Tracking your period. It’s something that if you’ve read any of my other blog posts, you probably wondered why it’s such a big deal? Well, trust me, it is. Understanding your cycle can be the key that unlocks the mystery of why it might take/or is taking some time to conceive and it doesn’t matter if you’re working with a fertility specialized Acupuncturist or a Reproductive Doctor… we’ll all want to know the same details.
Here’s a quick version of what a “normal” cycle looks like:
- Day 1- This is the first day of menstrual flow! Not spotting . . . actual flow. An important day, remember this date!
- If you are taking your temperatures (known as basal body temperature) the we would expect your temperature to be lower than it was at the end of your last cycle. If it takes a couple of days to drop after your period has started, this could indicate endometriosis.
- A “normal” period should last about 4-5 days, not painful, not too heavy, not clotty, bright red flow…basically comes and goes without ruining your life.
- Once your “monthly visitor” leaves for good, things should be rather uneventful for a little bit.
- If you are taking your temperature, we would be looking for it to be relatively even. If it is especially up and down (we call that sawtooth) then that could mean high stress levels which is NOT conducive to baby making!
- As ovulation draws near (roughly Day 14) we end the follicular phase of your cycle and start moving into your luteal phase.
- Ovulation is the official “GO TIME!” Some women feel some cramping during this time, some feel nothing. We would also be looking for good cervical mucus (WHAT! We’re going to talk about that stuff!? YEP!) Good cervical mucus should arrive at the same time as ovulation and should resemble an egg white in consistency and appearance. This stuff is a big deal and needs to be there, however some fertility drugs can dry it up a bit (hello Pre-Seed(R)).
- If you are taking your temperature then we would expect it to rise .5-1 degree indicating an increase in progesterone levels which confirms ovulation. If it doesn’t rise, this could indicate an ovulatory disorder and can be confirmed with a progesterone test on either day 19 or 21.
- If you are using Ovulation Predictor Kits (OPKS’s) then you will pee on a stick 1-2 a day until you get a positive. This indicates the LH (luteinizing hormone) surge which happens first and triggers ovulation about 24-32 hours later. If you don’t get a positive then this could also indicate an issue with ovulation and should be looked into.
- Okay. . . so now we’re in the really important part. The egg has been released, the sperm is in the hunt and hopefully a conception will happen! Assuming that all goes well, implantation is usually happening about 5-8 days after ovulation and this is when the fertilized egg is trying find an awesome spot to set up shop for the next 9 months. Blood flow to the uterus is important at this point so keep moving (good for circulation) and keep your lady parts warm (i.e, try to avoid cold lakes, swimming pools, polar bear plunges…)!!!
- If you are taking your temperature we want to see your temperature go up after ovulation and stay up and stay fairly consistent. Any dips here could indicate a progesterone issue.
- And drum roll please . . . . . Approximately day 28 we’ll be looking for either a period or a positive pregnancy test (and obviously we’re hoping for the second one). Don’t rely just on symptoms to try to guess what’s coming… mother nature can be a real jerk and often symptoms (breast tenderness, fatigue, cramping) can go either way so wait for confirmation. If you get a period that seems strange¸ maybe lighter than usual, still do a pregnancy test as it’s not uncommon for women to have something resembling a period in early pregnancy.
- If you are taking your temperature then we want for the temperature to stay high. If it suddenly drops than that usually indicates your period will be starting within 24 hours.
OK! There you go, that is a breakdown of the what and when’s of a “normal” period and any deviation of this might be worth looking into further. If you do identify any potential issues be sure to keep an open mind about your options. Working with both an Acupuncturist and your regular doctor is a great way to quickly identify and correct any issues that could be getting in the way of your fertility!
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