FOLLOW US  Click to go to Facebook.  Click to go to Twitter.  Click to go to YouTube.   TEXT SIZE Click to make text small. Click for medium-sized text. Click to make text large.  

Sympto-Hormonal Method Defined


Sympto-Hormonal Methods (SHMs) teach married couples how to observe, chart, and interpret multiple signs of fertility. Central to SHMs is the fact that when fertile, a woman’s urinary metabolites carry trace elements of her reproductive hormones (estradiol and luteinizing hormone). SHMs make use of fertility devices to help married couples pinpoint the woman’s time of fertility. Depending upon the SHM, the device can be a fertility monitor or test strips.

SHMs also provide education about the presence of cervical mucus as a support to the hormonal readings. In some cases, the Basel Body Temperature may also be taught.

In the United States, researchers at the Institute for Natural Family Planning at Marquette University (Milwaukee, WI), were the first to develop a SHM. Called the “Marquette Method” (MM), this SHM makes use of an electronic hand-held hormonal fertility monitor and cervical mucus observation. The fertility monitor detects two reproductive hormones in the woman’s urine and provides information on three levels of fertility (i.e., low, high, and peak). The observation and charting of cervical mucus is used as a double check to the monitor’s readings.

  • When used correctly, the MM has an effectiveness rates of  98-99% for avoiding pregnancy.
  • When not used correctly, the method is 87-90% effective for avoiding pregnancy.
  • When married couples attempt conception following the guidelines of the MM, they will be twice as likely to achieve pregnancy than couples who do not use a fertility monitor (one study of the fertility monitor used in the MM, showed couples achieving pregnancy within two menstrual cycles; see Robinson, et al., "Increased pregnancy rate with use of the ClearBlue Easy Fertility Monitor,” Fertility and Sterility 87 (2005): 329–334).

Reading …

Thomas Bouchard, Richard Fehring, and Mary Schneider,  “Achieving Pregnancy Using Primary Care Interventions to Identify the Fertile Window,” Frontiers in Medicine, 4:250 (January 09, 2018).

Richard J. Fehring, Mary Schneider, Kathleen Raviele, and Mary Lee Barron, “Efficacy of cervical mucus observations plus electronic hormonal fertility monitoring as a method of natural family planning.”  Journal of Obstetric, Gynecological, and Neonatal Nursing 36 (2007): 152–160.

________ “Efficacy of the Marquette method of natural family planning,” MCN, American Journal of Maternal Child Nursing 33 (2008): 348–354.

Richard J. Fehring, Mary Schneider, Kathleen Raviele, and Dana Rodriguez, “Randomized Comparison of Two Internet-Supported Fertility Awareness Based Methods of Family Planning,” Contraception 88 (2013): 24–30.

To view further research, see the NFP Bibliography.  See also Institute for Natural Family Planning, Marquette University.



By accepting this message, you will be leaving the website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. This link is provided solely for the user's convenience. By providing this link, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops assumes no responsibility for, nor does it necessarily endorse, the website, its content, or sponsoring organizations.

cancel  continue