A natural contraceptive, family planning, and the Rhythm Method all boil down to the same fundamental concept; tracking a woman’s distinct fertility signals during her menstrual cycle to prevent pregnancies.
Videos on the Rhythm Method have gained an astounding 905 million views on TikTok, and user opinion has been divided; from self-pronounced “fertility experts” encouraging this method to one user stating their mother’s fourteen children were a consequence of this,
Dr Sowemimo, a sexual and reproductive health doctor and creator of the group Decolonising Contraception believes it to be constructive for people to discuss the topic on social media, as it aids in bringing down “barriers of marginalisation and inequality in sexual and reproductive healthcare.”
Nonetheless, there is much misinformation to be wary of, and one should fact-check with a gynaecologist if the aim is to follow the “natural” contraceptive.
How does the Rhythm Method Work?
Often, family planning is employed by couples looking to become a parent. Thus, a focus is put on a woman’s ovulating days. The Rhythm Method seeks to achieve the opposite effect by avoiding the most ‘fertile’ days.
However, no amount of tracking or planning can pinpoint when fertility is at its highest. It is a matter of percentages and numbers and can be completely variable. A woman can get pregnant at any point during her menstrual cycle.
Individuals who use this method either avoid sex during their “fertile windows” or choose to use condoms.
Social media has enabled a more open discussion on fertility, birth control and menstrual cycles. Apps like Flo help track periods and ovulation days and explain many symptoms women might experience.
Dr Whittaker, board certified gynecologist, who specializes in NaProTechnology and Restorative Reproductive Medicine, states, “The birth control pill is designed to shut down the natural hormone release by the body by overriding it with artificial chemicals which mimic, in some ways, natural hormones.”
The intake of the wrong birth control pill can cause a “reduction in acne, but can have unwanted side effects too, like increased anxiety in adolescents, decreased libido (which kind of negates the whole point), inflammation, change of the microbiome, increase of vaginal infections and contracting HPV or other STDs, and vaginal dryness or even atrophy…There is also a link to breast cancer for up to five years after discontinuing use. Breast cancer affects 1 in 8 women, and it’s the number one cancer present in women.”
Disputes within the gynecological world is likewise very present. In a Call Her Daddy Podcast, Alex Cooper interviews OB-GYN, Dr. Kameelah Philips, on birth control use. Here she states there is no definite correlation between a low libido or increased anxiety and birth control.
Gynecologists and TikTokers have come out to state their own opinions on Birth Control and the Rhythm Method.
While some discourage the Rhythm method, others note the advantages of tracking their symptoms. One user states that while birth control may aid with acne and menstrual cramp relief, it can likewise mask a bigger condition. Fertility awareness expands beyond knowing what contraception to use, but realizes the importance of knowing what works and doesn’t for your body. Birth control is not a “one size fits all” solution.
If you are considering to use the Rhythm Method, be sure to consult your gynecologist.