Thinking before you speak when it comes to infertility

Unsolicited comments are a constant in today’s society, especially with the prominence of social media. Thus, during my time undergoing fertility treatments I experienced no shortage of, let’s call them “unfiltered” remarks. Similar to that of comments made to a pregnant woman (minus the lovely ones like “don’t you look beautiful” or, “congratulations”), comments made to those struggling with infertility should, for the most part, be kept to yourself. Actually, I might even go so far as to say any comments regarding a woman’s body, unless solicited, are better left unsaid! While these comments are often well-intended, they usually translate as hurtful and annoying.

The vast majority of infertile women and couples keep their diagnosis to themselves for this very reasons! Thus, you may not know that someone you are communicating with is suffering from this otherwise invisible disease. But, if you are one of those people that just can’t seem to keep their mouths shut, I have compiled a list of things to never say to a couple struggling to build a family, or any female of what you would classify as “prime child-birthing age” who has not yet conceived.

  1. Just relax!! Oh how I HATE this one. As someone who suffers from generalized anxiety disorder and OCD, relaxing is about the last thing I can ever do. And you telling me to relax just brings out more crazy. Studies show that everyday stress does not cause infertility. And honestly, most of us probably weren’t so stressed out until we realized we weren’t getting pregnant easily!
  2. Why don’t you just do IVF? IVF is often seen as ‘the end of the road” when it comes to fertility treatments. Most couples go through multiple tests, treatments, etc. before finally taking the IVF leap. And actually, many couples get to the IVF crossroads and do NOT take that leap. IVF is extremely expensive, approximately $12k per cycle in the USA – not including genetic testing! And a lot of times it takes more than one round. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t just have $30k lying around. We had to open a new credit card, save money, and look to family for assistance. Many people don’t have those options! And some need donor eggs, donor sperm, donor embryos or surrogates, which can increase one cycle by tens of thousands of dollars!

In addition to being expensive, IVF is emotionally and physically draining and it is not the ultimate solution in every case. Some couples go through multiple rounds without every carrying a pregnancy to term! Not to mention the rigorous injection schedule, numerous ultrasounds, body and health restrictions, mood swings, and more. So don’t just assume we can “do IVF”.

  1. You can always adopt! Adoption is an amazing option for some families. But it is not one that most people jump to. The adoption process takes a very long time, and again, it is not a guarantee. And it is extremely expensive. And it doesn’t erase the fact that it is not a biological child.
  2. You already have one. So what if I have one? Or two or three of four? It doesn’t make the fact that you are not conceiving any less hurtful! Secondary infertility is a real thing. It is still a dream dashed. I hope to live in a world where someday all families can be as big as they would like, and are capable of providing for. Some people have SO much love to give.
  3. Count your blessings that you don’t have a real illness. Fact check! Infertility is a disease recognized by the World Health Organization! Of course it is not on the same level as cancer, but it is still a disease that causes pain and requires intervention. Don’t be the judge of who deserves sympathy and prayers, and who does not.
  4. You’re still young, you have plenty of time! That is not always the case. While a woman’s ovarian reserve diminished as she ages, conditions like endometriosis, PCOS, premature ovarian syndrome can occur early in very young women. Some, like myself, have unexplained infertility.
  5. Stop trying and it will happen. Ah, yes. One of my favorites. How the heck are you supposed to get pregnant in the first place if you aren’t doing the baby dance? I mean, I know you don’t have to technically have sex to get pregnant via IVF, but at that point you are really trying. And for many couples tracking ovulation, fertile days, etc., are how they get pregnant. Sex is key to getting pregnant. Stopping surely won’t improve your chances.
  6. Who is the problem, him or her? REALLY?? Does it really matter which person is having the issues? Maybe it’s both. Maybe it’s neither (unexplained infertility), but we don’t need you poking and prodding into our personal lives. What matters is WE are struggling.
  7. Oh, look at that little bump, are you pregnant? NEVER ask a woman if she is pregnant if you aren’t 100% sure of the answer. Do you really need to know that badly? If so, ask someone else close to her if they know. If you don’t know anyone close to her, you probably don’t really need to know. Or you might get an answer you don’t expect. Like, maybe I’m just bloated from all the shots I’m giving myself in the stomach each day and I gained 5 pounds from my last unsuccessful round of IVF. Oh, and my ovaries feel like they are going to explode. And I have gas.

