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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. 

5 Things All Newly Trying To Conceivers Should Know

If you’ve been around since the beginning of the blog, you know that I’m kinda besties with Ashley from POAS Freak, and was an admin in her Facebook group for a while. On Facebook, just like on here, I am fairly open about our TTC journey. (I know, I’m kinda keeping secrets right now, but hopefully very soon that will change. I mean VERY soon! Like next Tuesday we’ll know the direction our journey is turning.) And even though I am no longer in the role of admin in Ashley’s group, I still find myself-on an almost daily basis-sharing information and answering questions as best I can about TTC. Those conversations are what helped to inspire this post.

So, first…let’s start off with some acronyms that I rattle off a lot, and confuse people with who are just starting their TTC journey.

Common Acronyms Used:

TTC – trying to conceive     CD – cycle day     OPK – ovulation predictor kit     CM – cervical mucus     CP – cervical position     BBT – basal body temperature     LH – luteinizing hormone     EWCM – egg white cervical mucus     LP – luteal phase (the time from ovulation to your period)

And now onto the 5 things that newbie TTC’ers should know.

  • A healthy couple has a 20-25% chance of conceiving each cycle. And it can take up to a year to get pregnant. Do not get discouraged if it doesn’t happen for you the first month that you aren’t using protection.
  • A fertility app, like Fertility Friend, is good to have. BUT, an app is only an app if you all you do with it is add the dates of your period. It is a guesstimate of when your fertile window is and when your period should start based on what is *average* for your cycle length. It becomes more accurate the more data you add to it. Such as your BBT, your CM, your CP, and your OPKs or monitors. And then, even with all of that information…it’s still just an app and can be less than accurate. But the more information you add to each day…including daily symptoms…will make it more accurate for you.
  • A positive OPK does not guarantee ovulation! It’s a good sign, but it can not be relied upon as a certainty that you are ovulating. An OPK is used to detect a LH surges. And while you *should* ovulate 12-48, most likely 12-36, hours after your first positive OPK, it doesn’t always happen like that. You can gear up to ovulate, positive OPK & all the physical signs including fertile or EWCM, and still not ovulate. And it’s not uncommon to have several surges a cycle.
  • Temping or charting your BBT is not meant to help you time ovulation. Temping is more to confirm ovulation. Sometimes there is a dip in your temp the day of ovulation, but not always. And you can have a dip in your temps that is completely and totally unrelated to ovulation. And even if you always have a temp dip the day of ovulation, there is always a chance that you won’t have it any given cycle. So what you’re looking for with temping is confirming that you have ovulated by seeing the temp shift associated with ovulation.
  • A temp shift happens after ovulation because progesterone becomes the dominate hormone of the LP. The follicle that houses the egg becomes the corpus luteum once ovulation takes place, once the egg is released. It’s job is to release progesterone, which is a heat inducing hormone, to help prepare the body for pregnancy should fertilization take place. If there is no pregnancy, the corpus luteum dies off, which means it’s no longer releasing progesterone into your system, your temp will drop and your period will start. If a pregnancy is achieved, you lucky ducky, then the corpus luteum gets a reprieve…if you will, until the placenta is able to take over progesterone production.

I am a big temp pusher. I am not even gonna lie. I think that the smartest way to go is using OPKs along with temping every morning. The reason I believe so strongly in temping to confirm ovulation is based on personal experience. Now, for those of you who don’t know me very well, I am one of those chicks who when she decides to do something, doesn’t do it half ass. As evident by my test stash…

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I do everything up big! I try to have as much control as possible. lol Ok, so back to my point. When you first start using OPKs and start doing research on them, you’ll most likely hear that once you get a positive OPK, you can stop testing. And in theory that works really well. In theory, anyways.

A few months back, long after I started temping and using OPKs, and just when I thought I knew my body perfectly, it proved me wrong. One cycle I got my positive OPK like normal, around CD16. I expected to confirm ovulation with a temp shift within the next couple of days. It didn’t happen. I couldn’t figure out what was going on. So, I started testing again. They slowly started to get darker again…since we always have some level of LH in our system throughout our cycle an OPK will almost always have a second line on the test, it’s very different from a pregnancy test-a positive OPK is when the test line is as dark or darker than the control line. So about 4 days after my first positive OPK, I got another one. And this one brought about a temp shift. Now, if I hadn’t been temping…I never would have known that I didn’t ovulate with that first positive OPK. I would have assumed that I had ovulated, especially since it was around the right time for me, and then been extremely hopeful when my period was “late”. But, because I was temping, I knew that I didn’t ovulate with that positive OPK, I knew when my actual fertile window was, because I started testing again, and was able to confirm ovulation with a temp shift…therefor, I knew that my period was actually right on time…even though I had a longer than normal cycle.

The very next cycle went even stranger. I got a positive OPK around CD17, I believe, and then went annovulatory. I never had a temp shift. I continued to test on my OPKs, but didn’t detect another surge. Now, when my period would have been expected, I spotted for 5 days. Had I not been temping, I would have believed with everything in me that I was pregnant and the spotting was either breakthrough bleeding or implantation bleeding. But, because I was temping…I was able to save myself that pain. Didn’t save myself any aggravation, but heartache yes. I continued to test with my OPKs and finally got another positive about 5 days after the spotting stopped, and confirmed ovulation the next day with a temp shift. So that is why I think temping along with OPKs is the best way to go.

When Did I Become This Girl?

I wish I could say that when it comes to wanting a family I’ve always been the laid back chick, when it happens-it happens. But that just isn’t me. I’ve always wanted babies.

Hell, on our first date I told the hubby, then some guy I thought was sweet, that I wanted babies. Not that I thought at that time he was the man I wanted to father the gaggle of kiddos I wanted. I just felt like he deserved to know that I was…let’s say, eccentric. That sounds good. lol

So fast forward 13 years and almost as many miscarriages, and here we are. A couple who use two apps, a BBT alarm & thermometer, and OPKs.

When I turned 35 last year my fear of never having a baby took on a whole new level of crazy. And I went from being ok with, “it’ll happen when it happens”, to this frantic “I have to have a baby NOW!” So I started using an app to track my cycles and guess when my fertile window was.

It didn’t take long for that to prove to be no help. So when it came time to upgrade my iPhone…I decided it was time to upgrade my TTC app. After finding and downloading 4, I settled on Glow & Ovia and pushed the others out of my life.

And then I discovered that it’s not tracking your cycle, that’s simply the beginning. Actually, it’s for rookies. lol There’s BBT charting…basal body temperature…to help with figuring out when you’re gonna ovulate. And then there’s OPKs…ovulation predicting kits…to really help pinpoint ovulation. Not to mention the teas, and vitamins, and foods-and don’t even get me started on what some are saying coconut oil can do if used as a, well you get the idea.

Now, here I am a couple months shy of my 36th birthday, and this is what a lot of pictures in my camera roll look like:

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That’s right…a good 30% of the photos in my camera roll are pictures depicting my POAS life. (Pee On A Stick) I spend a week waiting for those lines to match in color and then stressing about timing sex. And trust me, there’s is nothing less sexy than scheduling sex. Nothing!

It’s so frustrating when trying to get pregnant is no longer about fun. Ya know?!