SDM (Standard Days Method) is an effective fertility awareness method which helps women track fertile and infertile days of their menstrual cycle. It was developed by Institute of Reproductive Health at Georgetown University.
Wondering how much effective this method is…?
If used correctly then standard days method is 95% effective. This is possible for women who have 26 – 32 days of menstrual cycles. For a woman who has menstrual cycle shorter than 26 days and longer than 32 days (at least once in a year) then the effectiveness of this method decreases significantly.
Still not convinced! Here is a research which proves the effectiveness…
In several countries, an efficacy study was conducted to know the effectiveness of standard day method. As per the researchers, it was more than 95% effective for women in avoiding pregnancy. This states that on an average out of 100 women who used this family planning method for a year and had protected sex for days 8 – 19, less than 5 women got pregnant.
The same study also stated that women who didn’t follow the method appropriately and had unprotected sex on days 8 – 19 of their cycles are more likely get pregnant. In some cases, though the method was used correctly but had unprotected sex during day 8 – 19, 12 out of 100 women got pregnant (1).
When SDM is compared with other methods of family planning (including barrier methods), it is 88% effective with typical use and 95% effective with correct use.
How to Use Standard Days Method?
This method can be followed in two different types – using a calendar or CycleBeads. You can try any one as per your convenience. Below, we will explain about each type in detail…
1. Using a Calendar
Take any normal calendar, when your periods starts, mark the day as 1 and circle it. After a week, mark the same day of the week as 8. From here count forward to 19 and circle it. Highlight the days from 8 – 19. These are your fertile days so avoid having sex during these days if you want to prevent conception.
The remaining days of each cycle have a low chance of getting pregnant. You don’t have to take pregnancy precautions to have sex on day 1 – 7 and day 20 – end of the cycle (until your next period starts).
Once your next cycle begins, mark it as day 1 and count the number of days of your previous cycle. Mark the last day of your each cycle in a square. Making a record of each cycle helps to understand the monthly menstrual cycle. If the menstrual cycle is less 26 days or more than 32 days then avoid following this method as it may not be effective in tracking fertile days. If only one cycle per year is less than 26 and more than 32 days then you can follow it.
An illustration of SDM using a calendar
CycleBeads is a string with colorful beads used to track fertile and unfertile days of a menstrual cycle. Each bead of this string represents a day of the woman’s menstrual cycle. The CycleBeads has a black rubber ring which will be moved a bead over bead in the direction of the arrow.
On the first day of the menstrual cycle, the rubber ring is placed on the first bead (red one). On the second day, the rubber ring will be moved over the next bead. The same process is repeated daily. Once the rubber ring is on the dark bead, then pregnancy is unlikely. But when the rubber ring is on white bead then pregnancy is most likely.
This method works is effective for women who have menstrual cycle less between 26 – 32 days. For women who have menstrual cycle less than 26 days and more than 32 days then this method may not effective in tracking fertile and infertile days. If the woman who will have unprotected sex on fertile days (rubber ring on white beads) can get pregnant.
Who Can Use Standard Days Method?
You can track your fertile and infertile days using standard days method only if…
- Your cycle is not shorter than 26 days and longer than 32 days.
- You have regular menstrual cycles (your periods always come on time).
- You are fine with either avoiding sexual intercourse or using any birth control method during fertile (day 8 – 19 of menstrual cycle) days.
In case, you are taking any hormonal pills or undergoing any treatment for gynecological issues, then it is better to avoid following this method.
When I start Using Standard Days Method?
- If you know your last menstruation cycle, you can start SDM immediately by counting the days by marking the first day of the period as Day 1.
- If you don’t know the exact date of last menstruation cycle then you can start SDM once your period starts.
- If you recently gave birth to a baby and breastfeeding then start the method after 4 menstrual cycles if each one is one month apart. You can use SDM while breast feeding if your menstrual cycles are not less than 26 days and not more than 32 days.
If you are on birth contraceptives or getting treated for any medical issues then consult your doctor whether you can use SDM for natural family planning.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can we use barrier method of contraception during day 8 – 19?
