Natural fertility Awareness
There are two main elements to Natural Fertility Awareness.
- basal body temperature (BBT)
- cervical fluid
Each of these is checked on a daily basis and recorded on a chart allowing you to build up a picture of your cycles.
See a sample ovulation chart.
The progesterone increase after ovulation causes your body's resting temperature to rise by at least 0.1 degree centigrade.
So, by taking your temperature every morning at the same time, and charting the results, you can observe the increase which will confirm you have ovulated. Because the increase occurs after ovulation it can only confirm it has taken place - it cannot indicate egg release in advance. But used over time, measuring your temperature allows a better knowledge of your cycle.
Your BBT can also predict when your period will start. The point of ovulation can vary, but once your temperature has risen and you are in your luteal phase, you'll find that the number of days in that part of your cycle varies by only one or two each month. And, if you have 18 days of raised temperatures, the chances are that you're pregnant!
Your temperature must be taken as soon as you wake up, before you move, talk, have a cup of tea, anything! Try and take it at the same time each morning as it will go up with each extra half hour you have in bed. Record any major fluctuations in time on your chart.
Obviously you'll need a thermometer. Digital is best. The ones you use in your ear are no good. If you can get a fahrenheit one, all the better as they are more sensitive. But - being in the UK - the chances are you'll have to settle for centigrade (which is fine). You don't need a specific BBT thermometer (in fact they're almost impossible to find in the UK anyway).
Again, hormonal fluctuations mean the consistency of your cervical fluid changes throughout the month. To check the consistency you can wipe with toilet paper before urinating, or insert a finger.
|Menstruation (your period)||Discharge is predominately blood (red / brown). No need for any further checking.|
|Sticky||As your period ends you'll find you produce either no fluid, or fluid that is dry and sticky. The vagina feels dry (except when sexually stimulated). Any fluid produced is hostile to sperm - they cannot survive in it.|
|Wet & creamy||As oestrogen levels increase you will notice a wet or watery feeling and an increase in fluid which is slippery when rubbed between the fingers. It may take some time to dry, and feels creamy, almost like lotion. This is fertile quality; sperm can survive in it, and you should be making love at least every other day once you get this. May last several days.|
|Egg white||At peak fertility (when the egg is about to be released), your cervical fluid is likely to reach a consistency very similar to egg white. It is very slippery and can stretch an amazingly long way between your fingers! However, not all women get this - some do not progress beyond wet, and that should not affect your ability to conceive. Others may have it for just a few hours up to three days.|
|Sticky||After ovulation you will return to sticky or no fluid.|
If you consistently find it hard to detect the changes we've outlined, you may not be ovulating. If so, you should visit your GP for some initial tests.