In an average woman’s menstrual cycle there is a fertile phase, lasting a day or two. This occurs when the female egg travels down through the fallopian tube to where the sperm may fertilise it.
The rhythm method of birth control involves working out this period of fertility, which will differ slightly with each woman. Intercourse is then restricted during this time.
This method of contraception has been known about for thousands of years but it is only in modern times that the art of working out the fertile period has been converted into an acceptable scientific procedure.
Its advantage is that within certain limitations it is available to catholics who in conscience cannot use other methods of contraception. It is free of side effects, can be fairly reliable and shares responsibility of contraception between the parties.
A thorough knowledge of the technique is vital if you are to succeed. It is important to have a good teacher who will take you through the various procedures in detail.
The intention is to establish in detail the exact period of fertility. This is achieved by using a menstrual calendar which works on the length of your average monthly cycle. The fertile period is then calculated around the average estimated day of ovulation allowing for the survival time for both sperm and ovum inside the reproductive tract of the woman
Body temperature is also measured each day as the day of ovulation is associated with a rise in temperature. Finally, you will be instructed in the art of checking the mucus secretions that pass from the vagina during your monthly cycle. These secretions are under the influence of oestrogen which is responsible for ovulation.
As ovulation and the peak time for fertilisation approaches, the mucus becomes more and more liquid in an effort to lubricate and prepare for intercourse. Once ovulation occurs the secretions become thicker and dryer.
It is claimed that if strictly followed the rhythm method has a low failure rate in the vacinity of 2%. If not strictly followed the failure rate can increase up to 20%. Failure rate also increases dramatically if a woman’s cycle is irregular, which is very common.
For more information about the rhythm method, contact the Australian Council of Natural Family Planning, Australia wide. For referral information you can phone the Department of Natural Family Planning, St. Vincents Hospital, Sydney - (02) 339 1111.
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