The rhythm method is a form of fertility awareness that helps you predict ovulation and when you’re most likely to get pregnant. You might use the rhythm method to be sure you have intercourse on the days you're most fertile and likely to conceive. The rhythm method can also help you know when to avoid intercourse or use protection to prevent pregnancy.
Here at Women’s Care of Beverly Hills in South Bay, Redondo Beach, and Beverly Hills, California, the expert OB/GYN team can help you learn if the rhythm method is the right method for you whether you want to use it as contraception or for family planning. Here’s what they want you to know.
Most women have a menstrual cycle that runs 28-32 days. The cycle begins on the first day of your period and, usually, ovulation occurs around day 14.
Ovulation is when your ovaries release an egg to be fertilized. When fertilization doesn’t occur, your period comes to flush out the uterine lining and prepare for the next cycle.
When you use the rhythm method, you carefully record the first day of your period and keep track of where you are in the cycle. Of course, not every woman is the same and their day of ovulation can vary according to their personal biology.
That’s what makes the rhythm method tricky. It’s only about 75% effective at preventing pregnancy compared to other methods of birth control like the pill, intrauterine devices, or the vaginal ring which are up to 99% effective in preventing conception.
We can help you track several months of your cycle. It’s normal for your cycle to vary slightly in the length of days, so it’s important to obtain an average. This can help you determine the days of your cycle when you’re most likely to be fertile and able to get pregnant.
If you want to avoid getting pregnant, don’t have intercourse on your most fertile days or use a barrier method of contraception, like condoms or the sponge. If you’re hoping to conceive, these fertile days are the time you should prioritize sex. For most women, days 8-19 of the cycle are the most fertile.
The rhythm method can be helpful in determining your fertile days, but it’s not foolproof. It becomes more accurate when you couple it with other forms of natural family planning like:
Your cervical mucus changes in volume and consistency during your cycle. When you’re close to ovulation or ovulating, it becomes clear and stretchy – much like an egg white. If you have been taking birth control pills or recently been infected with a sexually transmitted disease, your mucus may not be an accurate reflection of fertility, however.
Taking your body temperature first thing every morning before getting out of bed can also reveal when you ovulate. Your temperature rises about 0.4 to 1 degree Fahrenheit during ovulation.
Chart your temperature to notice the pattern and changes. Once ovulation is over, you’ll notice a sharp reduction in your body temperature.