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The Billings Ovulation Method

Cervical Mucus Changes and the Billings Ovulation Method

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Updated March 11, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Woman's panties at ankels in bathroom

With the Billings Method, you need to pay attention to discharge (or cervical mucus) found on your underwear.

Photo: B2MProductions / Photographer's Choice RF / Getty Images

The Billings Method, also known as the Billings Ovulation Method or the Ovulation Method, was developed by Dr. John and Evelyn Billings of Melbourne, Australia in the 1950s. It is a form of natural family planning, used by some couples to prevent pregnancy and by other couples to achieve pregnancy.

Whether or not the alone method can act as reliable birth control is very questionable.

For our purposes, we'll be focusing on using the method to achieve pregnancy.

How Does the Billings Ovulation Method Work?

The cervix produces cervical mucus throughout the menstrual cycle. The amount and consistency of this mucus changes throughout the month. Most of the time, it's rather dry and sticky.

As ovulation approaches, the cervix produces what's known as fertile cervical mucus. This cervical mucus is more abundant, slippery, and wet. While the mucus is formed by the cervix, it can usually be felt by vulva area as well.

The Billings Ovulation Method has women take notice of the dry or wet sensations of their vulva throughout the month, recording what they felt at the end of each day. They are also supposed to pay attention to any discharge on their underwear throughout their cycle.

When a woman feels an increase in the sensation of wetness, and notices more cervical mucus on her underwear, she is considered to be most fertile. This would be the best time to have sex to get pregnant.

Pros of Billings Method to Get Pregnant

The Billings Ovulation Method does not require you to take your temperature every morning, making it an easier method of ovulation tracking than body basal temperature charting.

It also does not ask you to check for cervical mucus internally or with your finger, but instead, to just be "more aware" of the dry and wetness sensations of your vulva.

It's an inexpensive method of detecting ovulation. While you can take a class where they will teach you in more detail how to use the method, you can also teach yourself through many books on the subject.

There are special charts and stamps you can buy, but there's no reason you can't track things on a regular calendar with your own symbols or notes.

Cons of Billings Method to Get Pregnant

On the other hand, not every woman will experience noticeable changes in vulva wetness as ovulation approaches.

This is especially true for women in their late 30s and 40s, who may have less quality fertile cervical mucus than women who are younger. For these women, it may be necessary to check internally for mucus changes.

Another disadvantage of this method is it cannot confirm whether or not ovulation is taking place. While an increase in cervical mucus can warn you that ovulation may be approaching, it cannot guarantee that ovulation will in fact happen.

With body basal temperature charting, a rise in temperature will let you know that ovulation has in fact taken place. For the added reassurance, some women will use both body basal temperature charting and cervical mucus charting together.

More on ovulation:

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Sources:

World Organisation of the Ovulation Method Billings. The Billings Ovulation Method. Accessed December 30, 2009. http://www.woomb.org/bom/rules/index.html

Billings Ovulation Method Association - USA. Accessed December 30, 2009. http://www.boma-usa.org/

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