 

I know we are all curious about what is going on around us, but infertility is an invisible disease and you never know what feelings you might stir up by asking a simple, unsolicited question. Rather than asking these questions, start advocating for infertility treatment and coverage. Share your sympathy with a friend. Bake them cookies or send them a card. Let them know you care and that you are thinking about them.

Understand that they may not want to go out on Friday night because they are afraid that one glass of wine will ruin their chances. Recognize that they may not want to go to a baby shower because it will hurt too much. Let them know it is OK to be upset that your best friend is pregnant, after all, you’re happy for them but sad for yourself.

Offer to be there when they need you, but don’t push when they don’t want to talk about it. Try to talk about things other than your kids. Don’t let the conversation always revolve around pregnancy and babies. They will appreciate your effort and kindness more than you know.


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Road-Tripping with Toddlers

Well, we made it to Florida and back….barely. The drive there wasn’t too bad, besides the fact that it was pouring down rain for about 70 percent of the drive. The girls were pretty well-behaved, and we had the assistance of my parents. That, coupled with free move downloads from Netflix and the excitement of warm weather made the trip there manageable and rather un-eventful (besides a small puke incident from Rowe and a brief 25 minute bout of being “lost”, and my mother cutting open her head in the van).

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The drive home, on the other hand, was pretty much a nightmare. We left my grandparents’ house in in N. Ft. Myers at around 7:15am. It usually takes 5ish hours to get to Georgia. We had our luggage carrier strapped on (this carrier is about 20+ years old, by the way), the girls in their seats with their morning milk, and some tunes on the radio. Our goal was to stop for breakfast just north of Tampa, so around 9am-ish.

Well, about an hour or so into our drive we hit some traffic. Our GPS gave us an alternate root so we thought maybe we would take it. No sooner had we pulled of the highway that we realized that Rowe had puked on herself! We pulled over on the side of a road, cleaned her up, changed her close and Nick checked on the luggage carrier. It was getting loose! And the car was beginning to smell. Ugh.

Rather than risk getting lost off the route, we decided to hop back on the highway. 9:00 came and went and we STILL hadn’t made it to Tampa, thanks to traffic. We finally passed Tampa at around 10:00, pulled off to get gas and breakfast. While we were getting gas we realized Lennon had thrown up! I stripped her down and took her into the gas station to clean her up. The women’s restroom was “occupied”. I waited a bit but I had a practically naked toddler covered in puke so I just went for it and took her into the men’s. I cleaned her up in the nasty sink and changed her clothes. There goes another half hour.

We actually had a rather enjoyable breakfast at Cracker Barrel, and then decided to find somewhere to buy more ratchet straps for the luggage carrier because we were convinced it was going to fly off the top of the car and cause a major accident. Luckily there was an auto store nearby, and Nick was able to re-secure the carrier in about a half an hour. We were now 4 hours into our trip and only about 1.5 hours from where we started.

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I forgot to mention, we bought a tiny can of Lysol for $5.00 at the gas station and doused the car in it. Best $5.00 I ever spent.

Throughout the rest of Florida we hit traffic jam after traffic jam after traffic jam. I think we FINALLY made it to Georgia around 4:30/5:00pm. It took us twice as long as it should have to get through Florida. At around 6:15pm we stopped at a McDonald’s with a PlayPlace so that the girls could move around and release some energy. Well guess what…there was a bus load of kids inside and in line! We didn’t even get to place our order for about 20 minutes. While we were waiting for the crowd to thin, we changed the girls. But I had left their night diapers in the car. Nick ran out to get them and THE KEYS WERE LOCKED IN THE CAR. Our van, a Town & Country, isn’t supposed to even allow that to happen.

Thankfully I have AAA. We called, and were told someone should be there after 8:00pm. That’s 1.5 hours to spend at a McDonald’s with two tired, cranky toddlers. Oh boy. We even tried calling the local police station to see if they could help….no dice. After we ate Nick decided to go and check the car doors one more time. By some miracle, the passenger door opened and we were able to get the keys! Hallelujah. Back on the road around 7:15.

