Once upon a time ferning was the preferred method for determining ovulation. Hospitals took a sample of cervical mucus, placed it on a microscope slide, and allowed it to dry. If the woman was in her most fertile period, that is, if she was near ovulation, ferning was easy to see under the microscope.
Estrogen levels increase just prior to ovulation. The increased levels of estrogen are associated with an increased level of electrolytes (salts) in the saliva. When dried, the electrolytes form the classic ferning pattern. The photo at the right shows ferning through a microscope at 100 power.
Ferning, observed in saliva, is an easy way to predict ovulation. Ferning is generally seen for the period two days before to two days after ovulation.
Do not eat, drink, or brush your teeth for two or three hours before testing. It is often easiest to test in the morning before eating or drinking anything.
To test for ferning, place a drop of saliva on a clean microscope slide and allow the sample to dry. If you do not own a microscope you might consider an ovulation microscope. Try to collect fresh saliva from the saliva glands under your tongue. After the sample is dry, about five minutes, look at the sample through the microscope. If you are ovulating, or are soon to ovulate, ferning will be easy to see. It is a good idea to test for ferning every day for a month or two until you learn how your cycle works. You should be able to see increased ferning as your estrogen levels increase day by day.
There are many other types of fertiliy monitors. Click here for more info.