…and talk openly about our fertility (or, wait, is that just me?), there are a couple more things I want to mention.
1) Saliva ferning microscopes.
As you approach ovulation, saliva and cervical fluid take on a characteristic “ferning” pattern when dried and looked at under a microscope. The stages look like this:
Because of this distinct change, it’s possible to predict when ovulation is about to happen. When you see the transitional phase, you’re likely to ovulate in 3-4 days. Since this is shorter than the 5-day window of how long sperm can live, a saliva ferning microscope on its own isn’t a good contraceptive device. However, when used in combination with FAM it can be another reliable indicator of when you are about to ovulate.
I bought a Fertile Focus microscope recently and have been using it for a few days. It’s pretty darn cool. I’m sure there are several brands of scopes out there, but Fertile Focus was the first one I came across and was recommended by a FAM friend. “Microscope” is kind of an overstatement for this little fertility toy. The whole thing is composed of a tiny piece of concave glass, a single green LED and a lipstick tube. Voila.
It is very easy to use, though, and the change from one stage to another is very, very obvious. The fertility software I use (Ovusoft) allows you to track saliva ferning directly in the software and takes it into consideration when determining your fertile phase. For women who are concerned about the “ick factor” of some of the other biological signs of FAM (which, admittedly, I was initially as well), saliva ferning can be a useful and ick-less sign to track.
2) Menstrual cups.
Through my involvement in the FAM community I’ve come across the much-unknown but much-touted-once-known menstrual cups.
A menstrual cup is…well, a cup that you use for menstruation. Basically, it’s a flexible cup (usually made of silicone) that you insert during your period that collects the flow. You can empty it out into the toilet, then wipe or rinse off and reinsert. You clean it more thoroughly between cycles (boiling, soaking, etc.)
- Eco-friendly because they’re reusable (think of all the pads, tampons and liners you’ve thrown out over the years!)
- Cheaper in the long run
- Most women find them very comfortable
- No problems with fiber deposition into the wall like with tampons
- Don’t absorb vaginal secretions / mess up the normal functions of the tissue
- Not associated with toxic shock
- Can be worn for up to 12 hours (depending on your flow) so that ideally you only have to take it out twice a day! (How awesome is THAT!)
- Higher initial cost (the one I bought was ~$40, but was also shipped from the UK)
- Learning curve of how to put it in and take it out
- Some women likely find them gross or weird
There are many different brands which all basically do the same thing but have slight differences. When I was trying to decide which brand to buy, this post was really helpful to me. (The whole LiveJournal group is really helpful.) I did end up buying the Mooncup UK (not to be confused with the Moon Cup by Keeper, who decided to steal the name) as she suggested, and would highly recommend it.
That’s my fertility talk for today, boys and girls. As always, comments and questions are welcome.