Eggxactly what you need to know about ovulation

Knowing your cycle and building your knowledge on ovulation is going to make you feel more in control when you’re in the depths of treading water every month on this journey. I’ve met and spoken to so many women over the years that have told me they don’t want to track ovulation because they find it stressful and because ‘normal’ women just get caught pregnant from having sex I think sometimes there is a sense of it will happen when it happens or so we are told.

The well meaning words of loved ones ‘your time will come’ or ‘it wasn’t your month’ grind you down and they have no idea that behind the scenes fertility absorbs you every day, every hour, every moment is taken over with frantically panicking about if you will get pregnant this month. 

Taking control of your fertility and knowing that you did absolutely everything you possibly could have done at the end of the month, I always found made the big fat negatives that little bit easier. I was less stressed when I decided to take charge of my fertility and when I knew my body and exactly what was going on. Yes it’s true that stress can cause delayed ovulation but no matter how much you tell a woman that is trying for a baby not to stress about it, she is going to but she’s probably just going to keep that stress to herself instead of talking to you about it because you have said to relax and not to read so much into it. However even though it’s not really relevant to this subject I will say it as I think it’s so important for people to know, stress does not cause miscarriage, there is no scientific evidence to prove that stress can cause a pregnancy loss, so whatever you do never say to a woman maybe if she was less stressed it wouldn’t have happened because that is categorically not true. A loss is never your fault and you didn’t cause it. 

I cannot tell you how many women that I have supported that have told me they have had a referral to their local sub fertility clinic, because their Gp said they aren’t ovulating when in fact they have been ovulating but just not in a 28 day cycle and so when the gp investigates for them with a day 21 progesterone test they may as well just be shooting in the dark! Im not sure when we will ever catch up with the fact that a 28 day cycle is not the norm for probably most women and especially if they have another factor like pcos or endo even more so! 

I ran a zoom session focussing on taking control of your fertility last year and had 13 women join who all either had a referral to sub fertility or had been trying to conceive for longer than 10 months. During the zoom it very quickly became apparent that each woman’s knowledge of their cycle was very basic if there at all. We spent time talking through every aspect of the cycle and things to help improve their chances and how to really get to know when they were ovulating. After 3 months 8 of the 13 women had conceived, some of them didn’t need ivf they just needed to equip them self with more knowledge of fertility, if only all of this was taught at school, but instead we are taught how not to get pregnant and how to avoid it at all costs.

Relying on an app on your phone to tell you your most fertile days is not going to cut it until your app has inputted data that is personal to you and a good amount of cycles to start to see any sort of pattern. “ Well we did it on the days my app said” is another regular comment I hear, your app doesn’t know your hormone levels or outside factors that may be affecting you this month. 

Another common myth is that tracking ovulation and seeing a positive ovulation test means that you definitely ovulated, this is incorrect the only way to know that you did ovulate and to confirm ovulation is either through tracking your core body temperature or to have it confirmed with a blood test or scan. 

So basically just peeing on sticks is not the answer! To get a good picture of what is going on I would say you need to do it all… you need to do your ovulation tests to preempt and pin point that you are getting close to ovulation and then tracking core body temp will confirm your ovulation so that you don’t stop trying too soon! We also need to talk about cervical mucus, if that makes you uncomfortable then buckle up for that moist paragraph.  Something else that many people do is they stop trying way too early! I would advise you keep on going until you have a confirmed ovulation as you can have a much longer lh surge than you think! 

I’m going to talk through what I recommend and what you need to do to make sure you are covering all bases and giving yourself the best chance of conceiving each cycle that you try. When it comes to ovulation tests I tried many over the years and the ones I got on best with were the brand Easy@home I used to purchase them on Amazon, one step are a good cheap alternative but I found them a bit thin and flimsy when I was being super hardcore! 

