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Natural Family Planning

The rhythm method has been expanded to include several methods of determining the time of ovulation. While most physicians do not recognize rhythm as a medical matter, it is a form of contraception their patients may use or ask about. There are risks to this method, and these risks should be explained to patients.

The most obvious risk is pregnancy. This is an effective method if used properly in selected patients, but it requires training and good record keeping. In addition, the woman must consider the social problems of abstinence. One study of the effectiveness of rhythm was discontinued after several study subjects were beaten by their husbands for refusing intercourse. Another risk is the use of rhythm as an adjunct to barrier methods by a patient who is not trained. Many couples will not use barriers if the woman is menstruating in the mistaken belief that conception is not possible. This last risk should be discussed with patients who choose to use barrier contraceptives because it may increase the incidence of pregnancy.

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