002 scienceoffertility

Application of the Billings Ovulation Method® to Avoid/Postpone Pregnancy

Written by Dra. Gemma Muñiz Nicolás, WOOMB Spain
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When I thought about preparing this talk, I asked myself the question: What can I tell you that you don´t already know? Most of us at this Conference know the Method and the technique, we have taught it and applied it, even lived it in our own lives. However, there are some among us, who are participating in this congress, who want to know more about the Billings Ovulation Method®, who have come here to learn. I don’t pretend to teach, but to summarize and review what it is and how it serves us to avoid pregnancy. Those of you who are experts in the Method will already know, but you will not mind listening again to this Method that we love.

We will review what it consists of and how it serves us to postpone or avoid pregnancy. We will also consider the effect of those fundamental and transcendent aspects of the Billings Ovulation Method® which influence the ultimate meaning of the application of a natural method.

Finally, I also want to share with you my personal experience.

The Billings Ovulation Method® is a method of fertility awareness, it is the woman, the couple, who decides when and how to apply the Method in their marriage. This is not a method of contraception. Three aspects are fundamental:

  • REMEMBER what moves us who teach this Method, what inspires us, what is our motivation?
  • HIGHLIGHT the intrinsic goodness of the Method, reflecting the goodness of marriage.
  • TEACH and interpret the indicators of fertility, which nature shows us in every menstrual cycle, and in the
    light of scientific knowledge.

Drs. Billings: “We aren’t inventors, it is God who made the Method, creating the woman in a way that also includes the Method.”

My experience
At first I was as a student-user, afterwards I liked it so much that I decided to train to be an instructor and to work to spread the method. For many years I have been actively involved in the Association of my country – WOOMB España.

The Billings Method and couple communication
Natural methods encourage communication, by requiring husband and wife to talk, to decide, to seek the best time for conception, according to their specific circumstances and in the light of the Spirit and according to responsible parenthood.

When a couple begins their life together, they must start to grow together as a couple. They will have their doubts and fears, some conditioned by circumstances:

  • Just married: there may be stress of financial or job insecurity, they may have to endure temporary separations for professional reasons.
  • Over the years they mature in love, their circumstances change, they have to cope with parenting, and perhaps caring for elderly parents.
  • Occasionally there are other conditions such as medical or economic or social situations, such as war.
  • Dealing with these situations, in the light of responsible parenthood, all couples at some time will have to embrace periodic continence without transgressing the natural rhythms.

The purpose of human sexuality
Human sexuality is a gift from God is which the unitive and procreative elements are inseparable.

Marriage is a donation of each to the other. This giving of the spouses, while respecting life and guarding the treasure of fertility placed in each is the truest sign of the sacrament.

John Paul II: ... when one speaks of “natural” regulation, respect for biological rhythm alone is not what is meant. In a much more complete way, it entails upholding the truth of the person’s profound unity of spirit, psyche and body, a unity that can never be reduced to a simple set of biological mechanisms.

It is only in the context of complete and limitless reciprocal love by the married couple that the act of procreation, on which the future of humanity itself depends, can be carried out in all of its dignity.
[Message of John Paul II on the occasion of the International Convention on “Natural Regulation of Fertility and Culture of Life” 28 January 2004]

The teaching of the Catholic Church gives us valuable documents in this matter, which it is helpful if we have read: Humanae Vitae, Donum Vitae, Familiaris Consortio.

These documents are interesting and educational and I try to remember them, in order to not forget the essentials of this important work that we do.

The history of human life
Each life begins in two cells that can generate life, the ovum and the sperm.

The activity of male genital and female genital tracts is regulated by the hormones and the central nervous system. The human species have combined fertility – that is, in order to generate life we need the male and the female.

Male fertility is determined by the life of the sperm.

Female fertility is determined by follicles, which produce the ova – woman’s fertility is finished with menopause.

The fertility of the couple involves the joining, at conception, of the sperm and the ovum.

The Billings Ovulation Method®
BASIC CONCEPT: Observing changes in sensation, produced by cervical mucus as it arrives at the vulva throughout the ovulatory cycle. It allows the woman to determine the infertile and potentially fertile periods.