Now I was an old school temping woman and used a Basel body thermometer to measure my vaginal temp every morning on waking up but this is super tricky to get to grips with and also it’s very easy to jump up and go for a pee or just to totally forget! Thank god for Ovusense! Takes the stress away and will record your temp so there’s no chance of you forgetting on those most crucial days, it will build your unique pattern based on data from your cycle that is personalised to you and store it all in an app for you, so when it predicts your ovulation it is way more accurate than old school temping and random apps with no personalised data other than dates of your periods!

Ovusense have several products you can try, if your not to sure about vaginal temping they have OvuFirst which is their monitor that is placed on your skin and gathers data that way. If you find it’s not for you or not as accurate as you would have liked then you can go for ovucore which is the egg that you put in before bed and sleep with it in your vagina and it records your core body temp which will be super accurate! I know that may freak some people out but honestly you just get used to it and it’s not uncomfortable it’s actually easy to forget it’s even in! We have had some funny stories at support group of OvuCore eggs floating in the toilet in a morning during a sleepy dash to the loo!

Amy from our group used the OvuCore during a successful cycle of conceiving that resulted in her rainbow baby after 7 losses. I asked her to share her experience with me of using an ovusense product and this is what she had to say;

After going through multiple miscarriages, I found it quite triggering sometimes having to track my cycle every month knowing potentially what might happen at the end. I came across ovusense on a Facebook advert and thought it might help the situation and it really did. All I had to do was put the ovucore in at bedtime and it did the rest for me; tracking my temperature through the night to give an average basal temperature and then collating the data to put into my chart. I felt like I had a lot to deal with during my cycles so this was one real benefit to me that something else could take one part of the journey for me and it was one less thing for me to have to worry about.

Out of 6 cycles using ovusense I managed to achieve pregnancy on 4 of them; unfortunately 3 of those times ended in miscarriage but the last of those times resulted in my rainbow baby! 

Here is a run down of what happens in the different phases your your cycle, 

Day 1 of your cycle is the first day of your period when you start bleeding this is the start of the new cycle. Your body is shedding the endometrial lining and basically you have a clean slate before your hormones now start the cycle over again. So many people seem to get confused if whether or not they can conceive when on their period, the answer is no you can’t, unless you are having a bleed in the middle of your cycle and you don’t know where in your cycle you are, then that is an exception I guess! If you are on day one of your cycle and are menstruating your not going to conceive. This is the follicular stage of your cycle, your body is maturing a follicle ready to release and your estrogen will begin to rise to thicken and create the new lining after your period.

Around the middle of your cycle is when your estrogen hormone will peak and the LH surge will occur. When you are using ovulation tests whether they are pee on a paper stick ones or digital ones this is what they are detecting your lh surge, when they detect the surge that is when you will get your positive test, if you are using a paper type tests then the line will be as strong as or stronger than the test line, the lh surge is here! This means though that the egg is going to release in around 24 hours time and so the lh surge does not signal that ovulation has taken place and this is where a lot of people get confused. So when you get your surge this is your body letting you know the egg will be released normally the following day or day after.

If we are going to get down with the lingo then we need to learn dpo (days past ovulation) this term is quite critical in the trying to conceive and recurrent pregnancy loss world because many women that are having to take certain drugs they are instructed to take them on a certain dpo and so for them it’s so important to be able to pin point their ovulation each month. 1dpo will be 2 days after your lh surge, because you have the positive for instance on a Wednesday the egg will follow 24 hours (ish) after the positive taking you to Thursday and so one day past ovulation is add on another day making it Friday.

Once the lh surge has occurred the estrogen that has built up and prepared your lining will now drop and progesterone is the key hormone for your luteal phase. The luteal phase is the days between ovulation and your period arriving, during the luteal phase your progesterone hormone rises and this helps to maintain the thick lining so that if you have conceived the implantation of the embryo can take place. Your higher progesterone level also makes your core body temperature rise which will drop as your progesterone level drops and your period is about to begin. If an egg hasn’t released and you are not ovulating then a blood test to check your progesterone level around 7 days after you should have ovulated would show a doctor that your progesterone level is low and therefore ovulation hasn’t taken place.