Yes, you can use any type of contraception during day 8 – 19 as they are most fertile days of your menstrual cycle.
2. Can we use natural family planning methods like SDM to achieve conception?
Yes, you can. Most of the NFP methods can increase the likelihood conception. But SDM is less effective than other methods.
2. Where can I buy CycleBeads?
You can purchase it from any licensed health care professional or any local pharmacy.
3. What type of contraception is recommended during day 8 – 19?
It is better to avoid having sex during day 8 – 19 of menstrual cycle. However, if you want to indulge in intercourse during this fertile window, it is better to use any barrier method like condoms to avoid getting pregnant. Using any type of oral contraceptive can effect on the natural family planning process.
4. Can women switch to SDM from other family planning method?
In most of the cases, women who want to use natural family planning methods are either new to it or had discontinued previous method due to side effects or any other personal reason. Whether to switch or choose SDM entirely depends on her wish. If this methods caters what she is looking for in a natural planning process then she can choose it.
5. Twelve days is a long time for some couples, because some of them don’t have sex during periods. How should people cope up from it?
As per the SDM, people just don’t have sex in the fertile window in which the woman is more likely to get pregnant. They can abstain from intercourse and show affection in other ways. Or else they can use barrier methods to have sex during those days.
6. Should the partner also understand SDM and how to use it?
As per the efficacy report, 2% of the women dropped out of the SDM method as their partners were are supportive. But in some cases, men who understood the concept were very supportive. So, it is important that women and men should talk to each other before starting a natural family planning method. As the tracking is visual, men can also know when to indulge or avoid an intercourse. It is equally important that they decide how to cope up with the days during fertile period.
7. Can illiterate women use SDM?
Yes, it is completely possible. There is no need of reading or writing in order to use it. In fact, the CycleBeads process is very helpful as it a visual aid for women.
8. Can we consider SDM as a modern family planning method?
Yes, it can be considered because it meet the following criteria…
It is developed based on human reproductive physiology.
Was developed following scientific method utilizing modern science including mathematics.
It was field tested by the rules used for testing other modern family planning methods.
For being a modern family planning method, it is not necessary for a method to include drugs or surgical procedures. It has to be different from traditional practices, popular beliefs, and assumptions. And SDM method different from the assumptions and thoroughly tested so, it is a modern family planning method.
9. How different is SDM from Rhythm Method?
It is completely different. Rhythm method needs exact information of last 6 months menstrual cycle. By making arithmetical calculations, fertile and unfertile days are calculated. Rhythm method was never tested in any well-designed efficacy study. While SDM method is very simple, doesn’t need any calculations and was tested in a well-designed study of efficacy. It can be used by illiterates as well and can be started immediately (from your menstrual date) without the data of past menstrual cycles.
10. Ovulation is considered to be on 14 days before menstruation. Isn’t that true? Then why does SDM has so many fertile days?
In most of the cases, menstrual cycle contains 28 days so it can be true that ovulation occurs more or less 14 days before menstruation. However, in shorter or longer cycles, the exact ovulation day can difficult to predict. In some cases, ovulation can take place twice in a menstrual cycle.
So, in order to understand the fertile period of a menstrual cycle, we consider taking three variables – lifespan of the sperm (5 days), timing of ovulation (24 – 48 hours) and duration of the cycle (28 – 32 days). These clusters can sometimes move outside their ranges so any method you choose should take these possible variations as well. SDM considers most of the possibilities that is why it has so may fertile days.
11. Is natural family planning effective for me?
The effectiveness of the planning method varies from one couple to another. Younger couples are considered more fertile than older couples. To obtain the best effectiveness, follow the method closely and avoid having from sex as indicated.
12. Is the Standard Days Method of NFP approved by the Catholic Church?
Yes. At least Bishops Conference and several Roman Catholic Bishops have approved the SDM method of natural family planning.
Was the information provided in the article helpful in understanding the procedure of SDM? Which natural family planning method do you follow? Share your queries and experiences in the comment section below. We love to hear from you.