The Billings Ovulation Method® is not just for women who are trying to conceive or for those who are wanting to avoid pregnancy. It is knowledge that every woman ought to have. Why? Because it can help you to safeguard your reproductive health.
Changes in your cervical mucus are an accurate reflection of what is going on with your reproductive hormones. The chart you keep will be an accurate record of these hormonal events. Over 50 years of research and hormonal assays confirm this.
You may be wondering which irregularities in your mucus pattern and your menstrual cycles should be considered abnormal. There are different kinds of ovarian activity that are completely normal responses to different times and events in your life. Your Billings Ovulation Method® chart will help you make the connection between what is going on with your mucus pattern and menstrual cycle and what is going on in your life and your body. So let's take a look at these normal "irregularities" before we look at what might be abnormal.
The lining of the uterus, called the endometrium, thickens during each menstrual cycle in response to the hormone oestrogen. Progesterone levels begin to rise around the time of ovulation, changing the endometrium to make it ready for the implantation of a fertilised egg. If conception doesn't take place, the levels of progesterone and oestrogen fall, causing the endometrial lining to be shed.
Ovulatory Dysfunction is the absence of ovulation or abnormal ovulation activity. This condition is a major cause of infertility. It is often associated with irregular menstrual cycles and is usually caused by hormonal disorders. Adrenal and ovarian hormone abnormalities are the most frequent cause of ovarian dysfunction, and the most common example of this is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). It is estimated that 5 to 10 per cent of Australian women have PCOS, but many don't know they have it.
Inflammatory processes of the reproductive system are the second most frequent cause of infertility. They are usually secondary to genital tract infections (often caused by STIs). If you have learned to chart your cervical mucus patterns you will quickly be able to recognise an abnormality and seek treatment promptly, which may prevent fertility disorders. For example, you may see a small amount of blood in your cervical mucus, or experience a continuous discharge alongside an ovulatory pattern of mucus.
A small amount of blood in your cervical mucus may be harmless, caused by hormone fluctuations, or even the implantation of an embryo if you have conceived. But sometimes it may indicate cervical or uterine polyps, or fibroids. There are also a number of cancers of the reproductive system that can affect your patterns of cervical mucus and menstrual cycle. It's important to discuss with your doctor any spotting or blood in the mucus that is a change from your usual pattern, or changes in your normal menstrual flow.
The Billings Ovulation Method® chart of a 28-year-old woman showed several months of abnormal cycles, with excessive thick and sticky mucus and no obvious changing pattern suggestive of ovulation. In one cycle, she experienced fertile symptoms followed immediately by bleeding, then fertile symptoms again. Her Billings Ovulation Method® tutor referred her to her GP for investigation.