Symptothermia or symptothermal method is a method that allows you to better understand your menstrual cycle. It is a natural way to spot your most fertile period of the month, but also a method of contraception. Explanations.
The word symptothermia is divided into two: sympto refers to physical symptoms and thermia to body temperature. The symptothermal method is based on the cross observation of the texture of the cervical mucus and the evolution of body temperature to identify the most fertile days. It can be used as a natural birth control method or as a way to optimize your chances of conceiving.
What is cervical mucus?
Before explaining how symptothermia works, it is important to remember what cervical mucus is and what its role in conception. Cervical mucus is a viscous substance produced by the endometrial glands of the cervix. It flows naturally into the vagina, which is more commonly known as vaginal discharge. Its volume and texture vary throughout the cycle. It facilitates the passage of sperm to the cervix and protects them against the acidity of the vagina during fertile days. Outside of fertile days, this substance clogs the cervix forming a dam against sperm. Abundant cervical mucus that resembles egg white in texture (transparent, fluid, elastic and stringy) is a sign of ovulation. With unprotected sex, sperm are more likely to reach the cervix, helped by cervical mucus. So now is the right time to conceive for those who want to get pregnant and the time to abstain or put on a condom for those who do not want to get pregnant.
Body temperature and conception: what links?
Symptothermia also involves body temperature. This, like cervical mucus, changes over the course of the cycle. Just before ovulation, body temperature drops slightly, by a few tenths of a degree. After ovulation, it increases by several tenths of a degree and goes above 37 ° C. If you notice a rise in your temperature in the middle of your cycle, ovulation has occurred.
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How to practice symptothermy?
Symptothermy consists of noting in writing the evolution of body temperature and cervical mucus throughout the cycle. Concretely, it is a question of noting each day of the cycle (the first day of the cycle is the first day of the rules and the last is the day before the first day of the following rules) its temperature (to the nearest tenth) and the aspect of its cervical mucus in a table, called a cyclogram. There are blank cyclograms on the Internet to print if you wish to practice symptothermy manually.
Mobile applications also offer cycle monitoring (Moonly, Kindara, Femm, Clue).
The combination of these two observations (temperature and cervical mucus) makes it possible to identify the phases of the cycle during which the woman is infertile and the phase during which she is fertile. The fertility window lasts for several days. It takes into account the lifespan of the sperm in the cervical mucus (approximately 5 days) and the lifespan of the egg once released by the ovary into the fallopian tube (12 to 24 hours). Ovulation takes place the day before the increase in body temperature, more precisely the day when the temperature drops slightly and then rises again. The interpretation of the temperature curve therefore gives an indication of the presumed ovulation period for the next cycle, that is to say the number of days elapsed between the first day of menstruation and ovulation. Cervical mucus provides an indication of fertility at time T.
A method that requires a lot of rigor!
Be careful, the symptothermal method requires a lot of rigor and a good understanding of the physiological changes that occur during the cycle. In symptothermia, it is the interpretation of the course of the changes that matters. It is therefore important to be well informed in advance about the physical signs that occur during infertile days and those that occur during fertile days.
The temperature must be taken every morning before getting up, from the first day of the cycle to the first day of the following cycle. Ideally, this temperature reading is always done under the same conditions, namely always the same method (oral, rectal, frontal or under the armpit) and always at the same time and with the same thermometer. Each temperature is written on a sheet of graph paper. The points corresponding to each temperature reading are to be linked together to obtain a curve.
The observation of cervical mucus should also be rigorous. It is done by sight and touch. To accurately determine its fertile phase, it is recommended to practice symptothermia for three to six cycles.
There are training courses to learn symptothermy. The site sympto.org offers videos to understand the principles of this method and makes counselors available to users. The physiotherapist Mélissa Carlier, founder of the site Cyclo Intima, also forms symptothermia.
Is symptothermia effective as a method of contraception?
The effectiveness of a contraceptive method is measured by the number of pregnancies per 100 women using the method each year. For symptothermia, it is to abstain from unprotected vaginal sex during the most fertile days identified thanks to the temperature curve and the appearance of the cervical mucus. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), this method is 98% reliable (2 unwanted pregnancies per 100 women). For comparison, the pill is over 99% effective when taken correctly.
Advantages and disadvantages
The main advantages of symptothermy are its ecological and economic aspects. It also allows you to better understand your cycle by anticipating ovulation and the arrival of periods. It is also a way to detect an absence of ovulation, irregularities in the cycle or the first signs of premenopause.
Its main drawback is learning. Symptothermia, to be effective, requires training and rigor. As a means of contraception, it is less effective than the contraceptive pill, the IUD or the implant.
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