SCIENTIFIC BASIS: Hormonal changes, throughout the cycle act at the level of the cervical cells, modifying the characteristics of the cervical mucus.

It is very important to distinguish the following:

- Basic infertile pattern.
- First point of change - Fertile phase.
- Peak symptom.
- Declining fertility during 3 days past Peak.
- The days of infertility following ovulation.
MENSTRUATION: Sensation / appearance of bleeding- red sticker or symbol (•).

BIP OF DRY: - green sticker or symbol (|).

BIP OF UNCHANGING PATTERN OF DISCHARGE: -Initially recorded with a white sticker with baby or with the symbol (O). After identifying the UNCHANGING nature of the pattern over 2 weeks or three cycles - registered with a yellow sticker or symbol (=)

START OF THE FERTILE PHASE: The mucus plug is removed from the neck of the uterus that is open to the passage of sperm.
Change in sensation at the vulva – the woman no longer feels dry. The potentially fertile phase has begun -recorded with a white sticker with baby or symbol (O).
If the woman has a BIP of unchanging discharge, the start of the fertile phase is determined by a change in sensation or appearance of the mucus.

CHANGING PATTERN: The ovaries are producing increasing amounts of oestrogen. The mucus gradually changes causing a feeling of slipperiness. The amount of mucus may diminish but the slippery sensation may continue for one or two days.

PEAK DAY: The last day of the slippery sensation. The most fertile day of the cycle. The vulva feels slippery, soft and swollen. The mucus plug starts to form.

DAYS 1, 2, 3 AFTER PEAK: during the three days after the Peak fertility is declining. These days are recorded with green or yellow stickers with baby and the numbers 1, 2, 3 or with symbols (|) or (=) and the numbers 1, 2, 3.

MENSTRUATION: occurs 11-16 days after Peak Day. The mucus plug is removed from the neck of the uterus to give way to the menstrual flow. The vulva feels wet and bleeding is observed. It is the start of a new cycle and is recorded on a new line of the woman’s chart.

The Rules of the Billings Ovulation Method® for the avoidance of pregnancy

Apply the Early Day Rules and the Peak Rule.

Early Day Rule 1: Avoid intercourse during heavy menstrual bleeding.

Reason: Ovulation can occur quite early in the cycle, and in that case the cycle will prove to be short. The mucus preceding ovulation would be likely to be concealed by the bleeding of menstruation making it difficult to detect the start of the fertile phase.

Early Day Rule 2: On days recognized as infertile - intercourse is available on alternate evenings during the Basic Infertile Pattern.

Reason 1: If the woman is lying down, fluid mucus leaving the cervix, at the beginning of the fertile phase, accumulates in the upper part of the vagina. The woman needs to be in a vertical position for a few hours to feel the presence of the cervical mucus at the vulva.

Reason 2: On the day after intercourse, the presence of seminal fluid can hide the beginning of the mucus. It is important to allow time for the seminal fluid to disappear and to confirm that BIP is still present, thus avoiding intercourse on consecutive evenings during the BIP.

Early Day Rule 2 applies whether the woman has a BIP of dryness or a BIP of unchanging discharge.

Early Day Rule 3: Avoid intercourse on any day of discharge or bleeding which interrupts the BIP.

Reason: Waiting allows the woman to recognize the Peak Day, in which case she will apply the Peak Rule or, if ovulation is not confirmed, allow 3 days of the return of the BIP before intercourse is resumed on alternate evenings.

Peak Rule: From the beginning 4th day past Peak until the end of the cycle, intercourse is available every day at any time.

Reason: Waiting for three days after the Peak allows time for ovulation to occur and for the life of the ovum. From the beginning of the fourth day after the Peak day, the woman is infertile.

My conclusions

  • If pregnancy isn´t desired rules must be known and correctly applied.
  • Properly informed women are perfectly capable of distinguishing when they are fertile and when not.
  • Using this method ensures that husband and wife are aware of their fertility.
  • Understanding their combined fertility enhances their respect for this wonderful gift.
  • The Billings Ovulation Method® involves both husband and wife in decision make thus improving
  • It also benefits their psychological relationship.

Most importantly: TEACH WITH LOVE.