April 1, 2008
Cycle Beads: Another Bad Idea In Birth Control

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: what do you call people who use the rhythm method?


In a similar vein: what do you call people who use Cycle Beads?

Parents with ugly jewelry.

We’re not sure who thought this bracelet (which looks like something you made at summer camp, then promptly threw away once school started up again) was the next new thing in birth control. Yes, we understand the appeal of using “natural” methods to control fertility; but we’re also very, very aware that women’s cycles are only moderately predictable at best, and always subject to shifts (especially if a woman is stressed, gets sick, or one of a million other things that might throw off the cycle).

And honestly, if they were going to make a rhythm method bracelet — couldn’t they at least have made something that looks good?

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  • The Scoot says :

    Ugh… as a Catholic, anything that reminds me of the Rosary is certainly not going to make me want to have sex.

  • Lux Alptraum says :

    The Scoot:

    … maybe that’s the point.

  • Patrick Di Justo says :

    Really? As a victim of 15 years of Catholic schooling, anything that smacks of desecration or misuse of holy vessels (viz. Catholic school girl uniforms) affects me like Super-Erecto-Crack.

  • Jen says :

    I wonder if one day there will be platinum cycle beads. A few months ago I started researching various different forms of BC choices and came across this. I’m all for natural methods but geez.

  • Desiree says :

    The Cycle Beads are not actually meant to be worn. The ring is too large to be worn as a bracelet. They’re meant to serve more as a visual reminder.

    That said, I agree. Fertility awareness is great when both parties are disciplined and have excellent communication (and the woman’s cycle is very regular) but is a method of birth control I’d only recommend to a couple that wouldn’t particularly mind if a pregnancy occurred.

    Everyone else should seek birth control methods that are more readily controlled.

  • Lux Alptraum says :


    Thanks for the clarification — I guess I just assumed that the idea was that you’d wear them, and thus get the visual reminder by seeing them every day.

    I’ve always been of the opinion that fertility awareness is better as a method to increase chances of pregnancy than one to avoid it entirely.

  • Congogirl says :

    Normally these are used in developing countries that ARE largely Catholic and where, even if other methods of birth control are available, use may not be accepted. Even if there is a PSI or FHI or MSF whose goal is to promote reproductive health, there’s no saying a woman will get there or be able to afford it. They can’t just hop on down to the local Planned Parenthood, ya know?

    So I think it’s potentially empowering for these women to understand their cycle and at least have some means of visualizing it, talking about it with husband, and potentially convincing him to use a condom during those 12 days when she might be fertile. It’s also a way to predict fertility for people who want to get pregnant.

  • Lux Alptraum says :


    Again, thanks for the insight.

    The predicting fertility part I get (and it makes sense to me) — and thanks for jolting me out of my first world mindset.

  • Cosigning... says :

    I second CongoGirl’s explanation. CycleBead’s target group is not women of the developed world.

  • Nikki says :

    I wonder if anyone who has made comments about CycleBeads, has actually looked at any of the research that went into the development of the system. A study done by Georgetown University shows that the Standard Days System, on which CycleBeads are based, is about as effective as male condoms in preventing pregnancy. For women who have good communication with their partner, and who are willing to forgo intercourse on days they are most likely to be fertile, and who cannot for various reasons use other methods of birth control, it can be a good option.

    And in case you are wondering, I am a STRONGLY pro-choice women who works in an abortion clinic, and who also has gotten pregnant while using birth control pills, vand had severe problems with otehr hormone methods. I’ve never gotten pregnant using a fertility awareness method (of which the Stardard Days Method is just one), or using condoms. This is a method that CAN work, and if you look at the research, you’d see that.

  • Congogirl says :

    To Nikki: Yes, I have looked into the research. The main drawback of using the Standard Days Method is that a woman’s cycle has to be regular and fall within a certain length window for it to work. If her cycle does not meet certain parameters, the method will not work. Typically, the method is recommended only for women in a longterm committed relationship and with a backup method during the fertile days (latter - unless you work for a Catholic organization as I did, and then the backup method is not necessarily promoted).

  • Divine says :

    CycleBeads, like many different types of BC are not for everyone. As you and the other posters said, they’re only good if you have fairly regular cycles and are in a committed relationship with someone you can communicate with and trust. That doesn’t make them a “bad” idea, just a bad idea for some people.

  • Jen says :

    Why all the hate? I’ve been using them for 2 years and I love them. Reading through the literature it seems that about 80% of women have cycles between 26 and 32 days long. So no, they aren’t meant for everyone, but they cover a lot of people. And they are easy to use. You don’t have to have an advanced medical degree to prevent pregnancy naturally.

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Lux Alptraum
Monica Shores