Conquering Infertility with. . .

The Mucus Method

This method is easy to learn, is free, and requires no expensive gadgets. All you do is use your fingers to give you the information you need to track down the beginning and end of your fertile periods. Used correctly, this method has a 97% effectively rate for contraception if abstinence is practiced at the fertile time. In fact, this technique is more effective than the combination of a diaphragm with spermicidal jelly. Experience is the key. This method becomes intuitive over time.

Charting is essential in learning the cycles and to see your individual patterns. The mucous is checked every time you urinate, just before you urinate. The mucous changes as the estrogen levels increase and decrease. Mucous changes are also influenced by nutrition. The mucous method is even more accurate than the temperature method .

The mucous is checked at the mouth of the vagina with the fingers, to observe the amount, texture and changing patterns throughout the month. The vaginal walls are always moist and the cervix always has mucous which changes at the vaginal entrance. Fertility depends on mucous being present throughout the vagina to protect the sperm.

The woman learns to observe the changes that take place in her cycle, record the observations in a meaningful way to her, and make decisions about her fertility, based on these observations.

It usually takes about three cycles to learn your individual pattern. By that time, you should be detoxified if you are following the detoxification program your naturopath has suggested.

Infertile mucous is described as sparse, thick, flaky, crumbly, dense, opaque, pasty and tacky. It is unchanging in amount.  It does not string when you separate your finger and thumb. The mucous increases and decreases as estrogen levels rise and fall. After ovulation, the luteal phase, where the ovary produces more progesterone, lasts 12-16 days. During this time the mucous reverts to the sparse, thick, tacky consistency. Sperm cannot survive in this mucous.  

The presence of fertile mucous does not necessarily indicate ovulation. It only indicates that the hormones have fluctuated. Other indicators of fluctuating hormone levels are PMS and spotting. Fertile mucous is thin, wet, fluidy, watery, slippery, translucent and increasing in amounts. Spinnbarkelt (extremely fertile mucous) resembles raw egg white and is slimy, stretchy, jelly-like and profuse. 

Spotting: May be a sign of implantation. 

The woman will want to record certain aspects of the mucous: 

1)     Amount and texture

2)     Color. White, clear, opaque, blood-tinged, bronze, other.

3)     External sensations. Note that one side of the vulva may become larger than the other side. The larger side indicates which ovary is releasing an egg. Another body change to observe is tenderness of lymph nodes one side or the other (underarm, breast, inside the upper thigh are common places to check lymph nodes)

4)     Secondary Symptoms: These include sexual desire, food cravings, emotional state, fatigue levels, energy level, fluid retention, breast signs, skin signs, bowel activity and movements, nausea/vomiting, headaches, pain (where and intensity), and cervical changes. 

Description of the mucous: The woman should use words which she is comfortable using. One word or a short phrase is best. The goal is to become consistent in which words one uses to describe the mucous so that she can track the hormonal changes of the mucous. 

It may take up to six cycles to build confidence in getting this method down, depending upon how aware you are of your body, how it feels and how it works. Remember, the optimum time for intercourse for conception is the day before ovulation. The eggs age within 12-24 hours after that and are not viable, but the sperm can survive in a healthy reproductive tract 3-5 days depending on the nutrition it receives from the fertile mucous. 

The sperm need fertile mucous for its nutrients and antimicrobial qualities. This mucous is special because it is more alkaline than the normally hostile acidic vagina. This fertile mucous also protects the sperm and provides swimming channels for it to glide up the reproductive tract to the fallopian tubes. The Fertility Period is defined as starting as soon as the mucous changes and lasts for three days after the mucous becomes thick again. 

The World Health Organization did a survey in five countries (including third world countries) and found that greater than 90% of the women were able to return interpretable charts within their first cycle, so the process is not that hard.   

The Temperature Method 

(Reviewed step-by-step in the Barnes Basal Metabolic Temperature handout.) 

After the mucous method is well established, this method may not need to be done on a daily basis, but it is important to learn it, as you will learn more things about your body, how it works, how it feels, and be able to be more accurate in tracking your ovulations.

This method will tell you about how the eggs are developing, but it won’t tell you if you have ovulated. It will also tell you about your thyroid function and give you clues as to whether or not you need to support your thyroid with certain herbs to increase your fertility.

Temperatures less than 96.6 indicate that your thyroid is low. If the first half of your cycle has low temperatures, you probably have thyroid issues. During the ovulation period, your temperature will rise for three consecutive days. The preceding 6 days will show a lower temperature. Temperature should be taken at the same time every day. The highest temperatures you will receive will be at 2 p.m. If you don’t take the temperature at the exact time you need to, you can extrapolate, because each ½ hour after you get up your temperature rises 1/10th of a degree Celsius.

Temperatures will be influenced by increase with too little sleep, fever, and alcohol. Of course alcohol is not appropriate for your preconception program. The hours slept should also be recorded on the chart. The body needs a minimum of 4 hours sleep to get an accurate basal metabolic temperature. Also record any travel across time zones. Also record disturbances of sleep.

Sleep apnea is influence by thyroid disease and insulin resistance. At least 4 hours of sleep is required to get an accurate basal metabolic temperature.

Secondary information: Record things like fever, sore throat, shivering, sweating, getting out of bed to go to the bathroom or answering the phone, and other unfavorable conditions on the daily chart.

Some women, once they have gotten the temperature method down, will only chart the temperature once they identify the mucous changes to confirm the rise in temperature.

Note: Breast feeding does not alter the body temperature.  

Advantages of the temperature method include:

  • You learn a lot about your body
  • Temperature charts are easier to interpret initially, until you get a consistent lingo down for your mucous chart.
  • Normally, your temperature will be slightly raised on day 25-26 of your cycle and will remain raised for 10-16 days.
  • If the mucous is influenced by bacteria and doesn’t change, the temperature will show change, so it can be used as a back-up system.
  • Temperature does confirm the start of the post-ovulatory phase
  • It can be used as an effective contraception technique and is 83-99% accurate when used correctly. Abstinence is practiced for the entire ovulatory phase.
  • It is helpful for learning the appearance of the mucous because you can tell when ovulation is about to occur with the rise in temperature for three consecutive days.
  • The temperature method confirms when ovulation is over. When used for a contraception technique, there should be no intercourse for three days after the post-ovulatory phase begins.
  • It can tell you when you have become pregnant as the temperature continues to rise as progesterone levels rise in the initial luteal phase (for 18-20 days post conception.)
  • The strength of the temperature rise is an indication of the adequacy of progesterone production (Progesterone is necessary to maintain pregnancy and prevent miscarriage. It also helps prevent PMS)
  • Confirms the length of the pre and post-ovulatory phases
  • Unprotected sex should be avoided until the temperature has risen for three consecutive days (this cuts down on the chances of the woman rejecting the sperm due to immune response.)

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