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The rest of the trip included cranky babies who we refused to give milk again in fear of another puking episode, rain storms, snow, and a very tired mom and dad. We finally made it home at 7:30am. Our 18 hour road trip took 24 hours. But hey, we survived!

Will we do it again? Maybe. Will we be prepared should there be a next time…you know it! Here are some of my recommendations before you venture out on your next toddler-accompanied road trip.

TODDLER ROADTRIP ESSENTIALS

  1. Multiple changes of clothes
  2. A bag with wipes, diapers, snacks, Tylenol, diaper cream, etc. that is easily accessible. I recommend overnight diapers or to size up for the drive. Less leaks!
  3. Multiple bottles/sippys so you don’t have to wash them all the time
  4. LYSOL and disinfectant wipes
  5. A tablet with movies and tv shows pre-downloaded (and a charger)
  6. Dress your kids in layers and bring blankets
  7. First Aid kit
  8. Extra bags for trash, puke clothes, dirty wipes, etc.
  9. Busy bags! Below is what we had in ours. Each of the girls has their own backpack, and the contents below were in each pack. Except for the LeapPad and the driving simulator toy – we only packed one of those.

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Items in each busy bag: Blocks, memory cards, books, silly frog, bunny clapper, lightup bunny wand, toy phone, toy remote, stickers, stuffed rabbit, finger puppet, books, new McDonald’s toys (I didn’t open these until we were on the trip so they were “new”), snacks. Not pictured: sippy cup, princess tambourine, blanket, wubbanub.

  1. We did not have these for this trip, but will be a necessity next trip…the girls love them!
  2. Kids songs radio station and/or playlist
  3. Calming bottles – I attempted to make one of these and failed. I think I messed up the glitter glue/water ratio. Then I never found the time to try it again!
  4. Grandma & grandpa – I highly suggest multiple adult travel companions if you have the space. My parents were unbelievably helpful on our drive down.

Good luck to you on your next road trip, may your adventure be smooth and uneventful!

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Real Talk: Pregnancy Nausea

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Let’s talk pregnancy nausea. I don’t mean “morning sickness”, or the occasional upset tummy or gagging. I mean full blown, all-day/all-night PREGNANCY NAUSEA. With puking.

When I was pregnant with the twins, I had the all-day queasies the entire first trimester, a bit early in the second, and here and there in the third. But I expected that. I was pregnant with twins, my HCG levels were high, as were all of my other hormones. I was prepared for “double symptoms”. And after months and months of fertility drugs, I handled those symptoms like a boss.

But this second time around seems so much worse. The nausea is more intense, my super pregnancy smell is more intense (I can’t even open the fridge without gagging), the food aversions are more intense, and the barfing is more intense. Since week six I have thrown up almost every single day, usually multiple times. To the ladies out there with HG – God bless you, I don’t know how you do it. Chasing two toddlers around also doesn’t help. Nor does changing their poopy diapers. The nausea is with me, ALWAYS.

Also, husbands don’t really get it. It seriously is debilitating!! I try to explain it to Nick like this: Imagine having a hangover that lasts for weeks, but not getting to enjoy the fun part that gives you the hangover. I think that resonates a bit more. Thankfully he has really stepped up and been taking on a lot of the tasks that I just can’t bring myself to do – like making the girls’ meals. Thanks for being a trooper, babe.

Now that you know how great I have felt the past 9 weeks, let’s talk about the lovely PLACES I have gotten sick. This is a running joke with other ladies on my mom boards – might as well make light of it all.

**Warning** TMI ALERT

Since the nausea is my bestie, and does not discriminate, I have had some not-so-pleasant encounters with it. Here are some of the fun places I’ve puked this pregnancy:

  • My driveway
  • My kitchen sink (multiple times)
  • IN MY CAR. It got on the windshield and steering wheel. I had to clean it up with YOGA PANTS. Which I then threw directly into the trash at work.
  • Speaking of work….in a trash can at work. In my office and in a hallway. I like to think the college kids thought I was hungover….
  • ON MY CAR. Rolled the window down and let it out. Then it froze to the side of my door. Lovely.
  • Target bathroom
  • Every bathroom in my house

Nothing is off limits. I just count my blessings that on most occasions, no one saw me.

