The process of trying to conceive is both amazing and terrifying. When it works, it is a beautiful thing, and at the end, there is the growth of your family with a baby. When it doesn’t work, it is a time consuming, mind altering process, and if you know me, I’ve been in this process since approximately six months after my son was born.
My husband and I have been through everything except IVF at this point. We’ve done months of Clomid, Letrozole, Clomid + Letrozole, Trigger shot after trigger shot, injectable meds (which really make you a crazy person), and IUI after IUI. If you don’t know all the terminology I’m using, there’s a set of key terms at the bottom of this post.
After having Aeneas, we hoped we’d be able to get pregnant easier than the first time around. Unfortunately this wasn’t in the cards for us. We tried, naturally for almost nine months, and then decided we needed to see a doctor about my PCOS and check to see what was going on with it. Nothing different was detected, so we started on Clomid with a trigger shot, and did that for six months, with an IUI starting month three, and each month after that around my ovulation.
When that didn’t work, we switched to Letrozole and a trigger shot plus IUI for another six months. I temped every morning at the same time, charted all things chartable (as seen in the image on the right), checked opks 2-3 times a day once I was close to ovulation, and then did HCG test (pregnancy strips) starting at 8dpo to see if I was pregnant or not. As you can see, there is so much that goes into trying to conceive when its not happening naturally.
Here’s what a normal day of trying to conceive looked like for me:
- 7:00am – wake up and take my temp before getting up
- 7:30am – do an hcg test (if after ovulation)
- 11:00am – do another opk (if pre-ovulatory)
- 4:30pm – do another opk (if pre-ovulatory)
- 8:00pm – take fertility meds if during beginning of my cycle, otherwise take all my normal meds and supplements before bed (pre-natal, l-methylfolate, metformin, and my personal meds)
Wake up and do the same thing all over again. Plus, I had multiple doctors visits during the month (do ultrasounds on my uterus and ovaries to make sure follicles are growing well, and my lining is thickening), blood work, and when it was time, the IUI.
If you’ve been through this, you can understand how this daily routine can get incredibly draining; continually hoping that you’ll be pregnant when the odds are stacked against you.
Things YOU Can do To Help Your Fertility
I recently read a fascinating book on fertility and things you can do to give yourself the best chance possible to get pregnant (in spite of any medical conditions you may have): It Starts with the Egg by Rebecca Fett, which can be found on Amazon here.*
I highly recommend this book to anyone who has been trying to conceive for at least six months, has been diagnosed with PCOS, multiple miscarriages, diminished ovarian reserve, or any other condition causing infertility.
Having read this book, I’ve taken away these steps that I will be starting in April.
- Change my diet to that of a Mediterranean Style – Low-Carb, high in good fats and proteins. Lots of veggies, meat/fish and good fats (avocado, EVOO, etc.), only complex carbs, such as quinoa, lentils and wild rice (although, I’m looking at going pretty strict at the almost no carb thing to begin with).
- Exercise for at least 30min every day, ON TOP of my 10,000 steps per day.
- Try to get a solid 5-7hrs of sleep at night (honestly, this is one of the hardest for me, as my RA joint pain makes it so I don’t sleep as well as I would like).
- Start taking supplements, including:
- Garden of Life Vegetarian Prenatal Multivitamin Supplement from Amazon: http://amzn.to/2oI3iZo*
- Inositol (specifically for those with PCOS) from Amazon: http://amzn.to/2oqDCS0*
- Ubiquinol CoQ10 from Amazon: http://amzn.to/2oqxvwK*
- N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine (NAC) (specifically for those with PCOS) from Amazon: http://amzn.to/2nrLJgh*
- See an OB/GYN or Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) to figure out a plan for trying to conceive, whether that be using Clomid and doing IUIs, or going to the next step of IVF.
- Temp and Chart. Get a good app on your phone – the one is use is FertilityFriend – and I highly recommend it. You can find their website here, and they explain how to temp, chart, and other fertility else you may have questions about.
I’m Always Here
I’m going to continue to chronicle our attempts to get pregnant, but know that I am always here if you need someone to talk to. I highly recommend joining online forums for trouble trying to conceive, or having a small secret Facebook group if you have other friends who are in the same/similar place as you. Having people who are going through this, and understand the emotions and thoughts that happen during this period of your life is so important.
I also recommend seeing a therapist who specifically deals with those who have infertility. Being able to talk out what you are thinking and feeling to someone who can give you advice on how to deal with these emotions can make the difference between a bad month, and a debilitating month. Don’t be afraid to ask people for help! YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
Some Key Terminology of Infertility
Clomid – A drug, causes the pituitary glad to release hormones to stimulate egg maturation and ovulation
dpo – Days past ovulation
FSH – Follicle Stimulating Hormone
Follicle (or Follie) – a fluid-filled sac that contains an immature egg
Letrozole – Reduces the amount of estrogen in the body, thereby causing the brain and pituitary to create more FSH
HCG – Human chorionic gonadotropin – what your body produces once you’re pregnant (the hormone that pregnancy tests look for)
IUI – Intrauterine Insemination
IVF – In Vitro Fertilization
PCOS – Polycycstic Ovarian Syndrome – a common health problem caused by an imbalance of reproductive hormones. With PCOS, the egg may not develop as it should or it may not be released during ovulation as it should be. PCOS can cause missed or irregular menstrual periods. Irregular periods can lead to:
A. Infertility. In fact, PCOS is one of the most common causes of female infertility.
B. Development of cysts (small fluid-filled sacs) in the ovaries
Trigger Shot – A high dose of HCG that helps your body release any mature eggs on your ovaries