It is not uncommon for a woman who begins trying to achieve a pregnancy to become stressed after trying for only a few months. Some jump to the conclusion that something may be wrong and seek costly infertility treatment. A new study found that many women are unaware of a simple method to determine when they are the most fertile. It also noted that women who used this simple method doubled their chance s of achieving a pregnancy. The study was published online on July 12 in the journal Fertility and Sterility by researchers affiliated with the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
The researchers conducted a study to determine whether the use of cervical mucus monitoring by women trying to conceive would enhance the likelihood of achieving a pregnancy. The study group comprised 331 women trying to conceive, aged 30 to 44 years who did not have any known infertility problems.
During the first cycle of the study, cervical mucus monitoring was performed consistently (checked on 66% or more of pertinent cycle days) by 20 women (6%), inconsistently (34% to 66% of days) by 60 women (18%), infrequently (≤33% of days) by 73 women (22%), and not performed by 178 women (54%). The investigators found that cycles in which cervical mucus monitoring was consistently performed were statistically significantly more likely to result in conception after adjusting for age, race, previous pregnancy, body mass index, intercourse frequency, and urinary luteinizing hormone (LH) monitoring. Fecundability (pregnancy rate) also increased with increasing consistency of cervical mucus monitoring. (Urinary LH monitoring refers to the use of test kits that measure a rise in LH when ovulation occurs.)
The researchers concluded that among women trying to conceive, cervical mucus monitoring is uncommon; however, their study suggests that cervical mucus monitoring, a free, self-directed method to determine the fertile window, is associated with increased fecundability independent of intercourse frequency or use of urinary LH monitoring.
How to perform cervical mucus monitoring:
- Purchase a small portable calendar or notepad. Be prepared to check your cervical mucus consistency several times every day during each cycle.
- Using white tissue paper, wipe vaginal opening to obtain a cervical mucus specimen, or insert one clean finger into vagina as far up as the cervix, and then remove finger. Cervical mucus should be observable on fingertip.
- If using tissue, apply a fingertip to collected CM and then pull gently away to test elasticity.
- If using finger, test CM elasticity by closing and again opening finger with thumb.
- Note the following:
- Elasticity of cervical mucus: (a) sticky and breaks easily or (b) slippery and stretches like raw egg white.
- Appearance of cervical mucus: scant amount vs. abundant; white vs. cloudy vs. clear; thick vs. thin.
- Note and date your observations regarding elasticity and appearance at the end of each day.
- As fertility approaches, the cervical mucus should gradually change from dry to wet, from sticky to slippery, and from white to transparent.
- The most fertile cervical is very thin and very slippery, often referred to as eggwhite cervical mucus.
- If you observe several different types of cervical mucus during one day, record the observation with the more fertile characteristics.
- The last day on which fertile cervical mucus (eggwhite cervical mucus) is observed is considered peak fertility day.
- Also note days on which sexual intercourse occurs and any bodily discomforts such as lower abdominal and pelvic pain. This pain is known as mittelschmerz (German for “middle pain”) and is a sign of ovulation. About 20% of women experience mittelschmerz, some every cycle, some intermittently.
After you havee become accustomed to observing your cervical mucus, use the following characters to distinguish your notes: P for menstruation or any spotting, D for dry, M for sticky white cervical mucus, and F for slippery transparent cervical mucus. Generally, a normally fertile pattern will be 3 to 5 Ps, a few Ds, 2 or more Ms, and 1 to 4 Fs.