What is a fun, easy, inexpensive fertility monitor?  Judy wants to get pregnant, and is learning about her signs of ovulation.  A friend told her about using a ferning microscope, so she decided to try it.  It sounded kind of yucky at first, but it is really quite beautiful.  She had learned that her cervical mucus changes throughout her cycle, so it didn’t surprise her to know there are other changes that can be monitored. It is all an adventure, learning the subtle signs that she had previously ignored, and what they all mean.

How Do I Use Ferning as a Fertility Monitor?

What causes the ferning?

Around the time of ovulation estrogen levels rise.  When estrogen rises, there is an increased amount of electrolytes (salts) in the saliva and cervical mucus.  Ferning is the branching pattern that is seen when looking at a sample of dried saliva or cervical mucus under magnification.  Usually it is the saliva that is used for this.  The ferning is most prominent for 2 days before and 2 days after ovulation.

How Do I Use Ferning as a Fertility Monitor?

  • Get a ferning microscope
  • Follow these simple steps:
    • Do not eat, drink, or brush your teeth for two hours before testing. It is often easiest to test in the morning before eating or drinking anything.
    • Place a drop of saliva on the microscope and let it dry.  You do not want bubbles, and if it is too much it will take a long time to dry.  It must be dry for the ferning to form.
    • You can use an applicator to place the saliva on the glass or your clean, dry finger, or simply lick it.
    • Test every day for a month or two until you get used to seeing how it begins to form and becomes obvious around the time of ovulation.
    • Chart your results on your ovulation calendar (See the article “How Can an Ovulation Calendar Help?”)

    You may not see ferning every month.  Many women do not ovulate every month.  If you do not see it more than 3 months in a row, this may mean you have a hormone imbalance.  Use this information along with your other signs of ovulation (such as cervical mucus, changes in your cervix, and your basal body temperature).  It is part of the whole picture of your fertility and one more fun and useful piece to follow.

    After you get the hang of it, just test for the ferning when you start to notice fertile mucus.  Or you can use an ovulation calculator (See the article “What is an Ovulation Calculator?”) to estimate when you may ovulate and begin monitoring your saliva a few days before.

    And as always, remember to be nourishing yourself with vibrant nutrition.  This will support your fertility, make it easier to get pregnant and have an easier pregnancy, and have a happy, healthy baby.

    To Your Vibrant Health!

    Veronica Tilden, DO