Ovarian monitor for tracking a woman’s fertility cycle

Made in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, c 1990-1994.

‘Natural family planning’ (NFP) is a method of birth control based on a woman’s knowledge of the phases of her ovulation cycle, which recurs more or less monthly. During each cycle a woman goes through a ‘fertile period’ and an ‘infertile period’. As a means of contraception (or ‘pregnancy avoidance’) a couple will refrain from having sexual intercourse during the fertile period. Also known as ‘periodic abstinence’, natural family planning is a method chosen by many couples who do not wish to us...


Ovarian monitor, Ovulation Meter model OM5, for home use in natural family planning and assisted reproduction, plastic, developed by Professor James B Brown, made by St. Michael NFP Services Pty Ltd, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, c. 1990-1994

The Brown ovarian monitor (also called an Ovulation Meter) is an electrically powered device, intended to be used at home by a woman to assist in the charting of her ovarian cycle by analysing the hormones in her urine.

The meter itself is encased in a grey plastic box with a blue face. It has a slot with a hinged lid where a prepared assay tube of urine is inserted, on/off and 5 min/10 min toggle switches, and an LED read-out screen. It is accompanied by two small plastic assay tubes with lids, and a transformer that converts the 240V AC mains supply to 12V DC. The complete home kit would also include a urine-collecting jug, syringes for measuring water and urine, a test tube rack, and airtight storage tins, but these items did not accompany the donation.

The ovarian monitor identifies the beginning and end of the fertile phase of a woman's monthly ovarian cycle, by detecting the oestrogen rise that marks the beginning of fertility and the rise or progesterone at the end of fertility. To do this it utilizes a micrococcus enzyme immunoassay to measure the levels of oestradiol and progesterone metabolites in the urine.


72 mm
124 mm


An 'ovulation meter' for home use, based on a micrococcus enzyme immunoassay to measure the levels of oestradiol and progesterone metabolites in the urine, was devised by Professor James B. Brown at the Royal Women's Hospital in Melbourne, with prototypes first available to the public in 1986. According to Mr Kevin Smyth of St Michael NFP Services, the 'Ovulation Meter' in the Powerhouse collection is an example of model no. OM5. The model current in 2006 is the OM6.

The various models of the 'Brown Ovulation Meter', as it is sometimes referred to, have been made and distributed by St Michael NFP Services Pty Ltd. This is a small company of five people (in 2006) who work on a voluntary basis with Professor Brown as principal.

Wording inscribed on the face of the OM5 includes: 'Ovulation meter/ Made in Australia for/ St. Michael NFP/ SERVICES PTY. LTD./ Melbourne/ [etc.]'. On the transformer there is a black and gold manufacturer's label which reads: 'Arlec/ [etc.]'.
c 1990-1994


Gift of the Australian Council of Natural Family Planning, 2006
4 April, 2006

Cite this Object

Ovarian monitor for tracking a woman's fertility cycle 2016, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 17 November 2017, <https://ma.as/358428>
{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/358428 |title=Ovarian monitor for tracking a woman's fertility cycle |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=17 November 2017 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}
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