It is really crucial that you have at least a ten day luteal phase for a pregnancy to be able to occur, if your luteal phase is shorter then this would be a sign that you have a luteal phase defect and potentially have low progesterone that is dipping too soon therefore impairing implantation. This is why it is a good idea to be tracking your core body temperature as you may be able to spot a pattern that is a occurring within your cycle over several months and then with your data you have collated you can take the issue to a doctor and ask for help.

Ok that’s a quick break down of your cycle, so what should you do? If you really don’t know your cycle at all then I would advise starting to pee on your sticks as soon as your period ends, the lh surge tends to happen later in the day and so unlike a pregnancy test you may get better results later in the day, if your a full on crazy fertility Queen like myself then I would just do one every time you go to pee!

I used to line my sticks up on my dressing table and getting some very strange looks from my husband when he would be opening the curtains, I could see him looking at my pee drenched sticks with fear… fear of my announcement that it’s time! You also want to start tracking your core body temperature for the majority of your cycle too if not every day as this is going to give you the best indication of your hormone levels and impending ovulation. If you are using your ovucare product I would just use OvuFirst every night of the month, if you feel more comfortable using ovucore once not bleeding then just start as soon as you are ready. 

With your ovulation tests you want to see the line get equally as dark as the test line! There more than likely will always be a second line… this so not the same as a pregnancy test, your ‘peak’ is when your lines are equally as dark as each other. When you hit your peak these are your 3 most important days for trying! Your ovusense monitor will confirm ovulation for you usually around 3 days after ovulation occured (3dpo 😉) you then know once ovulation is confirmed that you had done all you can and can stop trying. 

Along side your testing and temping either manually or with ovusense monitor I recommend going old school and keeping an eye on your cervical mucus/discharge. In the first part of your cycle after your period you will notice that your discharge becomes white/creamy and a thicker consistency, as you start to approach your most fertile part of the cycle your mucus will become more see through and clear in consistency and then you may notice right around the time of ovulation what we tend to refer to as egg white mucus, a clear thick stringy discharge… when you get this it is usually go time!! After ovulation you will notice your mucus turn less fertile and return to a creamy/white state and may get thicker in the run up to your period.

Right so what’s left to talk about, oh of course, when should you do the baby making! Spermies have a maximum 5 day life span and your egg sticks around for about 24 hours. So any intercourse in the 4 days before ovulation and the 24 hours after you ovulate is the best chance of conceiving. There is lots of research about sperm quality and too much for me to go into it now but if you are interested then there’s lots to consider- motility, dna damage & morphology.

A couple of key things when it comes to sperm though are, if your partner has no known sperm issues then you don’t want old sperm so make sure your partner has dropped some tadpoles at the pond at least 24 hours before your fertile window! The main cause of damaged sperm is heat so you need to get the men some loose fitting boxers… no one wants to have sweaty balls surely anyway! No hot baths or use of hot tubs! We need to get these spermies nice and chilly, a morning cold shower on their baubles can do wonders! Alcohol is a big no no for sperm quality and healthy eating helps to improve quality too… I’ll let you figure out how your going to tackle that one.

Another piece of advice when trying in the fertile window is to not go too hard (excuse the pun) too soon! Hold on to your knickers…… The smep plan (sperm meets egg plan) is great for a slow build up and not burning out the men before the time that it really matters!

The smep plan is where you start trying from day 9 of your cycle every other day and then from your peak day you do 3 final days in a row… if it’s too much and you won’t manage it then just do what you can!

I’ll never forget that relief feeling of no more sex that month! Thank the lord it was over! The pressure is unreal and the chore is done! You can sit back and know you really really TRIED! People’s idea of ‘we are trying for a baby’ variates massively.. for some just no contraception means they are trying but when I said I was trying it was literally a full time job, a schedule with daily seminars and performance reports! 

Next time someone tells you to relax tell them to follow our charity on social media and that it’s really not all that simple. 

Follow me on Insta @chasingrainbowscharityuk 

Keep on chasing rainbows 

Sam xxx

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