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The Standard Days Method Explained

The Standard Days Method Explained

The standard days method or SDM is a calendar method that gives awareness on a woman’s fertility. It is used in family planning to identify fixed days in a woman’s menstrual period. It also helps determine the days she will likely get pregnant if she will have intercourse without protection.

How Effective Is the Standard Days Method?

The standard days method is shown to have a 95% efficacy when it is used properly. With correct usage, pregnancy can be effectively prevented, although it cannot protect both partners against sexually transmitted infections or STIs. If both partners do not want pregnancy to occur, it is best to avoid intercourse on the 8th until the 19th day of a regular menstrual cycle.

The standard days method may not be effective if:

  • You do not keep track or record your menstrual cycles
  • You have inconsistent periods
  • Your menstrual cycle is shorter than 26 days
  • Your menstrual cycle is longer than 32 days
  • Engaged in intercourse on Day 8 to 19 of the cycle
  • You have recently given birth or currently breastfeeding
  • Are taking hormonal contraceptives that may delay your cycle

You may want to consider the standard days method because of its ease of use, zero cost, and absence of adverse effects on the body. It not only informs you of your fertile and non-fertile days, but it also gives awareness to the length of your menstrual cycle.

How Does the Standard Days Method Work?

In the standard days method, you should expect to constantly follow and track your menstrual cycle. The following are some helpful tips:

Count the first bleeding of the month as the first day. To keep track of the menstrual cycle, you should count the first day of bleeding as Day 1 for the standard day method.

Avoid unprotected intercourse on the 8th and 19th day. These days are considered one of the most fertile days of the menstrual cycle. If unprotected intercourse does occur on these days, make sure to use emergency contraception to prevent pregnancy and STIs.

Use a memory aid when necessary. People who wish to use the standard days method can use an app, a calendar to mark the days, or even a physical string of beads called CycleBeads that aid you in keeping track of your cycle.

How Does It Work Using CycleBeads?

CycleBeads are beads on a long string that help keep track of your menstrual cycle. The red beads indicate the usual bleeding days in a menstrual period while the white ones represent the days wherein you are likely to become pregnant. The brown beads on the other hand indicate days wherein pregnancy is unlikely.

Simply put, white beads are fertile days, and brown beads are infertile days.

Here are the steps on how to use the CycleBeads:

  1. Count the first day of the standard days method on the day you first bleed in a month. Make sure that the black rubber ring is on this first bead as a reminder.
  2. When the next day comes, move the rubber ring onto the next bead clockwise. This should be done each day, whether you are bleeding on your period or not.
  3. Once the rubber ring lands on the white beads, avoid having unprotected intercourse since you have finally reached the days where you are most fertile.
  4. Once the rubber ring moves onto the brown beads, you may now engage in unprotected sex.
  5. Keep moving the beads until it goes back to the first bead. Repeat the standard days method for the next month if you experienced no complications.

If you start to bleed before the dark brown bead, it means that your menstrual cycle is not longer than 26 days. But if it does not reach the expected days, the standard days method may not be as effective as the usual contraceptive methods.

If you do not start bleeding before you reach the last brown bead on the CycleBeads, it means that your menstrual cycle is not shorter than 32 days. The delay and inconsistency of your cycle may not fully utilize the effectiveness of the standard days method.

Key Takeaways

The standard days method can be used as a manual family planner that makes you aware of days where you are most fertile. Memory aids like calendars, apps, and CycleBeads can help you remember and keep track of your cycle. Although it cannot be used by women who have inconsistent menstrual cycles, those who can use it should consider going through the method since it is relatively cost-effective and has no side effects.

Learn more about Safe Sex here.

Ovulation Calculator

Ovulation Calculator

Tracking your period cycle, determines your most fertile days and increases your chance of conceiving or applying for birth control.

Ovulation Calculator

Tracking your period cycle, determines your most fertile days and increases your chance of conceiving or applying for birth control.

Ovulation Calculator

Cycle Length

(days)

28

Period Duration

(days)

7

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

The Standard Days Method of Family Planning: A Response to Cairo, https://www.guttmacher.org/journals/ipsrh/2003/11/standard-days-method-family-planning-response-cairo, Accessed October 22, 2021

Standard Days Method, https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/contraception/mmwr/spr/days.html, Accessed October 22, 2021

Standard Days Method, https://irh.org/standard-days-method/, Accessed October 22, 2021

What’s the Standard Days method?, https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/fertility-awareness/whats-standard-days-method, Accessed October 22, 2021 

Explaining How to Use Calendar-Based Methods, https://www.fphandbook.org/explaining-how-use-calendar-based-methodshttps://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/fertility-awareness/whats-standard-days-method, Accessed October 22, 2021

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Written by Angeli Del Rosario Updated May 12
Medically reviewed by Regina Victoria Boyles, MD