Standardized protocols for characterizing women's fertility: a data-driven approach

Blake, Khandis R., Dixson, Barnaby J. W., O'Dean, Siobhan M. and Denson, Thomas F. (2016) Standardized protocols for characterizing women's fertility: a data-driven approach. Hormones and Behavior, 81 74-83. doi:10.1016/j.yhbeh.2016.03.004

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Author Blake, Khandis R.
Dixson, Barnaby J. W.
O'Dean, Siobhan M.
Denson, Thomas F.
Title Standardized protocols for characterizing women's fertility: a data-driven approach
Journal name Hormones and Behavior   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1095-6867
Publication date 2016-05-01
Year available 2016
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2016.03.004
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 81
Start page 74
End page 83
Total pages 10
Place of publication Maryland Heights, MO United States
Publisher Academic Press
Language eng
Subject 1310 Endocrinology
2807 Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
2802 Behavioral Neuroscience
Abstract Experts are divided on whether women's cognition and behavior differs between fertile and non-fertile phases of the menstrual cycle. One of the biggest criticisms of this literature concerns the use of indirect, imprecise, and flexible methodologies between studies to characterize women's fertility. To resolve this problem, we provide a data-driven method of best practices for characterizing women's fertile phase. We compared the accuracy of self-reported methods and counting procedures (i.e., the forward- and backward-counting methods) in estimating ovulation using data from 140 women whose fertility was verified with luteinizing hormone tests. Results revealed that no counting method was associated with ovulation with > 30% accuracy. A minimum of 39.5% of the days in the six-day fertile window predicted by the counting methods were non-fertile, and correlations between counting method conception probabilities and actual conception probability were weak to moderate, rs = 0.11–0.30. Poor results persisted when using a lenient window for predicting ovulation, across alternative estimators of the onset of the next cycle, and when removing outliers to increase the homogeneity of the sample. By contrast, combining counting methods with a relatively inexpensive test of luteinizing hormone predicted fertility with accuracy > 95%, but only when specific guidelines were followed. To this end, herein we provide a cost-effective, pragmatic, and standardized protocol that will allow researchers to test whether fertility effects exist or not.
Keyword Ovulation
Luteinizing hormone
Menstrual cycle
Ovulatory shift
Forward-counting method
Backward-counting method
Fertile window
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: HERDC Pre-Audit
School of Psychology Publications
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