History of Saliva Ferning
Researchers have been observing and studying the phenomenon of ferning in cervical fluid since 1945, when Papanicolau observed microscopic crystal formations in cervical fluid (cervical mucus). Subsequent researchers have studied the ferning of other body fluids, including saliva.
In 1969, Dr. Biel Cassals, a Spanish gynecologist, studied the crystallization of saliva. His presentation, to the Barcelona Medical Board was in regard to the relationship between hormonal changes during the female menstrual cycle and the crystallization of saliva, indicating that the ferning saliva is virtually identical in appearance to the arborization effect of cervical fluid. He put his findings into use in 1971 when he developed a microscope intended to test for ferning in saliva. His clinical experiments involved a number of physicians testing the apparatus for approximately 10 months on a group of 1,000 women. These women used the saliva test as a method to ascertain when they were fertile. According to Biel Cassals, this method’s success rate was around 96.2%.
A study conducted in 1991 (M. Guida) at the Institute of Gynecology and Obstetrics Clinic in Napoli, Italy, achieved a positive result in 92% of the cases studied, matching salivary ferning to the fertile pre-ovulatory and ovulatory period. Parameters recorded included basal temperature, subjective sensation of the mucus at the level of the vulva, characteristics of cervical fluid, abdominal and/or lumbar painfulness, and echographic proof of ovulation.
A further study conducted in 1992 in Milan, Italy (M. Barbato, A. Pandolfi) and Naples, Italy, (M. Guida) examined the use-effectiveness of salivary ferning as a diagnostic testing aid to natural family planning. This study used the PG/53 pocket microscope. They concluded that there is a direct correlation between salivary ferning and the fertile period. Their conclusion clearly stated that “Salivary Ferning” may be used as a new parameter to aid women to detect the fertile period in combination with other sympto-thermal methods of ovulation detection. The ferning event began on average about 7 days before the first day of basal body temperature rise. In general, salivary ferning was seen to begin 1 to 2 days before the onset of wet cervical fluid.
In 1992, a study involving 300 women from an IVF (in vitro fertilization) program was created at the 2nd Department of Gynaecology and Obstetrics in Brno, Czechoslovakia. Patients were instructed in the use of a hand held microscope to observe salivary ferning. In all of the patients, the cycle was stimulated by means of clomiphene citrate/CC/ Gravosan Spofa/and hMG/Pergonal Serono/. Follicular growth was monitored with a 7 MHz US vaginal sound/Kretz/. Serum 17 beta oestradiol and LH levels were evaluated daily by radio-immune methods. Basal temperature was also recorded daily. This study found a definite correlation between oestrogen activity and crystallization of saliva, between LH curve and crystallization of saliva and between follicular growth and crystallization of saliva. The study classified reliability as “very high level”, and claimed that combining the sympto-thermal method with the microscope method resulted in a 99% reliability rate.