It’s been awhile since we started down this road, and I have learned more than I really ever needed to know about fertility. Since we have some down time before our next cycle, I thought I could share that knowledge, in case anyone reading this is early in the journey and wondering what the next steps are.
First, TTC–what they don’t teach you in sex ed. Yes, you need to have sex to get pregnant, but contrary to what they teach you in high school, it’s not really that simple. You are fertile for about 4 days every month. 3 or so days before you ovulate and one day after you ovulate. In order to get pregnant, you have to have sex when you are ovulating. If you go by averages, the “average” woman will ovulate on day 14 of her cycle, so the “average” woman should have sex on cycle days 10-15 in order to maximize her chances of getting pregnant.
If you don’t ovulate, you ovulate irregularly, or you just ovulate on a different schedule, this isn’t going to work. So the first step in TTC is to figure out if/when you are ovulating. There are two ways to do this. One: ovulation predictor kits. Expensive if you buy at the drugstore, really really cheap if you buy from amazon.com. Pee on one every day from cycle day 7 on and wait until the second line is darker than the control line. This marks your “LH surge” and you should ovulate in the next 12-36 hours. Second: basal body temperature. Take you temperature every morning before getting out of bed. Write it down. When it increases more than 0.5-1 degree, you have ovulated. OPKs tell you when you should ovulate, BBT tells you if you did ovulate.
Do this for 3-4 months. You may find you are “average” and ovulate on cycle day 14 every single month. You may find you actually ovulate on cycle day 16, so having sex days 10-15 probably won’t work really well for you. You may find you don’t ovulate at all. If you aren’t ovulating, go see a doctor. Yes, you are typically told the “average” couple can take up to 12 months to conceive. But if you have an identifiable problem, I think it is perfectly reasonable to go sooner.
And if you do ovulate? That’s when the fun testing comes in…