Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Beads aid women in family planning

By Meluse Kapatamoyo

There are growing concerns that side-effects, costs, ease of use, access and communication between couples often hinder the success of family planning methods.
CycleBeads, a colour –coded string of beads, are fast becoming a popular family planning method as the battle to ensure that women worldwide (especially those living in developing countries) have access to family planning methods besides injectables and pills.
The beads represent days of a woman’s cycle and help her use a natural family planning method called the Standard Days method, which is based on reproductive physiology. A woman’s “fertile window” (the days in the menstrual cycle when she can get pregnant) begins approximately five days prior to ovulation and lasts up to 24 hours after ovulation.
They are designed for women with cycles between 26 and 32 days long. This is the one medical criteria for using this option especially if they are being used to prevent pregnancy.
To use the beads, a woman simply moves a ring over the beads to track each day of her cycle. The colour of her beads lets her know whether she is on a day when pregnancy is likely or not and whether her cycle length is in the appropriate range for using this natural family planning method.
Efficacy studies conducted in several countries showed that when used correctly, CycleBeads and the Standard Days Method, are more than 95 percent effective in helping women avoid pregnancy.
In simple terms, less than 5 out of every 100 women who keep track of their cycle days and abstain from having unprotected intercourse on days 8 through 19 of their cycle days got pregnant during the first year of using the beads.
Women who failed to keep careful track of their cycle days or had unprotected intercourse on the same days were much more likely to get pregnant. For those that used the method correctly, but sometimes had unprotected intercourse on days 8 to 19, 12 out of 100 got pregnant during their first year of use. This means that in “typical use” CycleBeads’ effectiveness is approximately 88 percent. 
CycleBeads and the family planning method on which it is based, the Standard Days Method, were invented by the Institute for Reproductive Health at Georgetown University. The company, Cycle Technologies, launched CycleBeads in late 2002 once the efficacy results were published.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that as high as one third of maternal deaths could be prevented if unmet needs for family planning were to be eliminated. Unfortunately, 215 million women who want to avoid or delay pregnancy still have no access to modern contraception.
Speaking recently the International Family Planning Conference held in Dakar, Senegal, United Nations Population fund (UNFPA) executive director, Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, said, “As our numbers keep growing past 7 billion, and so many (people) suffer from poverty, poor health and lack of opportunities, it is more important than ever to ensure that every child is wanted and that everyone has the power and the right to manage their own fertility.”
CycleBeads are available and being used in over 50 countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia.
Ends…/

11 comments:

Chris Kakunta said...

This could be a useful method for our traditional women who wear beds for other traditional functions. Am sure if incorporated into traditional healthy systems it could play a significant role.

Anonymous said...

Mel this is no different from the "actual' traditional use of our very own beads except as always this was "patented" in some lab so it now comes as an innovation but really its the same bead system we learn in our traditional "ichisungu classes'! on the other hand as a reproductive health method am doubtful as what it does is prevents "you" from having unprotected sex but doesnt do much else in preventing your partner!

Douglas said...

Interesting stuff: always wondered what purpose those beads serve, now I know it is for family planning and prevention of unwanted pregnancies. Tradition working out a modern concept - wonderful perspective and shows how our ancestors' wisdom was just as good as western/contemporary mainstream thought on matters of sexual and reproductive health. Question is, why is that these beads have lost popularity, if they are meant to be of good serve as said in this article?

Matongo Maumbi said...

I think I should get some beads for my(self)...and get to know when she is safer. It's indeed interesting that traditional methods which our people have always used are ignored but given great attention when they come from the western agencies. Our government should do more in recognising and helping women with their reproductive and sexual rights. Lets help get rid of the inferiority complex that is gripping a lot of our tribesmen. The west develops what we already have here, let's promote our local creations. Good piece Meluse

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Stephen Kapambwe said...

The wearing of beads by our women is a very African thing. But I have always said one of the reasons why our culture diminishes in the face of western norms is that we do not beleieve in preserving our way of life through writing. There are many things that traditionalists know which can do a lot of good to us but they never consider putting any of that in a book, which means when they die, they take all the knowledge with them to the grave.
People have always know something about why women wear beads but until and unless someone records that in a book, that knowledge is bound to be lost and we will always be at the mercy of so-called western innovations.

Newton Sibanda said...

This is good article on the use of indigenous knowledge systems (IKS).

Meluse Kapatamoyo said...

Well said Matongo.Unfortunately, sex talk remains a taboo in Zambia and am sure in most African countries too.It's something you DO but not TALK about.Even the so called 21st century woman is reluctant to openly talk about it.I agree with you, a lot needs to be done to educate women on their reproductive and sexual rights.I believe most women know what they want but have never found their voice.

Meluse Kapatamoyo said...

I am not aware of any book that has been published particularly on BEADS. i hope i am wrong. Beads are indeed part of our African culture and while they played a major role in the lives traditional women, the 21st woman wants very little if anything to do with beads. Traditionalists have a duty to ensure that women/ men continue to appreciate it's use.

Meluse Kapatamoyo said...

Thanks for the support Newton.

Bernard Eric said...

There I cannot really talk as a man with, but me seems that this simple solution a good solution is.
Generally I would like to say that humans from industrialized countries much no more not to know and be able, which exists in other regions of our earth further.
One can learn from others if one goes around unreservedly together.

Original German:
Da kann ich als Mann nicht wirklich mireden, aber mir scheint dass diese einfache Lösung eine gute Lösung ist.
Allgemein möchte ich sagen dass Menschen aus Industrieländern vieles nicht mehr kennen und können, was in anderen Regionen unserer Erde weiterhin existiert.
Man kann von anderen lernen wenn man vorbehaltlos miteinander umgeht.