The WHO approaches the rhythm method a bit differently though. The organization advises that women monitor their pattern of menstrual cycle over 6 months, subtracts 18 from shortest cycle length (estimated 1st fertile day) and subtracts 11 from longest cycle length (estimated last fertile day). The couple prevents pregnancy by avoiding unprotected vaginal sex during the 1st and last estimated fertile days, by abstaining or using a condom. This method has a 91% success rate with correct and consistent use according to the WHO. The other traditional methods include:
- Symptom-thermal Method: Women track their fertile periods by observing changes in the cervical mucus (clear texture) , body temperature (slight increase) and consistency of the cervix (softening). Couples are not to have unprotected vaginal sex during the most fertile period. According to the WHO, this method has a 96% success rate with correct and consistent use.
- Basal Body Temperature (BBT) Method: A woman takes her body temperature at the same time each morning before getting out of bed observing for an increase of 0.2 to 0.5 degrees celsius. Couples prevent pregnancy by avoiding unprotected vaginal sex during fertile day. This method has a 99% success rate with correct and consistent use.
- Coitus interruptus: Here, a man withdraws his penis from the vagina at the point of ejaculation, then ejaculates outside the vagina. This method doesn’t track any changes in the woman’s body but is solely dependent on the man’s ability to withdraw at a point of climax. It is one of the least effective methods, because proper timing of withdrawal is often difficult to determine, leading to the risk of ejaculating while inside the vagina.
The traditional methods are the most employed in Nigeria, but these ones listed above are sometimes not even traditional enough for the Nigerian setting. The most common family planning method employed is actually abstinence. No sex simply means no risk of a pregnancy. In fact, this practice is encouraged during breastfeeding because some still believe that semen pollutes a mother’s milk. This act may be detrimental to the sexual stability of a marriage however and needs to be thoroughly considered. It’s the most effective method, no doubts about that. Another relatively effective traditional method of birth control is prolonged breast feeding which is widely practiced in less developed regions of the world where breast milk is the most readily available and safest form of nutrition for infants. Consistent breastfeeding has been found to be a form of contraception in mothers in the first few months after birth. To make this method even more reliable, the newly delivered mother is sent to the village to stay with her mother or mother in law. These practices are still employed in some remote areas. Wearing small iron rings and leather belt stuffed with charms prepared by the native doctors and supposed to prevent pregnancy and drinking contraceptive mixtures are other traditional methods of birth control among the Yoruba.
Continued in the next article…