So, now you are probably thinking to yourself, “girl, take some meds!” Trust me when I say, I have tried it all (if I haven’t please send recommendations. SOS.). While nothing seems to be helping me that much, the least I can do is share some of the remedies I have tried. Below are some of the pregnancy nausea tips and tricks that might just help YOU kick that nausea to the curb.

  1. Ginger – Ginger teach, ginger drops, ginger ale. Ginger root is well known for its anti-nausea properties.                                                                 IMG_3897
  2. Tea with honey/lemon
  3. Saltine crackers – If you eat these first thing in the morning, before you even sit up, it does tend to take the edge up. I just can never remember!
  4. Sea Bands – These helped me a bit during my first pregnancy. I borrowed from a friend. I never tried them this time around…perhaps that is where I am striking out?                                                                     seabands
  5. Mint
  6. Vitamin B6
  7. Tums
  8. Preggy Pops Drops – These were a lifesaver for a few weeks. Then I got sick of the taste.                                                            preggypops
  9. Carbs on carbs on carbs – seems to be the only thing I can keep down lately! French fries, mashed potatoes, waffles, pretzels. At least I’m eating…right? Also, check out this new study on carbs + healthy baby!
  10. Keep hydrated – Even though water tastes funky these days, I still try to get upwards of 90 oz a day.
  11. Snacking throughout the day – I will say, if I let baby get hungry, the nausea comes at me full force. So I try to have a small snack every couple of hours.
  12. Prescription medication – My OB prescribed me both Diclegis and Phenergan for my nausea this pregnancy. Both make me SUPER sleepy, but did help out for a couple weeks. So never hesitate to ask your doctor for some help, I know some women who swear by these meds!

 

I seek comfort in the fact that so many say “morning sickness means a healthy baby”. So I am definitely holding on to that, and trying to take it one day at a time. With the twins I felt better around 13-15 weeks. So I have high hopes for the second trimester! Until then……

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Tough Love

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#MOMGOALS series with guest blogger Ashley Jones

Often times people assume that since I have a smile on my face in pictures and that I workout everyday, that I love it. That I crap rainbows and sunshine and ride around on a unicorn all dang day 🤣

Well NEWSFLASH I don’t. I never have and I never will. My ugly is just as ugly as yours mmmmk?

So, why is it then that I can drag my self out of bed everyday and make time for feeding myself and my family well and workout? It’s called discipline.

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I am not the most motivated woman alive. I don’t have an unnatural superpower. I have just done the things that make me uncomfortable, daily. Over and over again so that they don’t suck as much and I know what I have to do to get them done.

I don’t look to anyone or expect anyone to be responsible for motivating me. That has to come from with in. Some one can cheer you on and encourage you, but at the end of the day, you have to become disciplined enough to make the tough, uncomfortable choice of eating baked sweet potatoes instead of French fries and spending 30 minutes sweating instead of sitting on the couch.

You are responsible for you.
You are in charge of your success.
You are in charge of you failure.
You. Alone.

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Now, I know I am serving up some tough love, but that’s what it takes. The sooner you realize that, the sooner you can get started on some serious work and make some amazing progress.

So no more excuses. Just action and sacrifice. You can do this, believe in yourself!


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Ashley Jones is a Wife, Mama, Physician Assistant, and Health & Lifestyle Coach. Follow her on Instagram & Facebook.Instagram: @the_good_doctors_wifeFacebook: Www.facebook.com/nursingtankfitness

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Baby Steps (pun intended)

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#MOMGOALS series with guest blogger Ashley Jones

Now, to the taking action part…

Getting healthy doesn’t have to be all or nothing, or a complete overhaul of your entire life at once. I often encourage my clients to take a “stepwise” approach, especially if they are just starting out on their journey.

Ways to take small steps that will get you big changes over time:

1. Eliminate one unhealthy meal/snack/beverage a day and replace it with something healthy. Do this for one week. Then in week 2, eliminate another unhealthy meal/snack/beverage etc. Continue doing this each week, until everything you are eating/drinking is healthy(ish).

