Good morning!! If you missed my post yesterday about the basics of a woman’s fertility cycle, check it out here.
Today we are going to talk about mucus-only methods of NFP. This is going to be a general overview and SHOULD NOT substitute for taking a class with a certified instructor or taking a home study course.
**TMI WARNING** This post will contain images of Cervical Mucus. If you haven’t had breakfast or are easily queasy while looking at body fluids… you have been warned.
Generally speaking, there are two mucus-only methods of NFP: Billings Ovulation Method (BOM) and the Creighton Model Fertility Care System (CrMS.)
In 1953, Dr. John Billings independently discovered a connection between cervical mucus and fertility. Dr. Billings instructed couples using the rhythm method to avoid intercourse on all days, and for a few days after, they noticed vaginal discharge. This advice lead to a decrease in unintended pregnancies among the couples.
In 1976, Dr. Thomas Hilgers began research into what is now known as the Creighton Model Fertility Care System. Dr. Hilgers describes CrMS as a “standardized modification of BOM,” however the Billings have refuted this and have maintained that the two are different methods and should not be seen as interchangeable.
At the heart of each method are mucus observations. As we talked about yesterday, as a hormones change in the woman’s body, it causes a change in her cervical mucus. It is in observing and charting these changes that non-fertile and fertile periods can be determined.
Non-fertile days (low likelihood of pregnancy) are generally characterized by the absence of cervical mucus (DRY DAYS) or the presence of cervical mucus observed to be “tacky” or “sticky.” This mucus may take on a cloudy and/or thick appearance and will tend to break when stretched between two fingers.
Fertile days (high likelihood of pregnancy) are characterized by what can be described as “Egg white” mucus, because… it looks like egg whites. The mucus will be clear, shiny and stretchy. When wiping after voiding the bladder or having a bowel movement, the woman may observe a slippery sensation. During her daily activities, she may feel a wet or watery sensation as well.
In both methods, observations are recorded on a chart using colored stickers and/or symbols:
Billings Chart (source)
Creighton Chart (source)
The differences in the two methods seem to primarily surround how and when the mucus observations are made. The CrMS is said to be more “scientific” primarily because the observations made are not as objective and require visual observation, not just physical sensation.
-mucus observations are made by the changing sensations felt at the vulva throughout the day or by occasional direct observations of cervical mucus.
-recording is done at the end of the day and is comprised of the characteristics noted throughout the day
-when FIRST learning the method, the couple is asked to abstain for 2-4 weeks while continuous observations are made. This is done so cervical mucus is not confused with semen or other by-products of intercourse or genital contact.
-Observations are made by wiping the vulva (before and after voiding the bladder or bowel movements) with a flat, folded tissue, front to back. Visual and physical observations are made every time the toilet is visited.
-Observations include “sensation” (slippery, dry, tacky), “color” (yellow, white, clear) and “consistency” (thick, thin.) The latter two sensations are made by using finger checks and stretching the mucus between fingers.
-The final check is made right before bed time and after bearing down. The most “fertile” sign of the day is recorded and how often that observation was made.
-Also requires a period of abstinence while learning the method
So what’s the big difference? NaPro Technology.
NaPro technology is short for Natural Procreative Technology. The goal of NaPro is to determine and treat underlying causes of infertility by doctors specially trained to read Creighton charts. NaPro also provides physicians with clear and concise protocols for surgeries and other invasive techniques. In addition to treating infertility, NaPro technology can also assist women in diagnosing other reproductive issues like recurring miscarriage, PMS, irregular bleeding, infections, ovarian cysts, PCOS and endometriosis.
Now let’s turn to you!
Do you use one of the mucus only methods? What do you love about it? What do you hate? Tell us about it!
Tomorrow: the Symptothermal Method and the Marquette Method
Thursday: Guest Post
Friday: Seven Quick Takes- Talking NFP with your husband
Saturday: Lactational Amenorrhea/ PostPartum Charting
Sunday: Non-religious Reasons to use NFP