Saliva Fertility Monitors

Women traditionally track their fertility on a calendar. Those experiencing difficulty conceiving have used other means, including urine-based ovulation monitoring strips – despite their messiness and cost, to improve their chances of conceiving. More information about these kits can be found on:

Less widely known, are saliva-based monitoring kits, which we report on here. Although such kits have been around many years, they have gained little market share despite their lower cost, reduced messiness and earlier notification of estrogen surge – correlating with ovulation. Utilization stands to increase due to recent European research findings reporting high efficacy and renewed marketing efforts by manufacturers.

Interestingly, both type tests rely on the same biology. As ovulation approaches, estrogen levels surge, leading to higher sodium levels in saliva and cervical fluids. Increased salinity leads to microscopic crystal formation in dry saliva — fern-like patterns (ferning) detected with a handheld microscope and a light. The units have a lipstick case design and testing takes about five minutes.

Currently two companies produce multiple-use, saliva-based kits; Hilin Life Products of Newark, N.J., and Fairhaven Health of Bellingham, Wash. It’s reported that German firm, Geratherm Medical AG, plans to enter the U.S. market with OvuControl. While the companies advocate the kits for conception purposes, they advise against their use for birth-control.

Hilin Life ProductsHilin Life ProductsKnoWhen60X$59.99
Fairhaven Healthwww.fertile-focus.comFertile-Focus55X$27.95
Geartherm Medical AGTBDOvuControl50XTBD

While the major benefits to these tests relate to convenience and cost, there are some reservations. They include research findings that fail to demonstrate any link between ferning and ovulation, variability in ferning timing which compromises its utility, and ferning is completely absent in some women. In addition, there is a learning curve in being able to recognize ferning. Apparently, women with difficulty conceiving should still rely on more than a single ovulation monitoring system in order to improve their chances.

Jacob Klausner

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