The Rhythm Method

The Rhythm Method can be a way for a woman to become completely in tune with her body’s natural monthly cycles. It can be very empowering to take charge of your body in this way, especially in a society that often commodifies women’s bodies. It is a natural form of birth control, or having control over if and when you decide to conceive. 

Have you ever heard of The Rhythm Method? Yes? No? Maybe?? Have you perhaps heard of it referred to as Metodo del Ritmo Calendario? Or, have you ever heard of the (rude!) stereotype that Catholic people have a lot of kids? This stereotype comes from traditions in the Catholic Church that are not in favor of hormonal birth control, and encourage married couples to use The Rhythm Method as a form of family planning. In fact, if you ask your Catholic Abuelita about this, she may have some tips. I recall my mom telling me to get off birth control and give the Calendario Catolico a try once I got married. In fact (with all respect to baby Jesus and to everyone else’s beliefs), if you feel so inclined to learn more about The Rhythm Method, your local Catholic church may offer some valuable (free!) resources or suggested reading material. Now now now don’t think that B Money is gonna get all preachy on y’all. My goal here is to share all of the info I can with you so that you can make the most educated and empowered decisions about your health, body and life.

In case you haven’t figured it out by now, this week’s blog post is all about Natural Family Planning, specifically through The Rhythm Method. So, lil homies, get yo giggles out now, cause we are gonna talk all about where babies come from and how to naturally avoid pregnancy.

To understand how the Rhythm Method works, we must revisit some principals from biology. Men are fertile every day, due to how their reproductive organs are wired. Women, however, are only fertile a few days a month, when they ovulate. Therefore, The Rhythm Method involves a woman being in tune with her natural cycle, and tracking it. When she is in tune with her body’s natural rhythm (see where the name comes from), she can determine her fertile days. Once she knows her fertile days, she can use a barrier method or abstain from sex to avoid pregnancy. 

I want to note here that sperm can stay alive in the vagina for up to 5 days. Therefore, if a woman has unprotected sex with a man a few days before ovulation, pregnancy may be possible. The key is to be able to predict when you are ovulating to take the proper measures to prevent pregnancy if you so choose.

The best part of this method is that, if done correctly, a woman will know exactly when she is ovulating. What you learn about yourself to avoid pregnancy now can potentially help you to conceive in the future.

Some things to keep in mind before we continue. The Rhythm Method can help to prevent pregnancy, but it does not protect against STDs. Therefore, this method of natural contraception is ideal for couples in a long term monogamous relationship.

Additionally, for the best results, regular monthly cycles would ensure your best chance of success.  

You may not find success with the rhythm method if:

  • You just had a baby
  • You’ve recently stopped taking birth control pills or other hormonal contraceptives – cause you’re hormones will need some time to adjust yo!
  • You’re breast-feeding – I know someone who “accidentally” conceived her daughter while they were nursing. Pues….?
  • You’re approaching menopause- the good news once menopause finally hits, you won’t ever have to worry about preventing pregnancy again!
  • You have irregular menstrual cycles due to hormonal imbalances (caused by thyroid issues or other internal factors, etc)

I cannot emphasize enough that a regular cycle is important to the success of this method of natural family planning. No me pegues if you have a surprise CHB baby. I warned you! Ok so now that we established all that, let’s discuss how the heck to determine the fertile days in your cycle.

 

A’ight ladies, so we get our periods every month, right? Day one of your period counts as day one of your cycle for that month. If you have a cycle that lasts about 28 days (ie comes about every 4 weeks), then you will ovulate around day 14 of your cycle. You can use a calendar or an app to track. Clue is a popular app to track your cycles. A lot of my homegirls use it and love it. The goal here is to become familiar with “what day of your cycle you are on,” so to speak.

Once you get the hang of becoming familiar with the days of your monthly cycles, next you can track fertile days one of two ways– through fluid or temperature. 

Tracking Fertile Days with Fluid

You can check your vaginal fluid with clean hands every morning in the shower. If you are comfortable using a Diva Cup or tampons, then this may be a suitable method for you. Becoming familiar with your fluid will allow you to determine your fertile days. When your fertile, your fluid will be clear and stretchy (like …raw egg whites). When you are not fertile, it will be thicker and white. 

If you are not comfortable getting in touch with your body like this, fear not! There are other methods. For instance, you can use a thermometer.

