Periodic abstinence means that a couple refrain from sex during the unsafe days of her period cycle. Dr. Billings who invented the Billings ovulation method wrote in his website the following sentence:
“Abstinence from genital contact during the days of possible fertility is required for the avoidance of pregnancy in all natural methods. They do not involve drug taking nor the use of any appliances, and acts of sexual intercourse are always normal.”
Two problems with periodic abstinence
This text contains the two problems with these natural methods:
1. Very few people have the will power to practice sexual abstinence. It is theoretically noble, but practically difficult to do. I say this with the experience of many years in general practice, where unplanned pregnancies lead to abortions on demand.
2. It is true that there is no side effect physically. However, couples feel often very anxious and sometimes as much under emotional pressure as a couple during a fertility work-up where pressure is felt from the expectation of well meaning relatives who want to have a grandchild so badly.
The emotional distress is not acceptable for every couple and the 99% success rate of contraception for some select, disciplined couple as cited by Dr. Billings is certainly laudable. I recommend to those who want to study the Billings method to visit the link above. However, if a couple cannot abstain from sexual relations for a period of 5 to 7 days (sometimes 10 days), it might be wise to study other birth control options (see link under “contraception”).
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