from the natural-family-planning dept.
Count natural family planning among the ways young people are hearkening back to the practices of their grandparents as Olga Khazan reports at The Atlantic that new apps are letting women know if they can have sex with their partners without a condom or a contraceptive pill using calendar-based contraception. The underlying motive is not so much trendiness as it is a dissatisfaction with the Pill, which is still the most common form of birth control for women. In a recent CDC study of 12,000 American women, 63 percent of women who stopped using the Pill did so due to its side effects (PDF). And while as of 2010, only about 22 percent of women used “periodic abstinence," an umbrella term that includes counting days, measuring temperature, and tracking cervical mucus to predict fertility, their ranks may grow as new apps and other technologies make it easier to manage the historically error-prone task of measuring, recording, and analyzing one’s cycle in order to stay baby-free.
CycleBeads, for example, is an iPhone app that allows women to track fertility based on the Standard Days Method, a system developed by Georgetown University's Institute for Reproductive Health in which specific days of each woman’s cycle are considered infertile. While the method is not as effective for women who have cycles outside of the 26-32 day range, Leslie Heyer says that its success rate is about 95 percent for “perfect use” and 88 percent for “typical use,” which would mean it beats condoms and falls just short of the Pill. “At first [my husband and I] were worried,” says Kate, a woman who began using CycleBeads nearly three years ago after experiencing weight gain and moodiness on the Pill, “but then we got used to it and have grown to trust it. I honestly can't imagine ever going back on the Pill.”