Tracking Fertility Naturally

By Teresa Fredericks
Interviewed by Melissa Moniz
Wednesday - October 14, 2009
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Teresa Fredericks
Registered nurse, certified instructor of Billings Ovulation Method of Natural Family Planning

What is the Billings Ovulation Method?

The Billings Ovulation Method is basically fertility awareness, so the woman knows her fertile days and non-fertile days. It’s a natural method used to either try to achieve or avoid pregnancy. You can use it at any stage of a woman’s fertility: from the time she begins her menstruation, coming off the pill, breast-feeding, through premenopause. Each woman has an individual cycle. The myth is that if a woman doesn’t ovulate every month she’s abnormal. That’s just not true, because we all are different. So what the Billings Method is based on is day-to-day observations. If a woman wants to learn the method, in the evening she would chart her description of her most fertile sign of the day.

This is not to be confused with the Rhythm Method (which was the best they had 60 years ago), and that was based on a woman’s menstrual cycle or “red period.” The Billings Method is based on the “white period,” which is your cervical mucus. The cervix, which is the bottom part of your womb, produces mucus, and you’re going to feel it because it’s going to show up at your vulva. To further explain, there are certain things that need to take place for a woman to conceive, and one is cervical mucus. Without the mucus, you can’t get pregnant. So, basically, your most fertile sign would be the more slippery mucus.


In short, there are four phases of a woman’s cycle: It begins with your menstruation, the next is your basic unchanging pattern of dry or unchanging mucus, then the mucus begins changing and developing, ending in the “peak” (which is the fertile phase). Then it’s the luteal phase, and that’s when there’s no possibility of getting pregnant.

On average, is that fertile period about a week after your period ends?

The fertile period is when the cervical mucus is changing and developing into the slippery mucus. The last day of this slippery mucus is called the “peak.” The day after the peak is an abrupt change, either dry or sticky. Ovulation occurs 95 percent on the day of peak, 4 percent the day after, and 1-2 percent two days later. If pregnancy does not occur, menstruation occurs 11-16 days after the peak. Ovulation occurs only once per cycle.

So, for most women, how long are they fertile?

Ninety-six hours - that’s it. Most of the time you’re not fertile.

How effective is the method?

This method is 99 percent effective. They’ve done studies all over the world, but the biggest study was done in India. This (involved more than) 19,000 women, and it was basically 99.5 percent effective, if it was taught and used correctly. The Australian husband-and-wife doctor team, namely the Drs. Billings, developed this very scientific method over the last 50 years. Their book The Billings Method has sold more than 1 million copies in 22 languages. I also do personalized instruction for a very reasonable charge. Women/couples can contact me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Once you figure out your cycle, will it be the same from month to month?

No, every woman is unique and every cycle is different. Daily charting is essential, and this only takes a minute each evening. The woman puts a stamp on her chart, and writes one or two words below the stamp describing her sensation and description of the most fertile sign of the day. It helps to have personalized instruction, or simply read the book.

When would be the time that you would try to concentrate having intercourse if you’re trying to conceive?

Have relations during the fertile phase, when the mucus begins changing and developing, concentrating on the slippery mucus days.

How do you determine the mucus description?

You don’t touch anything. So it’s the sensation that you feel at your vulva and any mucus that you might observe, after being upright and walking around during the day. That’s why you chart in the evening after observing your body during the day.

Besides helping to avoid and achieve pregnancy, are there other benefits to this method?

It’s 100 percent natural, so there are no side-effects. It’s also low cost. It enhances marital harmony. People who practice natural family planning have a very low divorce rate because it opens up communications between the spouses. Instead of always being available, you need to talk about it. It’s even said that couples on this method actually have more sex than couples on the pill. I think it’s because the woman doesn’t feel used. And it’s easy to learn. Once you learn it, you have it for life; although during breast-feeding and pre-menopause you might need a little help from an instructor to help interpret the changes. And it’s as effective as birth control pills without the nasty side-effects. So why not use it?

Using this method, are you able to detect if a woman isn’t fertile?

Yes, if a woman has problems and something is abnormal, by doing daily checks she can detect that and then go see a doctor for further help. So it’s a very good way to detect if something is wrong because it’s your bodily awareness.

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