The Standard Days Method: An Addition to the Arsenal of Family Planning Method Choice in Ethiopia
Background and methodology: The Standard Days Method (SDM) is a fertility-awareness-based method of family planning that helps users to identify the fertile days of the reproductive cycle (days 8–19). To prevent pregnancy users avoid unprotected sexual intercourse during these days. A cross-sectional community-based study was conducted from December 2007 to June 2008 in four operational areas of Pathfinder International Ethiopia. A total of 184 SDM users were included in the study. Quantitative and qualitative methods of data collection were used. The aim of the study was to examine the experience of introducing the SDM at community level in Ethiopia.
Results: Of the 184 participants, 80.4% were still using the SDM at the time of the survey, with 35% having used it for between 6 and 12 months, while 42% had used it for more than a year. The majority (83%) knew that a woman is most likely to conceive halfway through her menstrual cycle, and nearly 91% correctly said that the SDM does not confer protection from sexually transmitted infections/AIDS. A substantial majority (75%) had correctly identified what each colour-coded bead represents in the CycleBeads, and an aggregate of 90.5% of women practised all the elements of correct use.
Discussion and conclusions: This study demonstrates the importance of the SDM in increasing the availability and accessibility of family planning, and the potential to improve family planning method choice and method mix by expanding use of the SDM.