Timing of menstrual cycle boosts fertility rates

18 November 2019

Infertile women who correctly identified patterns in their menstrual cycles doubled their chances of falling pregnant.

The simple observation method, reported by doctors at The University of Queensland, guides women in observing changes in their vaginal mucus to maximise their chances of falling pregnant.

UQ Rural Clinical School lecturer Dr Joseph Turner said the findings could help the one in six couples affected by infertility.

“GPs can advise women on how to make their menstrual cycle work for them - this is basic women’s physiology,” Dr Turner said.

The study examined patient data from 17 clinics across Australia for women seeking to achieve pregnancy.

A total of 384 women were followed for up to two years after being instructed to monitor their cervical mucus and to time sexual intercourse according to the Billings Ovulation Method®.

“The majority of the cohort had been clinically infertile for over 12 months, with more than half of these achieving pregnancies, including 7 out of 20 women who were previously unsuccessful with ART/IVF,” he said.

“Over a quarter of the study group were over 35 years old and achieved a pregnancy rate of more than 50 per cent as well.

“Overall, 92 per cent of pregnancies were achieved within the first 12 months.”

Observing mucus changes during the fertile window allowed women to be classified into either high or low pregnancy potential groups.

A favourable mucus symptom corresponded to 76 per cent pregnancy rate, and an unfavourable mucus symptom corresponded to a 44 per cent pregnancy rate.

Dr Turner said this method provided a rapid, reliable and cost-effective approach to achieving pregnancy.

“Doctors can now classify fertility potential so that informed decisions about delaying or bringing forward fertility investigations and management can be made to help couples achieve pregnancy sooner.”

This research is published in Human Fertility (DOI: 10.1080/14647273.2019.1671613).

Media: Dr Joseph Turner, joseph.turner@uq.edu.au; Faculty of Medicine Communications, med.media@uq.edu.au, +61 7 3365 5118, +61 436 368 746