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2. After you have built up some good healthy eating habits and are aware of how your body feels, start to move! If you are just starting out, you might want to chose 2 days to get 30 minutes of exercise in for the first week, then 3 days the next week and 4 days on week 3 and repeat until you are being active (sweating, can’t talk comfortably while exercising) for 30 minutes at least 5 days per week.

3. Now that you are eating healthy and being active, it’s time to step your game up. By now you have probably noticed some difference in how you feel and how your clothes fit you. Your friends and family might even be noticing a difference in how you look 😉 To make sure that you keep seeing change and getting healthier, you’ve got to push yourself. So up the weight you are lifting, push for an extra rep or improve your PR if you are a runner.

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4. Last, and most importantly DON’T stop!

Yes, it’s ok to rest and listen to your body, but don’t fall for your own old excuses anymore. You’ve come too far to back track.

Stay tuned for a little tough love next week 💜

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Ashley Jones is a Wife, Mama, Physician Assistant, and Health & Lifestyle Coach. Follow her on Instagram & Facebook.Instagram: @the_good_doctors_wifeFacebook: Www.facebook.com/nursingtankfitness

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#itsalifestylenotadiet

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#MOMGOALS series with guest blogger Ashley Jones

Want to know my secret…..

I don’t diet.

Now before you roll your eyes and curse me out 🤣 bare with me!

 

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See in the past whenever I wanted to lose weight, I would cut calories in an unhealthy way and I would exercise in an unhealthy way. By that I mean, I would literally eat scrambled egg whites, baked potatoes and broccoli in some way shape and form, for every meal. I would count every single calorie and then I would go to the gym and spend 2 hours burning everything off.

2 words: Not 👏Sustainable 👏

Then I would “yo-yo,” back up to the weight where I started or even a bit heavier because my body was starving.

It wasn’t until I had my little girl and wanted to shed the pregnancy weight that I learned how to do it the healthy way.

21 days of rewiring my brain. Learning what healthy portions from every food group looked like and how they made my body feel. Teaching my body that just 30-45 minutes of exercise could change the way I felt, the way I thought and the way I looked.

One thing that I want to be sure to focus on is that just because my program was 21 days doesn’t mean I stopped after one cycle. One of the issues I have with diets are that most of them have an end date. 3 day cleanse, 14 day detox etc. and that they make you cut out a food group to get results. This leads you to a false thinking of “Oh, I can just do this for X amount of days and be fit.” When in reality you are setting yourself up for failure. What I mean, more directly, is that if you want to be -HEALTHY- and lose weight you need to make a lifestyle change that is sustainable and you need to consistently and intentionally take action to reach your goals everyday.

Next week, we will talk about some baby steps we can make toward being healthy!

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Ashley Jones is a Wife, Mama, Physician Assistant, and Health & Lifestyle Coach. Follow her on Instagram & Facebook.Instagram: @the_good_doctors_wifeFacebook: Www.facebook.com/nursingtankfitness

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#momgoals – Guest blogger series w/Ashley Jones

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It’s early January and we are all running rampant on our 2018 New Year’s resolutions, am I right? Like clockwork, every January 1 I make a couple of personal goals for myself (most include losing weight, eating healthy, cutting back on the wine….) but by March 1, they are usually out the window. Even earlier now that I am a mom.

As moms, we are super busy, like ALL OF THE TIME. In my experience, my personal goals are usually what take the backburner. Well not this year! Like I already emphasized, 2018 is the year of ME, and I am going to find the time to focus on ME and MY goals.

That’s where my good friend Ashley Jones comes in. She has been by my side with advice, motivation, jokes and, now that she is a physician’s assistant, the answers to all of my health anxiety qualms (lucky her!). She is the sister I never had, and then some.

Ash has an 18-month-old daughter, works part-time at a Pittsburgh Urgent Care Center, is a health and lifestyle coach and still finds the time to work out, cook a fabulous meal and unwind with a glass of wine (or tea) at the end of a long day.

How does she do it?! I ask myself this on a daily basis! Fear not my friends; she is here to share some of her secrets and tips to reaching some of those goals you have set for yourself this year in a three-part series I have dubbed “#MOMGOALS”.

