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Preconception

Using Fertility Awareness Methods to Focus Conceptive Efforts
by Eric Daiter, MD
As couples embark upon the second stage of family planning, conception, after many years of practicing contraception, they may soon find that becoming pregnant might just be more difficult than they had previous believed. Just think: all of the right conditions must be in place for sperm to live to reach an egg, for an egg to be fertilized, and for that egg to succeed within a woman's body. Many reproductively minded women find it helpful to become more aware of their bodies' cycles in order to both better know themselves and increase their chances of conceiving. There are three signs that women can monitor successfully and thus feel empowered that they are actively involved in their successful conception. Please note that "self tests" for determining when ovulation is occurring are not always accurate or reliable. If you seem to be having problems with these tests, you can consult with your physician about more reliable tests that are available.

The first step in using Fertility Awareness Methods (FAM) to promote pregnancy involves the female's Basal Body Temperature (BBT). A woman should take her body temperature in the same place (orally or vaginally) and at the same time each day, before daily activity begins, in order to be most accurate and most beneficial. Basal Body Temperature charts are readily available for free download on the Internet; each daily body temperature should be recorded on one of these charts with dots and connected with straight lines. When the full monthly cycle has been charted, the six temperatures occurring before the mid-cycle rise should be highlighted and the highest of these six duly noted. Another line, called the coverline will need be drawn above this highest temperature demarcating the time when ovulation most likely occurred. This charting should continue regularly in conjunction with the next two observations until conception is achieved successfully.

The next step a woman can take is making sure to observe the consistency of the cervical fluid. Beginning with the last day of bleeding from menstruation, it is helpful to check cervical fluid; always using clean hands, the vaginal lips should be separated and the fluid within swiped with fingers. It is helpful to check this at each restroom visit. Careful attention to the integrity and consistency of the fluid should be observed and charted. By putting finger and thumb together with fluid, pull fingers apart and check to see if it is sticky and tacky, or if it immediately pulls apart. Note when it is sticky and slippery, similar to egg white consistency -- this is indicative of fertile days. Pay special attention as well to any sensations felt vaginally and note them. The wettest and stickiest day of the fluid checks should be noted as the day of optimum fertility and indicative that ovulation has occurred.

Perhaps the most difficult observation is the last one, and it involves checking the position of the cervix. Best observed during the fertile (wet and sticky) time preceding ovulation, in the squatted position, a woman should use her middle finger and note the condition of her cervix. Is it especially wet, high, soft, or open? A dot can be used on the chart to denote a closed and firm cervix, a small circle to show a partially open cervix, and a larger circle to show a high and open, soft cervix. Any other symbols can be used as well, just keep straight what each one means. When the cervix is soft, open, and high, a woman is at her most fertile and receptive of the male's sperm. Take note of this, and compare with the results from the other two observations.

By combining and cross-referencing the data found with each observation method, a woman will successfully increase her chances of conceiving as well as becoming more aware of the changes within her body. Learning to listen to the body and being aware of each of its stages are ways to become actively involved in conception. Seeking advice from a doctor is always beneficial as well, so never hesitate in asking questions.

About the Author:
Eric Daiter is the medical director of The NJ Center for Fertility and Reproductive Medicine, LLC, a leading New Jersey Infertility Center that offers a complete range of Male Infertility and Female Infertility Treatment. For more information on The NJ Center for Fertility and Reproductive Medicine and Dr. Eric Daiter please visit www.drericdaitermd.com.

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