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Benin study on paper version of SDM shows promise for increasing family planning

Friday, April 6, 2012

 C-Change and Georgetown University’s Institute for Reproductive Health (IRH) disseminated a report on results of a study  on the direct-to-consumer distribution of the paper version of Standard Days Method® (SDM), at a meeting in Cotonou, Benin on March 27, 2012. The executive summary is available in English and French.

SDM is an approach to family planning that helps women to identify the “fertile window” during their menstrual cycles when they are most likely to become pregnant. CycleBeads®, a string of colored beads developed by IRH, is a visual tool to assist women using SDM to keep track of their fertile periods.

SDM has potential to expand contraceptive choice in Benin where there is a 30 percent rate of unmet need for family planning and a fertility rate of 4.9 children per woman in urban areas and 6.3 in rural areas. SDM is low cost and a one-time purchase and can be offered in clinics and community-based programs. To increase awareness, IRH led an intervention to encourage use of the paper version of CycleBeads® and to investigate wider distribution directly to the consumer.

Study results indicated that the paper version was well accepted by potential users and healthcare providers: images, messages, instructions, and diagrams used in the intervention were understood and the paper bead colors were liked. During a two-month period, nearly 1,800 of the paper SDM were disseminated outside the health sector through kiosks and hair salons in Cotonou. Findings also showed that this direct-to-consumer approach was effective; healthcare providers received more enquiries about modern family planning methods including SDM, and sales of CycleBeads increased during this period.

A hair salon manager who attended the dissemination meeting testified that women enthusiastically took home the paper SDM. Attendees discussed a recommendation that a hotline be used to connect users with call respondents trained in SDM. The overall conclusion was that larger-scale distribution of the paper SDM beyond traditional service delivery points could improve awareness and uptake of SDM.

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