Is the rhythm method safe?

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Email ques­tions to Doc at sat­ur­daylife@glean­ and read more in the ‘Out­look Mag­a­zine’ to­mor­row.

QDoc, we are a young cou­ple in love, and we don’t re­ally like con­doms. We have heard that there is some­thing called ‘the rhythm method’ in which a cou­ple can have sex on cer­tain days of the month but still be safe from preg­nancy.

Is this true? One of our friends says that what you have to do is to avoid hav­ing sex at the time, which oc­curs around about a week af­ter the end of the menses. Has she got this right?

By the way, my girl’s menses are a lit­tle ir­reg­u­lar, Doc. Some­times they are 19 days apart and some­times about 35.

AAny woman whose menses are ir­reg­u­lar should not use the rhythm method. If you don’t know when your pe­riod is go­ing to ar­rive, it is dif­fi­cult to work out your ovu­la­tion day.

The rhythm method is based on try­ing to work out pre­cisely when your ovu­la­tion day is, and, there­fore, the time at which it would be dan­ger­ous for you to have sex. For in­stance, if a young woman has ab­so­lutely reg­u­lar menses, which oc­cur ev­ery 28 days, it is prob­a­ble that she will ovu­late round about 12 to 14 days af­ter the start of a pe­riod.

There­fore, she should avoid hav­ing sex be­tween about the 10th day of her cy­cle and the 18th day. Please note that you must al­ways count the days from the start of a pe­riod – not from the end!

But if a young lady has pe­ri­ods that are some­times close to­gether, and some­times far apart, then work­ing out the ‘dan­ger time’ be­comes much harder.

It can be done, with the aid of a doc­tor who is ex­pert in the rhythm method. She can show the cou­ple how to do a daily ‘tem­per­a­ture chart’, which re­veals the likely date of ovu­la­tion. She can also ex­plain to the young woman how she can keep a record of the na­ture of her vagi­nal se­cre­tions, be­cause round about the time of ovu­la­tion, the fluid changes in ap­pear­ance and feel.

But these tech­niques are not too easy to use. So un­less you have the help of an ex­pert doc­tor (or nurse), I feel that you should use some other method of con­tra­cep­tion.

Have you thought of us­ing the fe­male con­dom? That is of­ten a lot eas­ier to use than the male one. You can buy it in many phar­ma­cies these days. The young woman just puts it in­side her vagina im­me­di­ately be­fore sex. And af­ter hav­ing sex, she throws it away. It’s well worth a try.

QDoc, I am a guy of 18 and I no­tice that I have def­i­nite ho­mo­sex­ual ten­den­cies. This is re­ally mak­ing me fret. I can­not sleep at night.

Could I get some hor­mones from a doc­tor in or­der to make me straight?

AUn­for­tu­nately, no. Ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity is not caused from changes in the hor­mones. Gay guys have ex­actly the same hor­mones as straight guys do. So giv­ing hor­mone ther­apy can­not help.

As you are in some dis­tress, you should talk things over with an ex­pe­ri­enced youth coun­sel­lor. Hav­ing half a dozen ther­apy ses­sions could help you to work out which way your life should go.

QI am fe­male, age 17. Doc, I don’t know why I did this, but last Tues­day, I went with two guys on the beach – one af­ter the other, five min­utes apart. I did not en­joy it.

Do you think I will come to any harm?

AWell to be frank, this was pretty crazy be­hav­iour. Let us hope that you are not preg­nant – since it would be dif­fi­cult to work out who the baby­fa­ther would be.

In my view, you should now go to a doc­tor or a clinic and get your­self tested for in­fec­tions, par­tic­u­larly chlamy­dia, which is very com­mon.

Why did you do this un­wise thing? My guess is that you don’t value your­self (and your body) very highly. You may well have been seek­ing some sort of ap­proval or af­fir­ma­tion from the boys. That is of­ten the case with young women who go in for mul­ti­ple sex part­ners.

So I sug­gest that you have a look at some of the 50 mil­lion web­sites on the In­ter­net that deal with self-es­teem. Some of them of­fer quite sen­si­ble guides to valu­ing your­self (and your body) more highly.

QI am a guy of 21, Doc. And I have never had sex. Some of my friends laugh at me be­cause of that. Is there any­thing wrong with be­ing a male vir­gin? And will I come to any harm?

ANo, you will not come to any harm. And there is noth­ing at all wrong with be­ing a ‘male vir­gin’ at the age of 21.

In times gone by, a very high pro­por­tion of the male pop­u­la­tion were still vir­gins in their 20s. It did them no harm. And they avoided quite a lot of trou­ble, for in­stance, in­fec­tions and preg­nancy scares.

So please pay your friends no mind.

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