The medical community didn’t come to truly understand fertility cycles until 1928, according to Edmonson. In the decade that followed, Chicago physician Leo Latz capitalized on the emerging science and coined the term “rhythm method,” which would go on to play a central role in the natural birth control movement. The approach gave rise to a cottage industry of calendars and calculators to help women track their cycles and avoid having sex on the five or six days a month that they’re fertile. “Latz thought he was helping fellow his Catholics in a significant way,” Edmonson says. Not everyone agreed — a pamphlet on the rhythm method published by Latz in 1932 cost him his teaching post at Loyola University Medical School.
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