For the next three Thursdays, Ashley will be taking over my blog and covering topics like:

  • #itsalifestylenotadiet (why diets can suck)
  • Baby Steps (small changes that make a BIG difference)
  • Tough Love (motivation vs. discipline)

To make sure you don’t miss out on any of her great advice, follow my blog now! I can’t wait to see what she has in store for us!

Side note: In between these guest posts I plan to share with you some of the most important things I have learned while TTC.


Ashley_HeadshotAshley Jones is a Wife, Mama, Physician Assistant, and Health & Lifestyle Coach. Follow her on Instagram & Facebook.

Instagram: @the_good_doctors_wife

Facebook: Www.facebook.com/nursingtankfitness


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Ovulation: An EGGsact Science

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Pinpointing ovulation is one of the most difficult, but most important aspects of trying to conceive. Your entire cycle evolves around and is categorize based on the one day.

Your follicular phase is the days leading up to ovulation – but you won’t know how long it is until ovulation is confirmed! Your luteal phase it the time between ovulation and the first day of you period. Again, you need to know when you ovulated to calculate it.

In order to become pregnant, you must have sex (or insemination) on or around the day that you ovulated. This is your fertile window… ovulation day and the five days leading up to it. You might even be able to consider the day after ovulation a part of this window, because the egg has a lifespan of about 24 hours after being released in which it can be fertilized. If it is not, POOF!, egg disintegrates.

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The five days prior to ovulation are considered fertile days because it is possible, given the right conditions (fertile cervical fluid), for sperm to live inside the female body for up to five days. So sperm that entered the uterus/fallopian tubes on the first day of your fertile window might just still be hanging around on O day. But your best chances of fertilization are the day of and the day prior to ovulation.

So, now that you understand how important ovulation is, how the heck do you know when it happens! On average, based on a 28-day cycle, ovulation would occur on CD (cycle day) 14. However, a good chunk of those TTC don’t have a perfect 28-day cycle. Some of us have short, 24 day cycles, others have 30, 35, or 40 + days (I average between 35-40). It can be estimated that you ovulate approximately 14 days prior to your period, because the average luteal phase is about 14 days long. If you have a 25 day cycle, you likely ovulate right around day 11. If you have a 35 day cycle, O is probably on day 21.

But what good does that do us after the fact? Especially for those of us who have irregular, fluctuating cycles?? Not much that’s for sure. That is why there are a variety of different ways to estimate/pinpoint ovulation that all TTCers should be aware of.

Below are some of the most common methods. Some are pretty accurate, others are just estimates. My recommendation is a combination!

1. Basal Body Temperature (BBT)

Your Basal Body Temperature is your body’s temperature in a state of rest, and is your lowest temperature of the day. It is taken first thing in the morning, upon waking, before you even get out of bad, take a sip of water, or even utter a word. You will need to get a special thermometer for tracking your BBT, one that calculates to two decimal places, because changes in temperature can be that small.

To track your BBT I suggest using a fertility app like Fertility Friend or Glow. You can track by hand and print of charts from the internet, but I think it is way easier to enter the temps into the app. Tack your temperature every morning, at the same time (you can take it orally or vaginally or rectally, just be consistent…I prefer orally) and enter it into the app chart. At the beginning of your cycle, your temperatures are on the lower end, and at the end of your cycle they should be noticeably higher.

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Ovulation occurs when there is a noticeable shift of at least .4 degrees Farenheit after ovulation, which helps separate your chart into two phases – follicular (lower temps) and luteal (higher temps after ovulation). A lot of women have a temperature drop right before the increase on the day they ovulate. A couple days of higher temps will confirm ovulation, and most apps will generate what is called a “cover line”. Temperatures usually remain above the cover line during the luteal phase, and will drop back down when your period starts. Temps that stay above the cover line through a missed period are often promising. But it is not an exact science.

BBT charting is the best way to confirm ovulation, short of a vaginal ultrasound. Chart for several months and look for patterns.

The bad thing about BBT charting? It cannot PREDICT ovulation, only confirm it. So it is important to chart your BBT along with other ovulation prediction methods like ovulation tests, checking cervical mucous and position, etc.

