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Long Term Effects Found in Simple Family Planning Method

Pregnancy health (CDC)

(U.S. Centers for Disease Control)

Women who used a simple method for family planning were found to continue using the method for two years after the first year of adoption. The research team from Georgetown University Medical Center and Population Reference Bureau in Washington, D.C. published their findings online in the Journal of Family Planning & Reproductive Health Care (paid subscription required).

The Standard Days Method identifies the 12-day “fertile window” of a woman’s menstrual cycle that accounts for the life span of the woman’s egg (about 24 hours) and the viable life of sperm (about five days). The method also factors in variation in the actual timing of ovulation from one cycle to the next.

A study in 2002 showed that the Standards Days Method was effective for short-term (one year) family planning. The researchers then found the method was than 95 percent effective at avoiding pregnancy, with a failure rate of less than 5 percent, a rate higher than other use-directed methods such as diaphragm or condom.

To help women keep track of their fertility cycles, Georgetown’s Institute for Reproductive Health developed a tool called CycleBeads, a string of 32 color-coded beads with each bead representing a day of the menstrual cycle. Georgetown has patented CycleBeads and licensed the technology to Cycle Technologies of Washington, D.C. for product development and marketing.

The new study, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, examined the long-term use of the Standard Days Method, following the participants for three years. Some 1,659 women in multiple countries who took part in the original one-year evaluation of the method were followed for two more years. The study determined their continued use of the method, intended and unintended pregnancies, and reasons for discontinuation.

“Almost all the 2011 study participants had children, often with at least one child younger than two years old, before they began to use the Standard Days Method,” says James Gribble of the Population Reference Bureau and senior author of the paper. “Yet few of the study participants,” Gribble added, “had unplanned pregnancy over the three-year period of the study due to the method’s very high effectiveness.”

Read more: Stanford Univ. Licenses IVF Technology

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