Chapter 17: Family planning
The counting days method
With the counting days method, a woman does not have sexual intercourse during
any time that she might be fertile. This method can only be used by women with
regular cycles that last between 26 and 32 days. This means that the time from the
first day of one monthly bleeding to the first day of her next monthly bleeding
must be at least 26 days, and no more than 32 days.
This method will usually work for a woman who has nearly the same number of
days from one monthly bleeding to the next (regular cycles). But if a woman has
one cycle of a different length, she can easily get pregnant. It is common for a
woman to have a cycle of a different length when she is sick or feeling a lot of
stress. When a woman is sick or feeling stress, it is best for her to use a different
family planning method until she is well and her cycle is normal.
How to use the counting days method
For this method to work, the woman cannot
have sexual intercourse from the 8th day of
her cycle through the 19th day of her cycle.
If she has sexual intercourse during this
time, she must use another method of
I started my
monthly bleeding 8 days
ago. So we cannot have
sex today, or for the
next 10 days.
I better go to
Women can use beads, a chart, or some other tool to remember
their fertile days. String 32 beads, of 3 different colors, into a necklace.
Each color bead can represent a different part of the woman’s cycle.
13 more blue
beads show days
intercourse will not
A red bead
marks the first
day of monthly
6 blue beads show
days when sexual
intercourse will not
12 white beads show the
fertile time — when sexual
On the first day of her monthly bleeding, the woman puts a ring
or string around the red bead. Each day, she moves the ring past
one bead. When the ring is on any of the white beads, she may get
pregnant if she has sexual intercourse. Whenever she starts her next
monthly bleeding, she moves the ring back to the red bead at the start.
You may be able to buy a necklace like this called CycleBeads.
A Book for Midwives (2010)