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Family Planning Method is as Effective as the Contraceptive Pill

eacher. Learning STM is usually no problem. There are precise rules that work. However, in contrast to the oral contraceptive pill or other family planning methods, STM needs more engagement and time to learn it.”

Every month the women in the study sent charts to the researchers that showed their cycles, their observations of temperature and cervical secretions, and that recorded their sexual behaviour and family planning intentions for the next cycle.

Of the 900 women, 322 used only STM and 509 women used STM with occasional barriers during the fertile time. Sixty-nine women did not document their sexual behaviour. Out of the women who documented their sexual behaviour and abstained from sex during their fertile period (“perfect use”) the unintended pregnancy rate was 0.4 per 100 women and 13 cycles [2], and 0.6 for women who used STM plus a barrier if they had sex during their fertile period. For cycles in which couples had unprotected sex during the fertile phase, the pregnancy rates rose to 7.5 per 100 women and 13 cycles. The drop-out rate from using STM for reasons such as dissatisfaction or difficulties with the method was 9.2 per 100 women and 13 cycles, and compared well with the drop-out rates from other methods of family planning, which can be as high as 30%, although direct comparisons are difficult due to methodological problems. “This demonstrates a fairly good acceptability for this particular FAB method,” said Prof Frank-Herrmann.

The authors were surprised by the relatively low rate of unintended pregnancies (7.5%) among women who had unprotected sex during their fertile period. “If people are trying for pregnancy you expect a pregnancy rate of 28% per cycle,” said Prof Frank-Herrmann. “Therefore, we think that some of the couples were practising conscious, intelligent risk-taking, and were having no unprotected sex during the few highly fertile days, but had unprotected intercourse on the days at the margins of
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