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IPPF Medical Bulletin. 1982 Dec; 16(6):2-3.IPPF does not advise that periodic abstinence be considered an equal alternative to more effective family planning methods because of findings from recent, carefully conducted trials that show unusually high failure and discontinuation rates compared with other methods. Periodic abstinence for family planning depends upon identifying the fertile phase of the menstrual cycle which occurs around the time of ovulation and avoiding sexual intercourse during that time. Abstinence is sometimes necessary during a large part of the cycle because of the difficulty of accurately predicting the fertile phase. In recent major studies, almost 20% of women using the sympto-thermal method became pregnant within a year, as did about 25% of those using the cervical mucus method, compared with less than 5% of those using oral contraceptives or IUDs. The sympto-thermal method appears more effective than the cervical mucus method, but both show wide ranges of pregnancy and discontinuation rates among different groups of women. Nevertheless, family planning associations should familiarize themselves with the periodic abstinence techniques for couples for whom periodic abstinence techniques for couples for whom periodic abstinence is the only choice. Such couples should be clearly informed that the method is not considered an effective method of family planning. Periodic abstinence is better than no method, however, and various other benefits can be obtained, such as knowledge of female physiology. Couples may identify the fertile phase to use barrier methods only on days estimated to be fertile, and it may lead to use of more effective contraception. Methods of detecting ovulation are also useful in diagnosis and treatment of infertility.