrequire great self control. This is simply not the case. This studyconfirms that couples using natural family planning have intercoursejust as frequently as couples using other methods,” notes Institute forReproductive Health Director Victoria Jennings, Ph.D. Jennings is ananthropologist who studies health behavior and culture change and is aprofessor of obstetrics and gynecology at Georgetown University MedicalCenter.
Use of fertility-based awareness methods stronglyinfluences the timing of sexual activity, report study authors IritSinai, Ph.D. and Marcos Arevalo, M.D., both assistant professors ofobstetrics and gynecology. They found that couples who use fertilityawareness-based methods of family planning to prevent pregnancy engagein more frequent sex before and after the fertile time, and have lesssex during fertile days. Frequency of intercourse over the course ofthe women’s cycle is comparable to those of couples using other methodsof family planning.
“It’s important that the healthcarecommunity let women know that these methods are available, growing inpopularity, and that users continue to be satisfied with them. Ifcouples using fertility-awareness based family planning methods werehaving less sex, this would probably not be the case,” said Dr.Arevalo, the Institute’s director of biomedical research.
Inearlier field trials Institute researchers determined the efficacy ofthe Standard Days Method and of the TwoDay Method to be to be greaterthan 95 percent and 96 percent respectively when used correctly, makingthem more effective than the condom or diaphragm. The Standard DaysMethod is for women with cycles between 26 and 32 days long. To use themethod effectively, women can use a visual tool called CycleBeads® tomonitor their cycle days and identify the days when pregnancy is mostlikely (days 8 through 19). The TwoDay Method is for women with anycycle length and to use it effectively, users note the presence orabsence of cervical secretions; they then avoid unprotected sex on anyday with secretions as well as the following day. Additionalinformation on fertility awareness-based family planning can be foundon the Institute’s website, www.irh.org .
The Institute for Reproductive Health is dedicated to helping womenand men make informed choices about family planning and providing themwith simple and effective natural options. As part of GeorgetownUniversity’s School of Medicine, the Institute conducts research todevelop natural methods of family planning and test them in servicedelivery settings.
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