The cervical mucus method, also called the ovulation method and the Billings ovulation method, is a type of natural family planning also known as fertility awareness-based methods.

The cervical mucus method is based on careful observation of mucus patterns during the course of your menstrual cycle. Before ovulation, cervical secretions change — creating an environment that helps sperm travel through the cervix, uterus and fallopian tubes to the egg. By recognizing the changing characteristics of your cervical mucus, you can predict when you'll ovulate. In turn, this may help you determine when you're most likely to conceive.

If you're hoping to get pregnant, you can use the cervical mucus method to determine the best days to have sex. Similarly, if you're hoping to avoid pregnancy, you can use the cervical mucus method to determine which days to avoid unprotected sex.

Using the cervical mucus method for birth control requires motivation and diligence. If you don't want to conceive, you and your partner must avoid having sex or use a barrier method of contraception during your fertile days each month.

Nov. 18, 2011