The first thing I thought of last week when I read that more teen girls are using the rhythm method was ... shit, I should create an app for this and get rich.
Too late. Already exists. If your teenage daughter has something on her iPhone called FertilityFriend or MeFertil, start sweating.
My second thought was this: We have really failed our children if today's teens think they're safe because they're calcuating their fertility calendars.
Remember, these are the same kids who forget their homework, their curfews and when to call home. They're going to remember what days of the month they're fertile? How many teenage girls are diligent enough to track their body temperature every morning with a thermometer and analyze the thickness of their cervical mucus? It takes up to six months of careful tracking before you can get a reliable account of ovulation periods. What teenage guy is going to wait around for that? And what teenage girls have regular periods to track anyway? This is not a method, it's madness.
Back in the very brief period of my life when I actually wanted to get pregnant, I tried to use an ovulation tracking kit. Three days later, my head exploded.
The rhythm method as a contraceptive has a failure rate of 25 percent. That means 25 out of 100 females using this method get pregnant (compared to a 2 percent failure rate for the pill and a 10 percent failure rate for condoms). Even if these rhythm girls don't get past elementary school math, let's hope they can figure out the odds are not in their favor. And let's say they somehow get lucky and don't get pregnant -- they're still not protected from AIDS, chlamydia and other STDs.
Teenage pregnancies have been dropping steadily for the last two decades, but in recent years this trend has flattened out, according to the new CDC report. Researchers are speculating the stall may be due to an uptick in the number of sexually experienced girls using the rhythm method. About 17 percent of the girls reported using it compared to 11 percent in 2002.
That may not seem like a huge increase. Unless your daughter was one of those whose rhythm was off.