TTC? Study Says Ovulation Predication Method Can Boost Pregnancy Odds
According to a new study, women who faithfully use this technique to track ovulation and pinpoint peak fertility days are twice as likely to get pregnant. Want to give it a try?
Women who faithfully use this technique to track ovulation and pinpoint peak fertility days are twice as likely to get pregnant than women who don’t.
The secret to their conception success?
Cervical mucus monitoring.
According to a recent study from researchers at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, women who regularly checked their cervical mucus as part of fertility monitoring were 2.3 times more likely to get pregnant over a six-month period than those who didn’t check.
What’s so special about cervical mucus? When it comes to fertility, turns out, a lot. To keep it simple, the hormones that control ovulation also make the cervix produce mucus that collects on the cervix and in the vagina. As hormone levels rise and fall over the course of a normal menstrual and ovulation cycle, cervical mucus changes in color and consistency right along with them. For example, during the earlier phases of the menstrual cycle, women may notice very little cervical mucus or feel only slight dampness.
However, in the days around ovulation — aka a woman’s “peak fertility” time — rising estrogen levels make cervical mucus thinner in appearance and noticeably more slippery to the touch, both changes that help sperm swim to the ripe and ready egg more easily. After the egg is released, a spike in progesterone causes mucus to thicken and darken in color as it acts as a barrier to other sperm. In other words, thin and slippery? All systems are probably go. Whitish or yellowish? Your window of opportunity may be closing for the month.
In the UNC study, researchers followed 331 women ages 30 to 45 with no known fertility problems who had been trying to conceive for three months or less. Women were asked to monitor their cervical discharge daily and classify as one of four types: type 1, dry or nonexistent; type 2, damp; type 3, thick and white or yellowish; and type 4, transparent and slippery.
Monitoring cervical mucus may not be for the squeamish, which is the first thing researchers found out. Over 50 percent of the women — or about 160 of the 331 women — didn’t follow through with checking their cervical mucus. Your doctor or midwife is the best one to give you directions on how to do it, but the process typically involves sweeping the vagina with your fingers to collect a sample and then stretching it between the fingers to check consistency.
How many women kept up with monitoring their cervical mucus? Just five percent. But when researchers checked back with all women after six months, it was this five percent that was much more likely to have already conceived.
There’s more research to back up these findings, too, in the form of other studies that have found that women having intercourse on days when they had type 4 — thin and slippery — mucus were at least two to three times more likely to get pregnant than if they had intercourse on days when they had type 1 or type 2 mucus.
What else does cervical monitoring have over other methods of tracking ovulation? Compared to ovulation predication kits, it’s a free and relatively simple process. And as Maryland mom Julie Roehm, who is in her third month of TTC her second child, says, if it can help her get pregnant faster, why not? Her reasoning is simple: “Compared to all the bodily fluids I had to deal with after giving birth, this sounds like a cake walk!”
Will you give it a try?
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