Natural family planning.

We have long known that hormonal birth control (pill, ring, or patch) can have an adverse effect on sexual functioning for some women. Hormonal birth control can decrease testosterone levels and increase a protein (SHBG) that binds to testosterone, inhibiting its function. Having sub-optimal testosterone levels can negatively affect sexual functioning. Therefore, we often recommend that women stop taking hormonal birth control and either opt for an IUD (intra-uterine device) or use a barrier method (condom, diaphragm, cervical cap) with a spermicide (gel, film, foam, sponge) if tolerable.

I would like to focus on yet another method that can be used in conjunction with barrier protection. It is often referred to as Natural Family Planning. There are several different methods that fall under the Natural Family Planning category, all focused on preventing pregnancy by abstaining from unprotected intercourse at peak fertile times of a menstrual cycle.

The one method I found easiest to comprehend and utilize is called the Standard Days Method. This method is ONLY appropriate for women with regular menstrual cycles, lasting between 26-32 days. Simply put, a woman will not have unprotected intercourse from day 8 through day 19 of their menstrual cycle.

Research shows this method is 95% effective in preventing pregnancy, which means that 5 out of every 100 couples who use Standard Days Method correctly for one year will have a pregnancy.

Here is more information about Standard Days Method and how a product called Cycle Beads can assist you with this method.