Research has shown that many couples who choose natural family planning do so because it has no worrisome side effects. Although for some avoiding birth control is a religious decision, for many others it’s a health consideration. Natural family planning can help a woman get in touch with her cycle and develop more respect for her body, and some couples say it is good for the relationship because it fosters good communication about the sexual relationship.
While many couples rely on a calendar, chart or tools such as a thermometer to keep up with where the woman is in her cycle, a simpler method is available: Cycle Beads. Cycle Beads are an easy to use, totally natural tool that makes it much easier to use natural family planning to predict ovulation and either prevent or plan a pregnancy.
Cycle Beads are a string of 32 colored beads (they look like an oversized necklace), each one representing one day of a woman’s menstrual cycle. (Most women have a 28 day cycle, but some have up to 32 days in each cycle, hence the extra beads. If a woman has more than 32 days in her cycle, she’s probably not a good candidate for Cycle Beads.) The string of beads has a small black rubber ring that is moved from bead to bead each day. The color of the beads indicate the likelihood of pregnancy.
The first bead is red which represents the first day of the period, where the woman starts the cycle each month. When the woman gets to the fertile time of her cycle, the beads are white instead of colored. So if a woman wants to avoid pregnancy, she would need to abstain during this time or use another method of contraception. Or if she is trying to achieve pregnancy, she will know when she is ovulating.
Dr. Victoria Jennings, PhD, the developer of Cycle Beads, says that their failure rate is about 5%, which incidentally is the same as the failure rate of the birth control pill according to some sources, and far better than the condom. Women who have irregular cycles may not want to use Cycle Beads, but the majority of women can use them quite effectively.
Since nursing affects a woman’s fertility, moms who are breastfeeding need to have had 4 periods after the birth of her baby before they begin using Cycle Beads for best results.
Cycle Beads are also useful for women to use not as a birth control device but to be more aware of their cycle. Young women just starting their period could use them to educate themselves about their cycle.