Getting Pregnant For Dummies
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In natural family planning (abstinence when the woman is most likely to be fertile), a woman's cervical mucus can be used as an indicator of fertility. Monitor the condition of cervical mucus while using the calendar method to better predict fertile days and lessen the risk of unintended pregnancy.

How to monitor cervical mucus

A woman’s cervical mucus thins out when she is ovulating to allow the sperm to pass through. By continually checking the cervical mucus, you can notice when it begins to thin out, indicating that the woman has ovulated. Because this can be tricky, many hospitals offer classes on how to identify the changes in your mucus if you plan to try this technique.

Advantages of monitoring cervical mucus

Because this is really an accompaniment to the calendar method, the same advantages apply: it does not require any doctor appointments (although the hospital class is highly recommended) and it comes without side effects. It also can work as an indicator that the calendar method is working.

As with the basal body temperature method, this is a reliable method of telling when a woman has ovulated, which is useful information if you are trying to become pregnant.

Disadvantages of monitoring cervical mucus

The same disadvantages of the calendar method apply as well: it is not a particularly reliable method of birth control, especially for women with irregular cycles. Outside factors can also affect cervical mucus. For example, the consistency of a woman’s cervical mucus can change if she has a vaginal infection, of which she might not be aware.

Remember that cervical mucus does not let you know when you will soon be ovulating, but sperm can live up to seven days inside the vagina. Any sperm deposited ahead of time can still impregnate the woman. This means that you must also follow the calendar method, which precludes sex during much of the month.

If you are not absolutely positive that your partner is free from sexually transmitted diseases, a condom must be in place before attempting intercourse.

About This Article

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About the book authors:

Lisa A. Rinehart has been involved in reproductive medicine in the Chicago area for 25 years, currently as a health care attorney and medical practice consultant. She is the executive director of the Kevin J. Lederer LIFE foundation, an active member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, and a frequent speaker on all aspects of reproductive law. Dr. John S. Rinehart has maintained an exclusive practice in infertility and reproductive endocrinology in the Chicago area for 35 years. He completed his residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Johns Hopkins Hospital and his fellowship in reproductive endocrinology at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital. He serves as a senior attending physician with North Shore University HealthSystem and as a senior clinic educator for the Pritzker School of Medicine for The University of Chicago.

Dr. John Rinehart has maintained his practice in infertility and reproductive endocrinology for 35 years. He is a Senior Educator at the Pritzker School of Medicine. Lisa Rinehart is a healthcare attorney and medical practice consultant and a frequent speaker on reproductive law. Jackie Thompson is the author of Fertility For Dummies and Infertility For Dummies. She is also a former fertility patient. Jackie Meyers-Thompson is managing partner of Coppock-Meyers Public Relations/J.D. Thompson Communications. She is the author of Fertility For Dummies and Infertility For Dummies.

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