2. Ovulation Predictor Kit (OPKs)

These are pee sticks that detect the luteinizing hormone (LH). They work similar to pregnancy tests in HOW you take them, but differ in how you read them. For OPKs with lines, the test line must be as dark OR darker than the control line in order to be positive. Many women have LH in their systems throughout their cycle and may always have a faint line show up on these tests. When you receive a positive test, you can be expected to ovulate within 24 hours.

There are also digital ovulation tests, like Clear Blue, that give you no-nonsence results like smiley-faces and shaking smileys that help you detect your two or four (depending on the product) most fertile days.

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Clear Blue Advanced Digital Ovulation Tests

Make sure to do the deed on the high fertility days, and then one day after.

I usually use the cheap test strips from Amazon because I like to take them every day and I am not a millionaire. Also, with the cheap sticks I like to tape them to a piece of notebook paper and include the date, time and CD (cycled day) they were taken so I can track progress and compare from month-to-month.

3. Cervical Mucous (CM)

Cervical Mucous (CM), AKA vaginal discharge (both are equally gross words to say aloud), is another way to predict ovulation. Your CM changes often throughout your cycle, and can help indicate when you are and are not fertile. When your cervical mucous resembles egg whites (EWCM!) you are most fertile, ovulation is impending and you should get down!

The best way to test your CM is around the same time each day with CLEAN fingers. Insert into  your V and then move the results around between your fingers. Yes, you will probably feel awkward at first, but eventually it will become habit. If you are like me you will check it every time you go to the bathroom.

The various types of CM (different sites/books will have slightly different names and descriptions) are:

Dry/nonexistent – this is infertile CM. Usually found right after your period. This is not a healthy environment for sperm

Sticky – After dry usually comes sticky. Again, this is infertile. It is almost like dry rubber cement! This is usually white in color.

Creamy – Similar to lotion in color and texture. This can be infertile or slightly fertile CM. This change is in response to the increasing estrogen levels in your body. It does not stretch or move much between your fingers.

Watery – Fertile CM!! Woohoo! This is likely to be clear or a little cloudy, and feel slippery between your period. This means ovulation is coming soon!

Eggwhite – The Holy Grail of CM! Eggwhite cervical mucous (aka EWCM) is the most fertile of all. It is clear and STRETCHY. When you pull your fingers apart it will likely stretch and inch or so. And it really looks like raw egg whites. This means ovulation is right around the corner, or occurring now. Some women never get EWCM but still ovulate. Which is why I will again emphasize that all of these methods should be used in tandem.

4. Cervical Position/Texture

The position of your cervix is another way to predict ovulation. Your cervix may be high, medium, or low. Become a cervical position expert and check it often so you know what is “normal” for you. Below are the stages of cervical position:

Low, hard, slightly open – during your period (infertile)

Low, hard, closed – directly after your period (infertile)

Medium, medium texture, slightly open (slightly fertile)

High (you should barely be able to find it!), soft and open (most fertile)

Medium, medium texture, closed – after ovulation (infertile)

High, soft, closed – this is what the cervix apparently feels like when you are pregnant, but everyone is different and I can’t even remember what mine felt like. And it could take a while to get to this position, even well after a positive test.

Hard texture can be compared to the tip of your nose, while soft texture can be compared to your lips (hopefully that helps). I am not very good at explaining the difference between open and closed.

5. Other symptoms

While there is no rhyme or reason to this method, many women experience that same symptoms aroundn ovulation from month-to-month. Some of those symptoms might be:

  • Cramping or twinges
  • Tender breasts
  • Increased sense of smell
  • Increased sex drive

Using all of these methods combined can help you to identify your fertile window and ovulation, which can greatly increase your chances of pregnancy. But even if you track everything, and time sex perfectly, there is still a big chance you won’t fall pregnant. SO MANY THINGS have to fall exactly into place at the right time in order for fertilization and pregnancy to occur.

I know trying for months and years can be discouraging. I have been there and I know how painful it is. So if you are under 35 and have been trying for a year, or are 35+ and have been trying for 6 months, it is recommended that you see your doctor (OB or fertility specialist). But that is no rule of thumb. You need to be your OWN advocate. If you think something is wrong, make an appointment. That is what I did after 7 months of perfectly timed intercourse. And I ended up needing two rounds of IVF! Don’t be ashamed, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Infertility affects roughly 1 in 8 couples, and is worth talking about.

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