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Salivary ferning as an alternative to sonographic follicle monitoring for determining ovulation: A comparative study

Belmar T. Magno, MD; Marlyn T. Dee, MD, FPOGS, FPSREI
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Santo Tomas Hospital

Objective: To determine if salivary ferning correlates significantly with sonographic indices in identifying the fertile period, and whether it may be used as a cheaper, and more convenient way to aid infertility patients in achieving pregnancy.

Population: Subjects who complain of difficulty achieving pregnancy and for whom follicle monitoring was indicated were recruited from the Outpatient Department in a tertiary hospital in Manila.

Methodology: Patients (n=40) with Primary or Secondary Infertility from April 2013 to August 2015 who require serial follicle monitoring as part of infertility work up were recruited in the study. For every follicle monitoring by ultrasound done by one sonologist, a salivary sample was obtained from the subject and the ferning pattern was determined and recorded by one pathologist blinded as to the day of the subject’s menstrual cycle.

Results: There was a total of 40 subjects who underwent 2 serial follicle monitoring during the study. The 1 st TVS (preovulatory) was done between Day 9 to 14 of the cycle with an average of Day 11. Correspondingly, salivary ferning done showed that there were 26 (65.0%) with Salivary Ferning 1 pattern and 14 (35.0%) with Salivary Ferning 2 pattern (p=0.35). This showed no significant difference between follicle monitoring and salivary ferning pattern and either may be used in identifying fertile period preovulatory. The 2nd TVS (postovulatory) was done between Day 12 to 21 with an average of Day 16. All the second ultrasound findings showed signs of ovulation. Correspondingly, there were 1 (2.0%) showed Salivary Ferning 1 pattern, 11 (27.5%) showed Salivary Ferning 2 Pattern and 28 (70.0%) showed Salivary Ferning 3 Pattern 9 (p=0.05). This showed no significant difference between follicle monitoring and salivary ferning pattern, hence, TVS follicle monitoring remains more reliable in identifying that ovulation has occurred.

Conclusion: Salivary ferning corresponded well with ultrasonographic findings during the preovulatory phase of the cycle, while no correlation was noted between the salivary ferning pattern and the postovulatory phase of the cycle. Hence, sonographic follicle monitoring remains a better predictor of ovulation, and more effective in identifying the fertile period.