3. Learning and Using SymptoPro

What’s involved in learning SymptoPro?

Learning SymptoPro may be done in a class situation, one-to-one instruction, or through correspondence or online course. Whatever format is utilized, instruction may consist of a presentation, learning activities, and personalized follow-up with chart review. Simply reading a book, or even attending a class without personal attention, is not adequate.

Is it difficult to learn SymptoPro?

The observations themselves can be learned fairly quickly. In one World Health Organization (WHO) study, 97 percent of women were able to identify the cervical mucus changes in the first cycle. Most people are familiar with taking a temperature reading and find it takes just a little effort to establish a habit of taking it upon waking. However, each woman’s situation and cycling pattern is unique, so personal attention is a very important component of instruction. This instructor/client interaction may take place face-to-face, over the phone, or in written or email correspondence. It is critical for a couple to learn from a certified SymptoPro Instructor.

What observations does SymptoPro require?

SymptoPro is a Sympto-Thermal method, meaning that it combines the mucus pattern (the "sympto" part) and the temperature ("thermal") to crosscheck the changes in fertility for a very effective method.

There are two main ways to observe the mucus pattern:

By tissue: Before and after going to the restroom, a woman observes any mucus found on a tissue that is folded and wiped between the vaginal lips. She notes the qualities of the mucus. At the end of the day, she notes on her chart the most fertile qualities she observed that day.

By sensation: A woman is aware of her vaginal sensations throughout the day, as she goes about her normal activities. At the end of the day, she notes what her most fertile sensation was that day.

An optional sign is noticing the changes in the cervix itself once a day. We find that about 1/3 of women find this added sign helpful.


The temperature pattern is tracked by taking the woman's resting temperature. This is best done upon waking before getting out of bed. Read more about the ins and outs of taking your resting temperature here.

The total time it takes to observe the fertility signs is about 2-5 minutes per day. It is not difficult to find the time to observe these signs. The difficulty lies in incorporating new habits, which can be a struggle with anything new! Once diligence has been taken to form the new habits, many women find that it becomes as part of her routine as it is to brush her teeth.

What’s involved in follow-up?

In follow-up, the SymptoPro Instructor reviews the client’s chart for correct and consistent charting and interpretation. There is a dialogue about how the observations are being made and the correct understanding of definitions and rules are clarified. It is also an opportunity for the client to ask questions, receive information appropriate for the specific cycling pattern being experienced, and be encouraged and supported in the practice of charting their fertility. Follow up  takes place as a normal part of taking a SymptoPro course, but it also extends into the first 4-6 cycles of charting. From there, a client is welcome to contact their instructor or SymptoPro headquarters at any point when a question arises, most especially during important transitions like having a baby or approaching menopause.  

Is it difficult to use SymptoPro?

The basics aren’t hard. Most people master them fairly quickly and easily. Since most of the observations can be done during a woman’s daily person care, it takes very little time. The challenge in using fertility charting for family planning purposes, can be integrating the observations into the couple’s lifestyle and adjusting to the periodic abstinence required if avoiding pregnancy.

How much abstinence is involved?

Because each woman’s cycling pattern is just a little different, and each cycle is unique, there is no hard and fast rule about the amount of abstinence. For a woman who has typical cycling, the average number of days of fertility is about 9-12. It is important to keep in mind that studies have consistently shown that couples using a Fertility Awareness Based Method to plan their family have as many (or more!) acts of intercourse during a cycle as other couples, it is just distributed differently over the course of the cycle.

How does periodic abstinence affect the couple’s relationship?

There is often a concern that periodic abstinence will have a negative impact on the couple’s relationship. In fact, in a five country trial, the WHO found that “marital friction” as a result of periodic abstinence was uncommon in 80-99 percent of cycles according to both men and women. In this same study, over 95 percent of both men and women rated their satisfaction with their Fertiltiy Awareness Based Method (FABM) as good or excellent. Couples using a FABM, report increased and enhanced communication, increased self-esteem, and enhanced spirituality.

Does SymptoPro really work? How effective is it?

Modern Fertility Awareness Based Methods (FABMs) have been shown to be highly effective with method effectiveness figures ranging from 97-99.9 percent. Use effectiveness, reflecting the actual experience in day-to-day life, shows 90-99 percent effectiveness with the Sympto-Thermal Method. To achieve these effectiveness figures, it is important that couples participate in a structured learning program with individualized follow-up, that they chart consistently and correctly, and that they follow all rules, especially abstinence during the method-defined fertile time. 1

Register for our online course here or go here to find a local instructor in your area!

1. Human Reproduction Vol.22, No.5 pp. 1310–1319, 2007