The Standard Days Method (SDM) is a fertility awareness-based method that helps women keep track of the days of their menstrual cycle and see which days they are likely to get pregnant.
The Standard Days Method (SDM) relies on a fixed “window” of fertility that makes it easy for women to know when they are likely to become pregnant. To avoid pregnancy, a woman with menstrual cycles between 26 and 32 days long should either use a back-up method of contraception or refrain from unprotected intercourse on cycle days 8 through 19. A color-coded string of beads, called CycleBeads®, are used to help women keep track of the days of their menstrual cycle and identify which days they are likely to get pregnant.
PSI first launched the SDM in 2004 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and now distribute the product in Benin, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, and Rwanda as part of our broad range of family planning methods and services. In 2016 we distributed 36,195 CycleBeads®, averting 38,671 DALYs (disability-adjusted life years) and providing 54,294 CYPs (couple years of protection).
Clinical trials show that SDM is more than 95% effective with correct use and more than 88% effective with typical use among women who reported regular cycles of 26 to 32 days.
SDM offers women a variety of benefits:
- It is a natural family planning method with no hormones, side effects, or surgical procedures necessary.
- One set of CycleBeads® will last for years before needing to be replaced. Therefore, it is cost-effective in the long term.
- A client does not have to go to a medical provider or pharmacists to receive the product but can find it in non-specialized shops. When possible, SDM is integrated into a broader contraceptive method mix and is offered to women as one option in a full range of both hormonal and non-hormonal contraceptive methods.
Making a Difference
Many couples in rural Nigeria lack access to family planning services and to correct information about modern contraceptive methods. The Society for Family Health (SFH), a PSI independent network member, is bridging this gap with the natural modern contraceptive method known as Standard Days Method (SDM) using CycleBeads®.
SFH works with community-based organizations, local governments, trained male and female community-based healthcare providers, and interpersonal communication (IPC) agents to promote SDM and distribute CycleBeads®. Additionally, SFH uses religious and community leaders, posters, job aids, and radio dramas focused on CycleBeads® to create awareness and increase acceptance of the method.
SFH has found that the majority of SDM users feel the method is effective and acceptable. Users obtain information about SDM from their healthcare providers, friends, neighbors, clinics, and pamphlets. Interestingly, men who are initially reticent about spacing their children also consider the method acceptable.
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