A Few Things I Know

When It comes to TTC, social media can be a tad bit overwhelming. There is a lot of information floating around. And while I don’t pretend to know even half of what I should know about TTC…over the past decade and a half of actively trying, I’ve learned a little. 

So, I thought I’d share a few things that I’ve learned, that I wish I had known from the beginning. 

  • The March of Dime recommends that you start taking a prenatal vitamin, containing folate or folic acid, at least 3 months prior to actively trying to conceive. Folate helps prevent neural tube defects.

I was also told by my doctor that a man can take a Folic Acid supplement to help prevent neural tube defects as well. Not to mention that it can help with sperm count for men with issues. 

  • ALWAYS TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE TAKING ANYTHING OVER THE COUNTER! 

Even vitamins and supplements should be discussed. Things like Vitex and Maca Root can be amazing! They can be extremely beneficial. BUT, only if you need them. Vitex, which I see recommended a lot, can cause more harm than good if you don’t truly need it. And just because something is natural doesn’t mean that your doctor would have the same treatment plan regardless of if you’re taking it or not. So please, especially when trying to conceive, discuss everything with your doctor!!! They can also make sure that everything you take is safe to take during pregnancy. My primary knows all about our TTC journey and knows that if it’s not a Class B prescription…I’m not taking it. So we always go for pregnancy safe medications. 

  • OPKs (ovulation predictor kits) alone can not tell you if you’re ovulating. Temping can not tell you when you’re about to ovulate, it only confirms ovulation. 

Your best bet is to use the two in connection with one another. It’s not uncommon to surge and not ovulate. You can build up for a LH (luteinizing hormone-the hormone that OPKs test for) surge and then back off. You can get a positive OPK, indicating a surge, and not ovulate. And you won’t always get the “pre-O temp dip” just prior to ovulation. So you can’t wait for that dip to BD (baby dance).

I have had my fair share of cycles where I’ve gotten positive OPKs…complete with EWCM…around the time I was expecting them, and didn’t ovulate with that surge. There was no temp shift to confirm ovulation. So, I’ve learned to test until I get my temp shift. Because some of those cycles, I surged again within 5 days and ovulated. Other cycles it was another month before I surged again and ovulated. So I totally classify myself as a *BIG* temp pusher. lol

Speaking of OPKs…

  • We always have some level of LH in our system throughout our cycle. So, for the most part there will always be a second line show up on your tests. That’s why a positive OPK is only positive when the test line is as dark or darker than the control line. 
  • It’s not uncommon to have a surge of LH (a positive OPK) prior to AF. 
  • A pregnancy test will be positive…no squinting needed…before a positive OPK is from hCG and not LH. 

LH and hCG (pregnancy hormone) are very similar in composition. Think of them like twins…and hCG wears a hat to stand out. A pregnancy test looks for the hat. It won’t give you a second line if it doesn’t detect the hat. Since the OPK isn’t looking for the hat, it’s looking for the basic compound, the OPK will pick up on hCG. 

And the reason I say that you won’t need to squint to see a line on your HPT, and the reason that I say an OPK will be positive, is because most pregnancy tests are 25mIU. Coincidentally, most OPKs are also 25mIU (at least, from everything I’ve been able to find out about the sensitivity levels of OPKs say most are). Which means that the line on your HPT will be there. Since hCG is stronger…because of the hat…and we always have some level of LH in our system, the OPK will pick up on both. It will be positive. 

But because it’s not uncommon to have a surge in LH prior to AF, you can not rely on a positive OPK as a sign of pregnancy. And keep in mind that not all HPTs are 25mIU. First Response Early Results, FRERs, are designed to detect any level of hCG over zero. The Clearblue Weeks Estimator can detect as low as 10mIU, even though it’s technically listed at 25mIU. So, if you’re getting a positive OPK and think it’s because you’re pregnant, any HPT should give you a line…but those two should definitely give you answers. 

  • It takes 70-90 days for a man to produce sperm. 

I didn’t know this until hubby had his first sperm analysis, SA, done. So that’s why SAs are typically done about 3 months apart. It’s also why it takes so long to see the benefits of changes in medications and supplements when it comes to count, motility, and morphology. Total side note…we also learned that something as simple as a low grade fever the day sperm production started can cause issues to show up on a SA. So try not to stress out too much if you get a wonky SA. Wait to worry until a follow up SA confirms there’s an issue. 

  • Pre-Seed has a pH level of 7.2-7.6. 

It’s designed to match our naturally elevated pH level during ovulation. The reason for this is because the normal pH level of sperm is 7.1-8. 

  • An evaporation line, evap, is a line that appears on a test after the time frame given in the instructions of the test. 

Some tests say to read the test before 10 minutes. Others say to read before 5 minutes. An evap occurs after the time frame as the test dries. It can be pink!!! Or blue, if you’re using a blue dye test. The point is, that it absolutely can have color. Evaps are not just grey. They can be thin lines or thick lines. If a test doesn’t have a line at the time limit, do not trust anything that shows up after the time frame. Even if it appears only a few minutes past the time limit. Test again in 24 hours. (I’m HORRIBLE about grabbing a test out of the trash even though I know I shouldn’t. So I totally get how hard this one is.) 

  • A good support system while TTC is a must!!! Your tribe will get you through!!!

Ok, I think I’ve droned on long enough. I’m sure there will be more posts sharing things I’ve learned. And if you’ve learned something you’d like to share, please leave a comment. And to close out, since it looks like today is going to be CD1 of an unmedicated cycle where I’ll actually be using OPKs again…I stock piled my test stash again. And of course, I had to share. I told y’all before I’m a tad nutzo. lol And the sad thing is, I had destashed like 150 tests during my Clomid rounds.  I’ll be ordering The Stork OTC tomorrow! And next cycle we’re probably on to IUI. 

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About Monique

Married to the love of my life for almost 15 years, mommy to angels waiting for us...I'm just a girl trying to navigate my way through life while fighting IIH & EDS and all the craziness that infertility has brought into our lives.

Posted on February 23, 2017, in Infertility, TTC and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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