Natural family planning - The symptothermal method

   Rules of the symptothermal method

   In order to use the symptothermal method, it is important to daily note down all examination data on the track sheet. Furthermore it is important to interpret them according to a set of rules that is going to be explained in the following paragraphs.

   Cervical mucus Evaluation

   The samples of cervical mucus should be taken from the entrance of the vagina, using a finger or toilet roll. Every day, the fertile qualities of the discharge are noted down on the track sheet (wetter feeling, 'stringier' and more elastic texture, more transparent). Every woman will discover the peak (day on which the mucus indicates highest fertility) of her menstrual cycle, this sample should be compared to the samples from the rest of the cycle.

   In order to properly assess the observations of the cervical mucus, it is important to understand, that the peak day of the mucus is the last day on which it displays fertile qualities, but this is different from woman to woman. Therefore it is necessary to wait 3 days in order to determine, whether that day was the peak day. 1st Execption: If in those three days, new mucus displaying very fertile qualities appears, you'll have to start all over again. 2nd Execption: If those three days pass and the temperature assessment has not been finished and more mucus of fertile quality is produced, you will have to do the cervical discharge examination again.

   Interpretation of the temperature

   Every morning, you will note down the temperature on the track sheet. It is preferable to use a EU certified digital thermometer, as mercury thermometers have been taking off the market in March 2009. The rounded off temperature should be noted down as follows: Between 0.03°C and 0.07°C (including both) we'll round up/down to 0.05°C; if not to the next lower/higher decimal. Examples: 36.22°C would become 36.20°C; 36.23°C would become 36.25°C; 36.27°C would become 36.25°C; 36.28°C would become 36.30°C.

   The temperature should be measured as follows:
- Temperature is rising if there are three consecutive temperatures that are all higher than the six previous ones.
- The third of these temperatures has to be two decimals higher than the highest value of the six previous ones.
- We'll draw a reference and separation line across the six highest temperatures previously reached.
1st Execption: If the third temperature is not two decimals higher, then you'll have to take a 4th temperature, which also has to be higher than the six previous ones (although not exactly y two decimals).
- 2nd Exception: Amongst, the three temperatures after, the rise in temperature, could be one temperature that comes in lower or higher than the reference line
- The two exceptions cannot be combined.

   There are various factors that can affect the temperature, and they vary from person to person and therefore should be assessed individually. Some reasons could be: Usage of different thermometers, taking the temperature incorrectly or differently, taking the temperature at odd times, change of environment (due to travelling, holidays or climate change), stress or excitement, alcohol consumption, illness, bad/short sleep, medication, total lack of sleep, etc. Temperatures taken under any of these factors are noted down in brackets and are not taken into account.

   Cervix examination

   The German symptothermal method, substitutes examination of cervical discharge with examination of the cervix. According to the WHO (World Health Organisation), the examination of the cervix is just as important as the examination of discharge as well as the temperature.

   The cervix is hard, is positioned low inside the vagina and closed during infertile days. During fertile days it is the opposite, soft, open and in a positioned high within the vagina.

   The assessment parameters are:
- If the cervix is very open, soft and is positioned high up in the vagina, it is the most fertile point of the cycle.
- The infertile period starts on the night of the third day the cervix has appeared closed and hard. Whenever the temperature doesn't indicate anything else.

   Interpretation of other symptoms

Sensitivity of the breast and ovarian pain are symptoms, we cannot rely on 100%, as they vary a lot from person to person in coming and intensity.
Although they are useful in order to back up other indicators such as temperature and discharge. Therefore we'll only write down these symptoms in abbreviated form.

   Determination of the infertile period after ovulation

The infertile period starts on the night of the third day after the mucus' quality has peaked, or on the night of the third day a rise in temperature has been noticed, depending on what happens first. The infertile period lasts until the period sets in.

   Determination of the infertile period at the beginning of the cycle

   Throughout the first cycle, using this method, it is advised to assume fertility, from the first day onwards, it is only advised to assume infertility once a rise in temperature has been noticed for at least three cosecutive days during the previous cycle (and a woman new to the method has not experienced this yet).

   Throughout the 11 first cycles, you can assume that the first 5 days of each are infertile (5-day rule), as long as they fulfill the following two conditions:
- During those 5 days no discharge should be experienced (nor should the cervix open up again, once it has closed up after menstruation)
- if the rise in temperature takes place before the 12th day, you'll have to take into account the minus-8 rule as well

   The minus-8 rule determines the earliest day, (of the assessed cycles) on which there has been a rise in temperature. From that day onward you will have 8 left.

   After having monitored 12 menstrual cycles, you will be able to solely rely on the minus-8 rule (in combination with cervix/ discharge examination). In order to achieve this, we will take away 8 days from the earliest date on which the temperature rose. We can assume that infertility will last until that day, unless there is discharge.

   And what now?

   Furthermore this web site should only be seen as an introduction to the symptothermal method and show how straightforward the rules are.

   Of course we cannot guarantee that it will work, and would hereby like to say that this description of the symptothermal method is not enough in order to ensure the smooth running of it.

If you are interested and would like to start using the method, we recommend you to turn to books or a professional that can personally introduce you and guide you through the process.