Word of the Weekend, and My New BFF

In case you missed it: we are just a couple months from “TTC” and that means that it’s time to get serious about understanding what the heck that means. The obvious is, of course, that it means “trying to conceive” and it may seem obvious as to what we need to do. But here’s the thing: most women are really, sadly, out of touch with their bodies. Do you know when you ovulate? If you answered “half-way” or “day fourteen” then you proved my point.

The whole process of releasing an egg, getting that egg fertilized and getting the fertilized egg to follow through on becoming a baby is a complicated and involved one, despite what we were told in our “You’re Becoming a Woman” talk in the fifth grade. As it turns out, counting to 28 after your period starts to mark a calendar with “Warning! You may need a ‘feminine product’ today!” is important to your wardrobe, but, well, it’s not the whole story. For starters, 28 days? It’s an average. You know what is not helpful at all to a woman trying to figure out how to, how not to or if she is pregnant? Average. “On average, a woman ovulates on Day 14 on her cycle.” That sentence has convinced many, many women that they are infertile. Which brings me to my new BFF for TTC, Fertility Friend, and it’s combo of detailed info about topics like why ovulation is harder to predict than we were taught and high-tech analysis of my personal data, in the form of The Chart.

So far, I’ve been really, well, general, about fertility. Family members, right about now is when you want to stop reading if you’re squeamish. We’re just talking basic biology and just about “fertility signs” but I thought I’d give proper warning.

Still here? It’s really simple when you break it down. Keep in mind that this is my take on it. (Not a doctor.)

  1. Cervical fluid aka cervical mucus: what your body makes to help sperm travel through the vaginal opening, into the cervix and to that egg that’s waiting. If it’s not there, you’re not fertile. If it looks and feels like raw egg whites and is “stretchy” – there’s probably an egg waiting to meet some sperm. I find this part really amazing, actually. There are, depending on who you ask, at least four stages of “fluid” to check and record.
  2. Basal body temperature. I take my temperature every day. With a regular thermometer. Under my tongue. The reason for this is that a woman’s body temperature at rest (right when you wake up, before moving) stays pretty constant and then spikes *after* you ovulate. If you are pregnant, it stays higher. If you are not, or if you miscarry, the temperature goes back down.
So, every day, I check at least these two things, put them in my iPhone, which syncs with the website (www.fertilityfriend.com), which adds the data to this month’s chart. Every chart begins on “Cycle Day 1” – the first day of my monthly period. The analysis involves graphing the temperature, trying to spot the day I ovulated, the phase afterwards (luteal phase). It spots anything that’s outside the parameters of “normal” and tells you if that’s probably due to human error or something you should ask your doctor about.
This is a chart from after I stopped using hormonal birth control (the evil, migraine-inducing Nuva Ring) but before I started ovulating. It's normal for things to take awhile to get back to normal--at least three months. I've been bad about taking my temp every day recently.

Oh, and the word of the weekend? “Mittelschmertz.” Real word! Directly translates as “middle pain” and “refers to a slight pain that you may feel near your abdomen or ovary at the time of ovulation. It does not necessarily occur at the exact time of ovulation and not everyone feels it. As such, ovulation pain is useful to cross check other signs, but cannot be used to definitively confirm or pinpoint ovulation” (Fertility Friend). Yep, that’s right, sometimes you can feel it when an egg gets released. AMAZING! And, thanks, German. Awesome word.

3 Comments

  1. Calley said:

    Did you know that sperm will stay alive in your body for up 7 days waiting on ovulation? So just because you are not ovulating at the time of sex does not mean will not still become pregnant. Also that the egg remains there for 3 days. Another thing a little off however that sperm with X chromosome (Boys) are slower swimmers but stronger. XX Chromome (Girls) are faster but weaker.
    Just some advise I know how impatient you are for this. I also understand you are very excited about a baby. Just when the time comes do not overtry. You may pshyc yourself out and it wont happen. I have seen it with other women who are trying many times they are so stressed out over making the baby they do not make one. Just let it happen as naturally as you can.

    December 11, 2011
    Reply
    • Anne-Marie said:

      Oh, I know! If I put the entire “Fertility Awareness Method” stuff in one post, it would have been way too long! The egg only lives for 48 hours, actually. And the length of time sperm can stay alive varies depending on your cervical fluid. Which I just find SO COOL. In the book I read on it, the “FAM” bible Taking Charge of Your Fertility, she says that it might not be romantic, but it’s possible that fertilization could occur while you’re jogging and he’s on a plane for a business trip. Shockingly, it’s not actually the same as Look Who’s Talking depicted…

      December 11, 2011
      Reply
    • Anne-Marie said:

      Also, I’d just like to say that my goal is to be aware of what’s going on, not to control it. I don’t think there is anything more natural than understanding what my body is doing, when. If it stressed me out, I’d stop doing it. But so far, it’s totally fascinating.

      December 11, 2011
      Reply

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