What on earth is saliva ferning? It’s pretty simple, actually. It’s a way of monitoring how fertile you are by examining dried saliva samples through a microscope (don’t worry – sounds yucky, but it’s actually kind of pretty!)
How does it work? Well, shortly before you ovulate, there is an increase in the estrogen in your system, right around the time of the LH (luteinizing hormone) surge that ovulation predictors detect. As estrogen in your body increases, so does salinity. And when a salt solution dries, it forms crystals resembling ferns. Thus, the appearance of these “ferns” indicate an increase of estrogen in your body, which signals impending ovulation.
I’m new to saliva ovulation ferning and have found myself scouring the internet for other people’s experiences and pictures. The most helpful site I’ve found so far is from one of the saliva ovulatoin ferning microscope manufacturers, Ovatel. Although that’s not the one I’ve been using.it’s the same idea. What I particularly like about the site are the pictures of two complete cycles. Since every woman will have a unique pattern, this can only give you a sort of rough guideline. But it was really helpful to see the changes taking place around ovulation. So I thought, why not document my own?
My advice if you decide to try ferning as a method of tracking ovulation:
- Let the sample completely dry before you look at it. I can’t tell you how completely different things will look within 5 seconds of totally drying. On days where I had the fullest ferns, I thought at first that there weren’t any at all because I looked too soon. You won’t see the real patterns until it is completely dry.
- Find some way of comparing previous days. Obviously, I was able to take pictures and that has been really helpful. However you do it, I highly recommend finding a way to document at least a week’s worth. The individual days made almost no sense to me until I looked at them as a progression. I could not have remembered what one day’s looked like without being able to see it again. I would have thought that every day I had “ferned.”
- Back up with another method, at least until you have a really good sense of what your ferning cycle looks like and what the patterns mean for you. Again, because I thought I had ferns every day, I wouldn’t have had a good idea during this first month whether or not I was in a fertile stage. Using the ovulation predictor kits and tracking my basal body temperature together with the saliva ovulation ferning allowed me to interpret what I was seeing. Once I have a complete cycle under my belt and can see where the “transition phase” is really ending and the “full ferning phase” actually begins, I’ll be able to predict ovulation much better next time.
I hope you find this useful!
Please note: I do not have a photographic microscope. These pictures are achieved the old-fashioned way, by using the zoom on my little digital camera through the microscope lens! So the pictures are not of the highest quality and have some serious blur spots. I’m getting a little bit better, so hopefully the pictures are too. Bear with me!
The microscope arrived just after my period ended, so the pictures begin during the beginning of the second week of my cycle.
cycle day 7: There were several types of formations to be found on this day. There were many rocky areas full of “chards” along with some more clear crystalline branching structures, as well as some beautiful “ferns.” I’ll assume these ferns came from the estrogen still in my system from my period ending.
cycle day 8: Overall crystalline structures. Largely straight lines, no curvy ferns.
cycle day 9: forgot to take a picture, sorry.
cycle day 10: Branching structures, but no ferning.
cd 11: Evolving from yesterday’s. More branching and fewer individual chards. Still no real ferning.
cd 12: Starting to fern. Those straight lines from days 10 & 11 are starting to branch and become a little fuller. I marked this as the start of my transition period.
cd 13: Another triptych. Although there were several different areas on this slide again, most had some kind of ferning going on. Some areas looked like yesterday’s, and the first full ferns appeared. On this day I started noticing that even the areas without branching are starting to become denser, like the individual crystals are beginning to come together. No isolated chards – they’re all clumping together.
cycle day 14: Positive OPK and the first day of full ferning. Again, no isolated chards. All areas of the sample contained ferns like this.
cycle day 15 (ovulation later confirmed by bbt): Very full, dense ferning. Branching structures with full, curvy ferns.
cycle day 16 (1dpo): and as quickly as they came, they were gone… back to sparser branches – they look like aerial shots of tributaries to me!.
cycle day 17 (2dpo): no ferns of any kind.
cycle day 18 (3dpo): some branching, no ferns.
cycle day 19 (4dpo): heavy branching.
cycle day 20 (5dpo): more heavy branching, no ferns.
cycle day 21 (6dpo): An interesting pattern – possible ferning?
cycle day 22 (7dpo): mostly chards, some branching.
cycle day 23 (8dpo): fuller branching.
cycle day 24 (9dpo): lots of chards, some branching areas.
cycle day 25 (10dpo): full branching.
cycle day 26 (11dpo): two patterns of note here. a lot of branching, and then an interesting ferningish sort of area, too. My period should be starting in a couple of days, and many women apparently get some ferning toward the end of their cycle as progesterone decreases and estrogen increases again.
I’ll continue to update until the end of the cycle, so watch for developments!
Interested inÂ a saliva ferning microscope of your own? Try The Fertility Shop for their large selection!