Natural Family Planning got it’s start with paper charts and pens. You note your body's signs for fertility or infertility during the day, and then write down what you saw in the evening. Done!
But as technology progresses and modern women become more interested in natural methods, it is unsurprising that the family planning market start investing in monitors and tests that answers the “Am I fertile today?” question for you.
They can track ovulation hormones, the ferning of saliva, your temperature while you sleep: perhaps a mix of two or more. Even for those who are reliable charters, they may feel more secure either double checking with this new innovation, or replace it all together. (Hey, no shame in being lazy ;) ).
Personally, I find that learning natural family planning the old fashioned way is best: you learn to get comfortable with your body, and at the end of the day, you can always return to your own observations should technology fail. It sets the foundation needed to know whether or not you need a fertility monitor; and if you do, said foundation gives you an educated idea of what you should be looking for.
Still, for those who seek an alternative to traditional charting, or want something to back up what they see, I wanted to make a list of what was available. If you are going to choose this route, it helps to be educated on your choices!
Works by tracking the hormones that induce ovulation, or the ones after the fact, by testing your urine. They tell you objectively whether ovulation is coming up or if it has already passed. Although they are a guaranteed cost as you have to replenish your supply, they can be worth it for those who want to minimize interpretation errors as little as possible.
**There are different kinds of hormonal monitors on the market that track the hormones proceeding ovulation (especially LH); this is why I linked to the general website rather than list out the different options. The most accurate brand out there is Clear Blue Easy, but you can also find LH strips and other brands at your local drug store or super market. Amazon also has a lot to offer, and you can buy cheaper in bulk.**
- Progesterone blood draws
**This is something you will have to find a doctor/clinic to handle for you, rather than go out and buy. Aside from infertility treatments, this will become obsolete anyway once MFB Fertility’s test sticks become more mainstream. Still, it is an option and one I will list.**
Monitors that track basal body temperature (your body's temperature when at rest) often take your temperature for you as you sleep, some even telling you when a shift from low temps to high have occurred (indicating that ovulation has occurred). Some send the temperature directly to an app on your tablet or phone so that you do not have to note them down for yourself. Be sure to note the tech's features before buying to find a fit for your lifestyle.
This is less objective, and not a reliable fertile sign by itself. The theory is that your saliva gains fern-like patterns around ovulation, though this has not been consistent among all women. Still, if you show a clear pattern, it can be a useful tool to crosscheck your charting with. Ease of mind is the best state of mind!
The following monitors combine one or more fertile signs for tracking your cycle, and come with the use of apps for tablet/phones. This is more handy for those couples or women who want an "all-in-one" device for maximum coverage, so to speak.