Talking to your kids about sex can be daunting, no matter how
close you are. But discussing issues like abstinence,
sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
, and birth control can help lower teens' risk of an
or contracting an STD.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) supports sex education
that includes information about both abstinence and birth control.
Research has shown that this information doesn't increase
kids' level of sexual activity, but actually promotes and
increases the proper use of birth control methods among sexually
How and when you discuss sex and birth control is up to you.
Providing the facts is vital, but it's also wise to tell your
kids where you stand. Remember, by approaching these issues
like any other health topics, not as something dirty or
embarrassing, you increase the odds that your kids will
feel comfortable coming to you with any questions and
problems. As awkward as it might feel, answer questions honestly.
And if you don't know the answers, it's OK to say so, then
find out and report back.
If you have questions about how to talk with your son or
daughter about sex, consider consulting your doctor. Lots of
parents find this tough to tackle, and a doctor may offer some
What Is the Rhythm Method?
The rhythm method is a way to prevent pregnancy by not having
sex around the time of ovulation (the release of an egg during a
woman's monthly cycle). Couples who want to have a baby
can also use this method to plan sex during the time the female is
most likely to conceive. It is sometimes called natural family
planning, periodic abstinence, or fertility awareness.
How Does the Rhythm Method Work?
If a couple doesn't have sex around the time of ovulation,
the female can't get pregnant. The trick is knowing when
ovulation happens. Couples use a calendar, a thermometer to measure
body temperature, a kit that tests the thickness of cervical mucus,
or a kit that tests for ovulation. The ovulation kits are more
useful for couples who are trying to get pregnant. The fertile
period around ovulation lasts 6 to 9 days and during this time the
couple should not have unprotected sex.
How Well Does the Rhythm Method Work?
The rhythm method is not a reliable way to prevent pregnancy for
most young people who are sexually active. Over the course of a
year, as many as 25 out of 100 typical couples who rely on the
rhythm method to prevent pregnancy will have an accidental
pregnancy. Of course, this is an average, and the chance of getting
pregnant depends on whether a couple uses one or more of the rhythm
method tools correctly and consistently to ensure that they do
not have unprotected sex during the fertile period.
In general, how well each type of birth control method works
depends on many different factors. These include any health
conditions the young woman may have or any medications she may be
taking. In the case of the rhythm method, it depends on how
consistent her cycle is and how accurately the couple tracks when
she could be ovulating.
Protection Against STDs
The rhythm method does not protect against STDs. Couples
having sex must always use
to protect against STDs even when using another method of birth
Abstinence (not having sex) is the only method that always
prevents pregnancy and STDs.
Who Uses the Rhythm Method?
The rhythm method is not a reliable way to prevent pregnancy. It
is often very difficult to tell when a female is fertile, and she
can conceive for up to 6 days before she ovulates and 1 or 2 days
after. Because teens often have irregular menstrual cycles, it
makes predicting ovulation much more difficult. The rhythm method
requires a commitment to monitoring body changes, keeping daily
records, and above all not having sex during the fertile period.
Couples often need to practice for months to get this method
More Information About the Rhythm Method
Couples interested in this method should talk to a doctor
or counselor trained in fertility awareness who can teach them the
skills necessary to practicing the rhythm method accurately.
How Much Does the Rhythm Method Cost?
The tools needed for the rhythm method - such as ovulation
detection kits and thermometers - are available in drugstores but
can be expensive. Again, it's best to talk to a doctor for
advice on using this method.
Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: January 2007
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice,
diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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