Charting Fertility By Ovulation Microscope: Focusing on Fertility from a Doctor's Perspective
For the more than 10 million couples in America who are trying-to-conceive, accurately predicting ovulation - a woman’s most fertile time of the month – is one of the most important keys to successfully conceiving a baby.
A woman is fertile for only a handful of days during each menstrual cycle. And because her unfertilized egg has a short life-span of just one day, predicting ovulation and timing intercourse is central to conception. In working with my own patients, there are a number of different methods and practices I recommend, including maintaining a daily fertility chart.
Fertility charting allows a woman to monitor her own reproductive wellness, help her understand the nuances of her own menstrual cycle, and to correctly identify when she is most likely to conceive. Looking at several physiological variables, a woman can learn to identify the days when she will most likely ovulate - the best time to conceive a baby.
As a daily part of fertility charting, I have come to ask many of my patients to include the use an ovulation microscope - a touchstone in predicting a woman’s most fertile time.
What is an Ovulation Microscope?
An ovulation microscope monitors and predicts fertility by detecting hormone changes that occur prior to and during ovulation. When a woman approaches her date of ovulation, she experiences a gradual increase in the hormone estrogen. This “estrogen surge” facilitates an increase of salinity in her saliva, which in turn produces qualitative changes in the structure of her saliva – the formation of distinct crystalline patterns often referred to as “ferns” or “ferning” – that can be viewed through an ovulation microscope.
These crystal patterns, which in appearance emulate "frost on a windowpane" or the delicate fronds of a fern, indicate that an estrogen increase has occurred - a precursor to ovulation. With a positive result (or ferning pattern) ovulation is most likely to occur within 24 to 72 hours.
Using an ovulation microscope is relatively simple, and my patients adore the convenience and ease-of-use of this handy diagnostic device. In using the microscope, I ask my patients to test in the morning, before eating or brushing teeth or even drinking water. They simply collect a saliva sample (just a dab from below the tongue) and place it on the lens of the microscope. After a five minute “drying period”, they view the sample through the microscope and record the result on their fertility chart.
During the "transitional phase" (at the onset of the estrogen surge), my patients will see a mild or disconnected crystal-ferning pattern. This transitional phase can typically last a few days. Then, during a woman’s most fertile time of the month, a denser, intricate ferning pattern can be observed. With a positive result, ovulation will most likely take place within 72 hours.
What is most instructive - and fun - in using an ovulation microscope is the ability to monitor results over a patient’s entire menstrual cycle, observing the gradual changes in the structure of her saliva as she approaches ovulation. In fact, using an ovulation microscope is wonderful because it is precisely this gradual transformation in saliva patterns that provide an early alert to impending ovulation and fertility (something that urine-based LH tests do not provide). This early-alert feature of ovulation microscopy makes the microscope an especially invaluable tool for women with irregular cycles.
Even more important is the educational function of the ovulation microscope. Where an LH test functions like a luances and details of cycle changes. There is a dynamic quality to ovulation microscopy allows her to feel the rhythm of her cycle and better connect with her overall reproductive health and wellness.
While the ovulation microscope is not a new innovation, the popularity of this method of ovulation prediction has increased in the United States over the past several years. The research and clinical data behind ovulation microscopy has been around for a long time. In fact, clinical studies indicate that saliva ovulation predictors are a very accurate way to predict a woman’s most fertile time of the month.
Many of my patients have found these easy-to-use, handheld microscopes to be wonderful addition to their daily charting routine. And more than one patient has attributed a successful pregnancy to this diagnostic device.
Article by fertility expert Amos Grunebaum, MD/Ob/Gyn. Dr. Grunebaum endorses the Fertile Focus Saliva Ovulation Microscope.