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Fertility Awareness: Rhythm Method

How does it work to prevent pregnancy?
A woman identifies the days each menstrual cycle when sex is most likely to result in pregnancy and then avoids having sex on the days she thinks she might get pregnant.

How effective is it in preventing pregnancy?
25 in 100 couples typically experience a pregnancy in the first year of using this method. This varies widely on how well a woman was taught to practice the method, how exact she tracks her biological signs, and how strictly she and her partner are in abstaining/using an alternate form of birth control during her fertile time.

How effective is it in preventing STDs?
NOT effective at all! If a person has sex, condoms must ALSO be used to reduce the risk of STDs and HIV.

Other Things to Know about the Rhythm Method:

Advantages:

  • Increases a woman’s knowledge of her cycle
  • Some couples like the active involvement of the male partner in the process

Disadvantages:

  • Works best for women with very regular periods—but many people (including teens) often have irregular periods
  • Lack of the male partner’s cooperation can be a great risk for pregnancy
  • A teen’s relationship may not be stable or committed enough to develop the trust and cooperation needed for this method to be effective
  • It can be challenging to interpret your body’s signs (e.g., changes in mucous, body temperature, orientation of the cervix)
  • It can take many months of training and record keeping before a woman or couple can try to use the method

Acknowledgements: This fact sheet was adapted from PlannedParenthood.org, a website that provides education about reproductive and sexual health.

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