Objectives: The objective of the present paper is to review the main results of recent European cycle databases on ovulation detection and determination of the fertile window performed by the women themselves.
Methods: The ongoing German Long-term Cycle Database currently comprises 32788 prospectively collected cycle charts of 1551 women, the I European Cycle Database (10 countries) 1328 women/19048 cycles, the II European Cycle Database (six countries) 782 women/6724 cycles, and the World Health Organization Database (one European country) 234 women/2808 cycles. The women record cycle parameters (cervical mucus changes, temperature rise, etc.), family planning intention and sexual behavior.
Results: With the symptothermal method of natural family planning it has become possible to determine the fertile window in order to avoid pregnancy with a method effectiveness of 0.3%. According to a small sub-study, the ovulation time observed by the women themselves correlates closely with ovulation detected by ultrasound and measurement of luteinizing hormone (correlation within 1 day in 89% of the 62 cycles). Fertility awareness methods can be integrated into the management of sub-fertility. They seem to shorten the time to pregnancy.
Conclusions: Self-observation of the fertile window puts women into a position to develop a high level of reproductive competence that could be used much more in different areas than is currently the case.