In the rhythm

Most people are understandably dubious of the seemingly simplistic concept of the rhythm method. But obvious disclaimers aside, (such as being in a trusting relationship, having a regular menstrual cycle etc) I think it’s a truly excellent form of birth control and useful tool for conception too.

I unwittingly paved the way for the rhythm method years before I even considered starting a family. During my first year of university I was diagnosed with endometriosis and put on the pill to lessen the symptoms. The gynaecologist also encouraged me to monitor my cycle for pain management purposes.

So for many years I dutifully continued keeping record of my monthly cycle, even while on the pill, and eventually it became second nature to do so.

Then about a year into my marriage I started feeling broody. I knew the timing was bad (career, finances, the usual) but discussed my feelings with hubby. We both agreed that we were still very young and that there really was no rush - so we got two dogs instead.

Another year down the line we both started feeling broody but still remained doubtful of our overall readiness. After many casual chats we discovered that couples with children all spouted out the same mantra: there’s never going to be a “right” time. Meanwhile, I had also become tired of being on the pill for so many years and was convinced the long-term use was affecting my libido.

And so the never-a-right-time mantra and me wanting to stop all forms of chemical contraception inspired our solution: the rhythm method. Officially, we were not trying to start a family because we still weren’t 100% ready, but felt that should we fall pregnant then it was meant to be.

Things went swimmingly and to my husband’s delight I was right about the pill and my libido. So he was happy to adhere the few days a month that were a “no-go” according to the rhythm method.

The only down side to the method was that every time I was even a day late, I rushed to the pharmacy to get a home pregnancy test, and let off a sigh of relief when the second line did not appear.

And then one month, most unexpectedly, both my husband and I felt rather disappointed when we didn’t see a second line.

“Wait, so does this mean we think we’re ready to start trying?” I asked nervously.

“I don’t know…” hubby replied with uncertainty.

“Well, I don’t know either but how about, instead of trying, we stop not trying” I smiled, quite pleased at myself.

“Huh?” he looked confused.

“Well, I mean, let’s not actively prevent it and just see what happens?”

We didn’t give it much thought after that and it was just business as usual until one random evening we decided to go out to dinner and catch-up. It had been a busy week and neither of us wanted to cook.

So off we went to our favourite local Italian restaurant. A delicious meal, a delightful bottle of Chenin Blanc and some fabulous conversation later - the evening took an unexpected but welcome romantic turn.

“Wait!” I shrieked amid passionate embrace. “We are smack-dab in the middle of the ‘no-go’ days.”

“Well, let’s just see what happens.” he grinned sheepishly.

A short few weeks later we both beamed proudly at the clearly visible second line on the home pregnancy test.

Have you tried the rhythm method? Do you think it’s reliable?
We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24