What Fertility Awareness Methods are there?
Over the years, various Natural Family Planning methods have developed:
Calendar tracking method
This method is based on the assumption that every menstrual cycle has a duration of 28 days and that ovulation takes place 14 days before the start of the next menstruation. An egg can be fertilised for about 24 hours, sperm can survive in the woman's upper genital tract for up to five days. A woman is therefore capable of fertilisation for about five to six days every month.
However, not every woman's cycle lasts exactly 28 days, and at the same time the length of the cycle can vary from month to month. So in order to make the method a little more individual, additional days are added before and after ovulation, i.e. the "fertile phase" is mathematically extended in order to achieve greater contraceptive certainty.
This method does not offer real security because the day of ovulation cannot be determined exactly. Even in the opposite case, i.e. when you want to have children, this is often difficult.
Cycle fluctuations and shifts in ovulation (e.g. due to illnesses, stress) can additionally influence safety.
Basal body temperature method
This fertility awareness method is based on the fact that your body temperature changes over the course of your menstrual cycle. At the time of ovulation or on the fertile days, the temperature inside the body - doctors call it the basal body temperature - is slightly higher than usual. If the body temperature on three consecutive days is at least 0.2 degrees higher than the last six days before, it is assumed that ovulation has occurred ("three over six" rule). The time of ovulation itself is the lowest point of the body temperature before the rise.
This method therefore assumes that regular measurement and recording of the temperature can help to determine your fertile days.
One of the disadvantages of this method is its relatively high complexity and effort: The average temperature must be recorded over a longer period of time and you must make sure that the temperature is always taken using the same method, the same thermometer and at the same time of day. After at least five hours of sleep, immediately after waking up and before getting up or doing any other activity, such as eating or drinking, the basal body temperature can be measured in the mouth (rectum or vagina are also possible). After that the value has to be noted. Any circumstances that may affect the body temperature, such as illness, also have to be collected.
Another disadvantage is that this method doesn’t inform you about your fertile days in advance. You only know that you’ve ovulated after it actually happened, and since sperm can survive for up to five days in your upper genital tract, this method alone is not suitable for contraception or for supporting you while trying to conceive.
The Cervical mucus method (or Billings Method)
This method aims to determine ovulation. Here, you check the colour and consistency of the mucus that flows out of your vagina a few days before ovulation (cervical mucus, which comes out of the cervix) on a swab or on your fingers. A few days before ovulation, the mucus becomes noticeable. It now becomes increasingly fluid, clearer and finally stringy. After ovulation it quickly returns to a slightly milky, cloudy, somewhat viscous consistency.
Requirement: there is no genital infection, for example.
The Symptothermal method
This procedure is a combination of the temperature and cervical mucus method.
Both measured data are entered in a corresponding table to document your cycle. In addition to this combination, the woman regularly examines the cervix, which also shows unmistakable signs of the fertile days. During the fertile days, the cervix is significantly softer, covered with more cervical mucus and allows easier palpation of the now larger cervical opening. On the non-fertile days, however, the cervix is much drier and the opening harder and smaller.
This is definitely our favorite among all fertility awareness methods.
By tracking your hormones you are measuring the actual triggers for all the symptoms like changes in temperature or cervical mucus: your hormones. There are different possibilities when it comes to hormone tracking- with some being more advanced than others. One possibility would be to go with a standard Ovulation Predictor Kit, which usually include some urine test strips for your Luteinizing Hormone (LH). By exposing those test strips to morning urine, you can measure the concentration of LH in your body. If two lines appear on the test strip it means that your LH concentration is high and that ovulation is imminent, since one of the jobs of your Luteinizing Hormone is to trigger ovulation.
However, it can be hard to determine how strong the lines on the strips appear solely by looking at them. This is why some digital solutions which help to analyze the test strip result came into play.
We even took it one step further: With Pearl Fertility you not only measure your Luteinizing Hormone,
but also your Follicle Stimulating Hormone levels daily and collect your hormonal data throughout the whole cycle. Therefore, this method lets you keep track of your fertile days and ovulation in real time while also providing you with a more thorough analysis of your menstrual cycle than common ovulation prediction kits or fertility tracking devices. You can find out more about this technology here.