The beautiful branching structure of these crystal formations may remind you of minature ferns. If so, you aren’t alone – our image this week depicts of a phenomenon known as “ferning”! What you are looking at here is a microscope image of human saliva.
The ferning pattern of crystallization is used to identify when a woman is at their most fertile period in the menstrual cycle. The oestrogen spike during a woman’s most fertile period causes salt crystals to form in her saliva, creating this pattern when magnified.
Although studies suggest that the reliability of this as a measure of ovulation is relatively weak, research has begun to investigate specific substances found in saliva during ovulation, creating potential for a non-invasive diagnostic marker for ovulation. Knowing when ovulation occurs is important in IVF and other fertility treatments, but the best methods currently involve taking blood or ultrasounds.
Saliva ferning has also been investigated as…
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