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Fertility software is any of a number of programs for home computers or handheld devices that help a woman to track her fertility as a natural family planning method. These software packages track calendar, symptothermal and cervical mucus methods of determining a woman's most and least fertile times of the month. The software requires the user to enter her observations, then uses the data to chart future fertility. These methods can be used to help facilitate conception, but the programs also can be used as contraceptive assistants for non-hormonal family planning. These methods primarily rely on finding patterns within a woman's fertility cycle using her history as a guide.
Ovulation occurs at the same point each month during a woman's menstrual cycle. Fertility software for facilitating the calendar method of tracking ovulation requires a woman to enter data about when her period begins and ends. From this information, the program can pinpoint the days when conception is most likely. It might take several months of observations for calendar method software to accurately predict ovulation. The calendar method works best in women who have regular menstrual cycles with little variation in length, and it is not recommended for women with unpredictable periods.
Symptothermal fertility software uses a more sophisticated method of tracking basal body temperature to determine when a woman might get pregnant. A woman using this software would enter her temperature first thing in the morning, usually using a special basal thermometer. Basal body temperature is usually warmer during ovulation, but factors such as interrupted sleep, illness and alcohol consumption can affect readings. Inaccurate data or external factors might confound the fertility software.
The cervical mucus method tracks the color, texture, and consistency of a woman's vaginal discharge to determine the chances of conception. Fertility software for this method tracks observations and indicates future dry days, which are least fertile, and slippery days, which are most fertile. This method is often combined in software packages with symptothermal observations for a more detailed fertility forecast.
Fertility software is often used by those who intend to get pregnant, but it also can provide information as a contraceptive method. The use of these programs to track fertility increases adherence to non-hormonal family planning. Rhythm methods are somewhat effective in avoiding pregnancy when used perfectly. The fertile days indicate that the woman should abstain from vaginal intercourse or select a barrier method of contraception. Fertility software adds rigor and predictability to a woman's observations, but it requires long periods of abstinence from unprotected sex, both during the initial observation and during the woman's fertile period.
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