Everyone knows New York is a very expensive place to live. The constant need to generate income really affects all of us, in every aspect of our lives. One way this financial pressure affects us that we don't talk about enough is that we have to put our dreams of getting pregnant on hold while one or both partners focuses on a career that will allow us to stay here in the city we love.
The major downside to this "financial baby planning" is that we often don't start TTC ("Trying To Conceive") until later in life.
As much as I firmly believe that we are fully capable of naturally conceiving through our thirties (and for many people well into their forties) the fact is that it gets harder as we age.
This doesn't mean we have to run to the RE's office after 3 months of TTC. It just means that we have to make conceiving naturally more of a priority than we might have had to earlier in our lives. Thankfully, there are a couple of straightforward things you can do to maximize your chances.
A lot of people talk about acupuncture for fertility, and of course I love that as a concept. However, the point of this post is not to sell you on a service, rather I want to clearly list a couple of TTC tips you can do for yourself, at home, for free, that will increase your chances.
Tip #1: Forget the 28 Day thing.
Most doctors and medical websites suggest that your menstrual "should" be 28 days long. This is not true. Your menstrual cycle should be exactly as long as it is. 28 days is an average that is useful for academic studying. For many women their cycle lasts 30 days, or 26 days... Ultimately it doesn't matter that much. What does matter is that the cycle is regular, meaning the length doesn't vary a lot from one month to another.
So look at the date when you start your period. I know this is kind of personal for a blog post, but I am going there: Day 1 of your period is the first day that you are really bleeding. If you have some spotting for a day or two before the blood runs more freely, don't count those spotting days as the beginning of the cycle. Day 1 is the first day or normal blood flow.
Then notice the calendar date of the beginning of your next cycle. Whatever that date range is, that's the number of days your cycle lasts. So for instance if you start bleeding on November 1st, and then again you start bleeding on November 30th, your cycle is 29 days long. In other words, Day 1 to Day 1 was 29 days. Thats a cycle.
I'm belaboring this point because very often women come to City Acupuncture thinking that their cycle is long or short, but really the only issue is that they are not counting it correctly. If I can save one person from an RE's office by driving this point home I will feel really satisfied.
Tip #2: Look For The Goo.
Somewhere around day 14, you should notice a thin, clear discharge. It is normal for there to be some of it on your underwear - that's how much of a discharge we are talking. This is your cervical mucus. It's main job is to make it easier for sperm to get up the canal and into your fallopian tubes where it can fertilize an egg. If the terminology gets confusing don't worry too much, the important point is that your very best chance at conception happens while this mucus is there. It will only really last a couple of days (2 - 4 days is average), so you really want to be in baby-makin' mode during this time.
So the cervical mucus only lasts a couple of days. That means you really can only get pregnant (or at least you have the very best chance of getting pregnant) for 2 - 4 days out of the month. Here is another point I come across time and again in clinical practice: A lot of couples feel exasperated by TTC, and they go to the RE after a couple of months out of sheer exhaustion. Let's face it, as we age our libidos go down, and after a while TTC you start to feel like you are in a science experiment, and the whole thing is very un-romantic.
In order to save your sanity and keep the flame as alive as possible, don't have sex before or after the window of maximum fertility. It's just wearing you down.
Now that said, there is a catch: Although the mucus only lasts a couple of days, sperm as the ability to live for a couple of days as long as the environment is right. What that means is that you can have sex for 2 - 3 days before the mucus, and the sperm will still be there when the mucus arrives. This is a major way to maximize your chances... Bt it also leads to a big pitfall in the TTC community...
Tip #4: Don't Overchart.
One major blow when you are TTC for any period of time is that you start to feel like your body is not under your control. You want so badly to get pregnant that when your period comes, you feel betrayed. This is completely understandable. The problem is that in response to this feeling of betrayal and helplessness, the tendency can often be to overcompensate by charting every little detail of your cycle. Although the intention is good, the fact is this is not helpful or healthy, and it has much more to do with trying to exert control over the situation than it has to do with getting pregnant. The stress cause dby overcharting is doing far more damage than the information is worth.
I know this is not the most popular advice. If you'd like to email me directly to talk about it, please feel free: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meanwhile, for anyone still with me, the point is to find some kind of balance between knowing your cycle and trying to control your cycle.
Tip #5: Here are The Things You Should Be Writing Down
While tracking your cycle, there are a number of things you may find that are not working the way they are "supposed" to. Here is a list of things you should note somewhere, because if you do have to speak with a health care provider about trying to conceive these are the things that will be most helpful to know. Again, nobody needs to know every minute detail. Try to stick to this list:
- If your cycle length is really long or really short. For example, a cycle of 45 days can be a sign of an issue, even if it is regular. Ditto a cycle that is 14 days.
- If your cycle length keeps changing.
- If your periods are very painful.
- if you bleed in the middle of the cycle.
- If your cervical mucus does not come, or there is very little of it.
- If the cervical mucus is very sticky, or very watery, or if it has a color or a smell.
This may not be a complete list, these are just the things that I tend to concentrate on in my practice. if you have suggestions for what should be added to this list, please feel free to leave them in the comments below!