Tracking Fertile Days with a Thermometer

You can use a thermometer to take your temperature orally every morning before getting out of bed. Your waking temperature is referred to as your Basal Body temperature.  Your temperature will rise slightly around the time you are fertile, which can give you a warning that your fertile days are coming/here. Keep in mind, you want a thermometer that will read your temperature with 4 decimal places; for instance, as 98.75 degrees. That last number in the thermometer reading is going to be crucial in helping you read those slight temperature changes.

If you opt for this thermometer method, I highly recommend you check out the Natural Cycles App. The temperatures sync with your app. The app then uses an algorithm to help you understand your cycle best. The app also offers a lot of educational videos to help empower any woman who wants to take charge and get to know her fertile health. 

Now that we have reviewed how to get in touch with your cycle in different ways, let’s frankly look at some of the Pros and Cons of the Rhythm Method.

The Pros and Cons of Natural Family Planning AKA The Rhythm Method

Benefits:

  • All natural, no need to use artificial hormones from birth control
  • Empowers a mujer to become familiar with her body
  • Since a woman becomes in tune with her fertile days, she will be prepared to conceive whenever she feels ready, if she so chooses

Concerns:

  • This method requires a lot of work– homegirl needs to check herself every day 
  • There is a potential to miscalculate your cycle and unintentionally conceive 
  • There is an especially higher chance of unexpected pregnancy in the beginning as you are still learning about your cycle

Bueno pues, now that we reviewed some basics of how it works, do you feel down to try it? I’ll be honest. When I was engaged, I was like hell no! I bought a wedding dress that I had every intention of fitting into on my big day. I didn’t want to risk an unplanned pregnancy. After being married for one year, I got off birth control and began to experiment con el método del ritmo calendario. It’s been a great experience getting in touch with my body. Including my husband in this has also helped us to bond further. Like, homeboy brings me chocolates when I’m PMSing and does little things around the house for me if I’ve got the period blues….what a guy. He’s more proactive rather than reactive because he’s become familiar with my cycle and knows when and what to anticipate. Flash forward to now: after being married for two years, I’m at a point where if I happen to unintentionally conceive, my spouse and I will positively embrace the change. One year ago, a slip up in our calendar method would have made us cringe. Today, we’d be like…

Can you relate? If you are in a somewhat similar situation, this may be a great method for you to try. 

If you’re single or celibate, don’t think this info don’t apply to you now! It’s the best time to discover your body on a deeper level. Take advantage of this time to yourself and track your cycles and your fertile days. That way, when you’re ready to get yo freaky on with a partner, you will have the knowledge to plan OR prevent.

Additional Resources for The Rhythm Method

If your periods are not regular, you may benefit from booking a consultation here at Compton Health Bar. You could try a custom version of the Female Hormone Formula to get yo hormones on trizzack.

Since we are talking about family planning, this is a time I would also like to share another resource with any woman interested in taking control of her fertility, future, all dat good shieet. Modern Fertility offers an at-home test that allows you to get a comprehensive look at your hormone levels. This knowledge can be incredibly empowering to discuss with your primary care doctor, gyno, or with the Herbal Mixologists here at Compton Health Bar so that you can get the best care or formulas for your individual and unique needs.

I also encourage everyone to read Our Bodies, Ourselves.  I read it in Women’s Studies 101 about 11 years ago and it had a profound effect on me that will perhaps last a lifetime. There’s tons of info there about female health, and the book also goes into The Rhythm Method.

Tying it all Together

Pregnancy is a profound and beautiful experience. Women are basically Diosas on earth who are able to incarnate spirits and bring them into this world. Mothers have a magic that no one else can measure up to. They can create life and they can even create nourishment through lactation. All women deserve equal respect but I think we can all agree that we’ve got a soft spot for our mothers. After all, my jefita is the only person in this world who can call me “hija de tu pinche madre!” without catching these hands. (I know the irony gets me every time, too.)

All this in mind, some of us are like YO I ain’t trying to have a baby right now. For many reasons. We want to focus on our career, marriage, school, ourselves. Or, we simply don’t want that type of compromiso right now just ‘cause and that’s totally ok! Yo body, yo life, yo terms, baby girl. No one but you can decide for you.

It is my belief that a woman can honor her magic to create life every month, by getting in touch with her unique cycle. Explore The Rhythm Method to plan, prevent, or just to tap into something ancient and get to know yourself more profoundly.

Aight homies. Wacha y’all think? Would you try The Rhythm Method? Is it something that would fit into your lifestyle? Or are you like naaaah, homes. Have you tried it? Did it work for you? Or do you have 9 to 11 kids like my grandmas did?  We’d love to read about your unique experiences in the comments. Peace!