There are countless benefits to hormonal birth control — from the promise of clearer skin, lighter periods, and less acne, to the potential of regulated moods and an increased cup size.
However, as with any medication, the synthetic hormones in birth control can also trigger debilitating side effects (some even being the exact opposite of what the birth control promised). Unfortunately, other than using condoms and copper IUDs, there aren’t many well-known options for non-hormonal birth control, except for those who choose to use the rhythm method.
For some, the pros of using the rhythm method outweigh any cons, but before making any decisions here’s a breakdown of what the rhythm method entails.
What’s the Rhythm Method?
According to MayoClinic, the rhythm method is a “natural family planning” method in which “you track your menstrual history to predict when you’ll ovulate.” By predicting when you ovulate, you can figure out the days you are most likely to become pregnant.
Those that wish to become pregnant can have sex on their most fertile days, and those who don’t want to be pregnant can avoid those days and have sex on their least fertile days instead.
Why Do People Choose the Rhythm Method?
The rhythm method is a great way to get in touch with your own cycle. In order for maximum effectiveness, rhythm users must be able to estimate their ovulation dates as closely as possible.
To determine this it’s essential for menstrual history, cervical fluid, PMS symptoms, and basal body temperatures to be consistently tracked. This gives you a super intimate glimpse as to what is happening inside your body, and has none of the side effects of hormonal birth control. It’s also free or low-cost, depending on whether you’re investing in a thermometer to measure basal body temperature or a journal to keep track of your recordings.
How Effective Is the Rhythm Method?
MayoClinic states, “in the first year of typical use an estimated 13 out of 100 women practicing the rhythm method for birth control will get pregnant.” This means that the rhythm method is not the most effective birth control method, nor is it the easiest to do correctly because of the amount of observations you must make about your body.
However, it can be very effective for those looking to start a family and/or learn more about their bodies.
What Are the Cons of the Rhythm Method?
If the only thing consistent about your periods is their wild irregularity, then the rhythm method is definitely not for you, especially if you’re trying to avoid pregnancy. It’s also important to note that the rhythm method does not protect against STDs, because it does not involve the use of condoms.
Like most forms of birth control, there are both positive and negative aspects to the rhythm method. It is important to know both sides to every birth control option before choosing what works best for your body and lifestyle. If you’re interested in learning more about how to use the rhythm method, check out the resources below.
- What to Expect of the Rhythm Method
- Natural Family Planning
- The Rhythm Method and the Standard Method
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