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While in her fertile years, a woman’s body provides several basic ways to identify the fertile and infertile times of her menstrual cycle. The rise and fall of reproductive hormones is responsible for these signs. Recognizing the pattern of those physical signs forms the basis for all methods of NFP.
Around the time of ovulation, a fluid or “mucus” is released from the woman’s cervix (the opening of the uterus). When cervical mucus is present, it has the ability to keep sperm alive in the woman’s body for several days.
Another sign of fertility that can be observed is a woman’s daily waking temperature or “basal body temperature” (BBT). The BBT is taken after several hours of uninterrupted sleep. A woman’s BBT is lower prior to ovulation and will rise .4 to .6 degrees Fahrenheit and stay elevated after ovulation. The higher elevated temperature signals the end of the fertile time.
An additional sign is a change in the shape or texture of the cervix itself. During the infertile time of the menstrual cycle, the cervix is low, closed and firm. Around the time of ovulation the cervix is high, open and soft.
With the development of ovulation prediction kits (or OPKs), the rise of certain reproductive hormones such as estrogen and luteinizing hormone (LH) can be observed. Finally, other optional signs, such as breast tenderness or minor abdominal pain at the time of ovulation, can also be observed by the woman.
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