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Standard Days Method Overview

Contraception seems to be the prerogative of women in many countries of the world. They are likely to use birth control methods more often than men. Even if a man and a woman make a mutual decision not to conceive a baby, the realization of their plans is often left for a woman; thus, the latter is responsible not only for giving birth to children, but for postponing this event as well.

Thanks to the painstaking work of the researchers, women have nowadays quite a variety of different contraceptives, so everyone can choose the most appropriate and comfortable one. Furthermore, scientists keep on working on the development of the new methods, in case the existing ones do not meet all the needs.

Standard Days Method (SDM) is the example of one of the new birth control options, which belongs to natural family planning. It was developed by the scientists at the Institute for Reproductive Health, Georgetown University School of Medicine.

This method of birth control is based on the awareness of the fertile days in the menstrual cycle of a woman. It aims at avoiding the unprotected sexual intercourse during the period when a woman is the most likely to conceive.

The researchers concluded that if a woman’s menstrual cycle lasts for 26-32 days, the most fertile period is between days 8-19 of the cycle. Therefore, during this time a woman or her partner should use some other type of pregnancy prevention, or abstain from sex altogether.

Between days 1-7 (day 1 is the first day of the periods) and days 20-32 a woman is not likely to become pregnant, so she can enjoy the unprotected sex.

The effectiveness of SDM is 95% if the method is used correctly, consistently, and regularly. However, statistics say that failure rate can grow up to 22% if:

-         a woman has irregular periods;

-         woman’s menstrual cycles are shorter than 26 or longer than 32 days;

-         the method is used incorrectly.

Women, whose cycles can shift due to stress, fatigue, or any illness, as well as breastfeeding women, are poor candidates for the use of the SDM.

However, this method of family planning has notable advantages:

-         it is easy to learn and follow;

-         it is cost-effective;

-         it has no side effects many contraceptives can cause;  

-         it is absolutely reversible;

-         in general, SDM seems to be a very comfortable option of birth control.

The existence of the so-called CycleBeads makes SDM even easier to follow. CycleBeads are a chain of 32 beads of different colors. One bead is red – it marks the first day of the periods, the day to start following the SDM. Brown beads signify the days when a woman is not likely to become pregnant. White beads, on the contrary, warn about the danger of conceiving.

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CycleBeads also have a rubber ring, which should be placed around the bead defining the day of the menstrual cycle a woman is at. This visual aid helps to be aware of the possibility to have the unprotected sexual intercourse.

On the other hand, SDM has a number of disadvantages. For example, it does not protect from the sexually transmitted diseases; its failure rate is higher than that of some contraceptives; women with irregular periods cannot use it; it is possible for a woman to start practicing this method only after thorough studying of her menstrual cycles. These weak-points, however, seem only minor inconveniences for those couples, who cannot use other birth control methods for cultural, religious, or health reasons.


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