First-of-its kind Free SMS based service in India will provide 100% natural family planning method with no side effects, based on scientifically proven Standard Days Method (SDM)
· Campaign designed for married couples interested in family planning issues such as maintaining age gap between babies and preventing unplanned/ unwanted pregnancies.
The Institute for Reproductive Health (IRH) at Georgetown University has introduced an SMS-based service called CycleTel Humsafar that helps women avoid unwanted pregnancies. CycleTel Humsafar is a mHealth service that offers 100% natural family planning method with no side effects, based on the scientifically proven Standard Days Method (SDM). SDM is 95% effective when used correctly.
“CycleTel Humsafar is completely natural, which is a major draw for the 21 per cent of women in India who have an unmet need for family planning issues. One does not require a consultation with a doctor to use CycleTel Humsafar,” said Ramya Kancharla, Country Head, CycleTel Hamsafar.
The mobile service helps the woman identify the possibility of pregnancy on any given day. “It identifies a fixed set of days in each menstrual cycle as the days when a woman can get pregnant if she has intercourse without protection,” added Kancharla.
On the occasion, Nicki Ashcroft, Program Officer for mHealth, Georgetown Institute for Reproductive Health said, “Women with cycles between 26 and 32 days long are fertile in the middle of their menstrual cycle, that is, between days 8 and 19. If the woman does not want to get pregnant, she and her partner can avoid unprotected intercourse on days 8 through 19 of her cycle.”
This free SMS health service is accessible to anyone with a mobile phone. CycleTel Humsafar sends the user a few discreet messages each month so that she can keep her choices private, between herself and her husband. CycleTel Humsafar personalizes the flow of messages according to a woman’s menstrual cycle and her unique responses.
In an efficacy study conducted in several countries by various institutions, researchers found that when used correctly, SDM is more than 95%effective in helping women avoid unwanted pregnancy. This means that fewer than 5 of every 100 women who keep track of their cycle and do not have unprotected intercourse on days 8 through 19 of their cycles become pregnant during the first year of using the SDM. Based on this research, SDM compares favourably to other contraceptive options both in ‘Correct Use’ effectiveness (95%) and ‘Typical Use’ effectiveness (88%).
“An interesting part of the service is that it engages men in family planning and encourages communication between couples. Interviews with men during formative research indicated that they were also interested in receiving the unsafe day alerts,” Ramya Kancharla further added.
However, not everyone is eligible to practice Standard Days Method. CycleTel Humsafar’s custom developed logic will ask the user to answer three screening questions and enter her last period date to ascertain if she is eligible to use this method (that is, whether it will work for the user or not).
If the user iseligible,the method identifies the likely days for her to get pregnant. These days are called unsafe days, and one should avoid unprotected intercourse on these days to avoid pregnancy. On each of the unsafe days the user receives a reminder message.
To start using this service, a woman does not have to visit a health provider. She just needs to SMS 9871192323 and type JOIN for English, JUDIYE for Hinglish, and 1 for Hindi.
The CycleTel Humsafar service can also be availed by calling the toll free number: – 1800 1800 8000. The customer care service screens users through specific questions asked by trained female counsellors. If eligible, users get personalized messages based on their cycle.