The rhythm method has been expanded to include several methods of
determining the time of ovulation. Although most medical care practitioners 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.