I feel like my biological clock is ticking and I am nervous that it is going to take me a long time to get pregnant. Is there anything that I can do to speed up the process?|
Most women, especially those attempting to become pregnant for the first time, share this concern with you. It is a very awkward position to be in; you desire to become a mother and yet you are at the mercy of your partner's body and your own to help make this dream become a reality. Rest assured that 95% women become pregnant within twelve months of trying to conceive, and if it takes a bit longer, think of all the fun you will have "trying"!
A great way to help take charge of your fertility is to begin charting your basal body temperature. Your basal body temperature is your body's temperature first thing in the morning. This is pre-coffee, pre-tooth brushing, pre-good morning kiss. By charting this all important morning number, you will be able to better understand your body's monthly cycle, identify when on average you ovulate, and greatly increase your likelihood of conceiving in any given month. Charting your daily basal body temperature is quick, inexpensive, and easy. Before you begin, here are a few important facts that will help you understand why this trick-of-the-trade works.
- First, your monthly cycle is controlled by two main hormones; estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen, the star of the show for the first half of your cycle, helps your body produce the egg that will be released by your ovaries during ovulation.
- The hormone progesterone takes over the second half of your cycle and if you conceive, its levels will stay elevated throughout your pregnancy. If you do not conceive, your progesterone levels will decrease with the beginning of menstruation.
- Estrogen is your body's "cooler" hormone. When your estrogen levels are high, your basal body temperature will be low.
- Progesterone, on the other hand is a "warm" hormone. As your progesterone level increases, so does your basal body temperature.
- When you begin charting your daily temperature, you should begin to notice a pattern. Your morning temperature should begin in the 97.0-97.6 range. These first few weeks of your cycle will be when your estrogen is at its peak. Once you ovulate, and your progesterone increases, you should notice a jump of at least .2 degrees Fahrenheit in your basal body temperature. If this jump in temperatures occurs, and is sustained for at least three consecutive days, you have most likely ovulated.
So how does this morning method help you conceive? First, it will help you identify when in your cycle you are most likely to ovulate. Many women assume that they ovulate around day 14 of their cycle. If, in fact, you tend to ovulate on day 11 or on day 18, you and your partner may be missing your most fertile moments each and every month and not even know it. By charting your cycle for a few months, you should be able to detect a pattern in your ovulation and then time your sexual intimacy accordingly.
These basal body temperature charts can also be very beneficial for your doctor. If after several months of charting, you are not beginning to see a pattern indicative of ovulation, your physician may be able to intervene and assist you in your parenthood quest. My husband and I found this to be the case. Unbeknownst to me, my ovulation was particularly irregular. After spending nearly a year trying to conceive our first child, I began charting my cycles and learned that I did not ovulate on my own. My doctor was able to study my charts and prescribe the drug Clomid which one miraculous cycle and ten months later allowed us to finally welcome our beautiful baby girl into the world.
So how do you get started? First gather the following:
- A basal body thermometer These easy-to-use thermometers can be purchased at most drug stores for less than ten dollars. I prefer using a digital one that beeps when it is done reading your morning temperature and stores the all-important number for a while. This allows you to record and chart your temperature later in the morning when you are "really" awake. You know, post-coffee, post-tooth brushing, and post-good morning kiss!
- A graph for charting Feel free to use a simple piece of graph paper with columns labeled for each day (and date) of your cycle. Label the rows in one-tenth degree increments ranging from at least 97.0 up to 98.6. If you prefer to have one created for you, there are several books on basal body temperature charting available with sample charts and graphs included within them.
Then, let the charting (and conceiving) begin! Start charting your fertility cycle on the first day of your period. The key to using this tool is to take your temperature at the exact same time everyday. If you normally get up for work at 6:00 am, it will be important to set your alarm clock for 5:55 am all week long...including the weekends. In order to get accurate data to analyze, you must keep your daily temperature time the same. The good news is that you don't have to start your day that early on the weekends...you just have to take your temperature. Feel free to pop in the thermometer, wait for the beep, then roll right back over and go back to sleep. As long as you remember to record your temperature later in the day, you are just fine! Then begin looking for patterns. Some women notice a slight dip in their morning temperature the day before they ovulate and therefore peak. As you become more familiar with your unique fertility cycle, you and your partner may find that it will be much easier to conceive your baby than you ever imagined.