Can Natural Family Planning help some couples conceive?

A recent study published in the journal Human Fertility looked into the effectiveness of a  fertility-awareness method in achieving pregnancy. The study particularly observed factors associated with the achievement of pregnancy and the usefulness of the mucus pattern, in the context of infertility.

The authors of the study identified 384 eligible women who attended 17 Australian Billings Ovulation Method® and were achieving a pregnancy. Pregnancy was achieved by 240 couples (62.5%) who received instruction to identify mucus symptom observations after a follow-up of two years maximum.

The participants kept a diary record of observations of vulvar sensation and vaginal discharge following the Billings Ovulation Method®  criteria. A changing pattern of vulvar wetness or slippery sensation indicated hormonal activity and potential fertility. The authors stratified “low pregnancy potential” and “high pregnancy potential” according to mucus symptom observations.  Pregnancy rates were ∼30% higher in the high pregnancy potential” group (44.4% versus 72.3%). Also the “high pregnancy potential” group achieved pregnancy in a  shorter period of time (4.2 versus 6.4 months).

In conclusion, these findings indicate that the use of fertility awareness methods helps women to identify critical biomarkers of fertility that may be used to achieve a pregnancy. These methods “provide a rapid, reliable and cost-effective approach to stratifying fertility potential, including directing timely and targeted investigations/management, and is accessible for women who may be remote from primary or specialist care”.



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