We are keeping things simple today!
In order to conceive, you need to ovulate.
And in order for conception to occur, sperm and egg need to meet.
And In order to maintain that pregnancy, you need to have adequate progesterone production during those crucial first 13 weeks.
Progesterone comes from the corpus luteum post-ovulation, and it is the main source of progesterone production all the way up until the second trimester when the placenta takes over. The health of your corpus luteum cannot be overstated! Check out this study here.
I decided to call this blog post "The Art of Mastering Your Ovulation" because it is simply that -- AN ART. I say this because your body is not some robotic, mechanicalized, static being. Things are not always "text-book".
Your body is NUANCED. It is EVER-CHANGING. It is RESPONSIVE to your environment and world around you. Things may not be the same month to month, so getting to know these nuances within your own cycle is crucial.
THE QUALITY OF YOUR OVULATION TELLS US SO MUCH ABOUT THE STATE OF YOUR HORMONAL HEALTH AND HOW LIKELY YOU ARE TO CONCEIVE AND CARRY A PREGNANCY.
It also gives us tremendous information into what is happening inside your body during your luteal phase, aka "the two-week wait" for those of us in the TTC world. Check out the post I wrote about what happens hormonally during each phase of your menstrual cycle.
Knowing your body’s ovulatory patterns is absolutely key in conceiving your sweet little baby boo. I recommend checking out my free webinar about ovulation if you’re uncertain what this looks like. Hugely valuable information in there!
You know you’re having robust ovulation if you see the increase in basal body temperature by 0.6-1 degrees Fahrenheit after your egg is released, AND you maintain that increase in temperature throughout the duration of your luteal phase.
If you’re tracking your post ovulatory temperatures and you are not seeing a sharp rise in your BBT, and you’re seeing more of a gradual rise over the course of a few days, this could be telling us that the health of your corpus luteum needs addressing.
If you’re finding that your temperature declines gradually over several days prior to your period, this is also another clue that you likely aren’t generating enough progesterone. This combined with brown spotting prior to your first day of bleeding is a pretty telltale sign that you definitely need help with progesterone production.
I have been very open about my PCOS diagnosis and my subsequent fertility challenges. I began tracking my cycle years ago and became very serious about it when we were actively trying for a baby. After years of tracking my cervical mucus, my BBT, and my cervical positioning, I became very aware of my body's patterns.
I was consistently ovulating, but my temperature rise was gradual over 3-4 days post ovulation, and it steadily decreased about 3-4 days before my period would start. Some months my luteal phase was only 8-9 days long, another indicator that my progesterone production was sluggish. A healthy luteal phase is anywhere from 11-16 days, or the lifespan of the corpus luteum. While this information was upsetting to me at first, I realized that this was all wisdom from deep inside my body. Remember, your body is always communicating with you!
So in figuring all of this out, I now had some great information on my hands:::
a) I was indeed ovulating! Yay! Can’t make a baby if you don’t ovulate, and
b) I knew where to put my attention in terms of enhancing my fertility (improve the quality of my ovulation and support progesterone production)
So that is what I did!
I continued to improve my metabolism, continued to eat the highest quality, most nutrient dense foods that I could afford, improved my mineral consumption and utilization, worked daily to actively lower my stress load, incorporated whole food B vitamins, ate foods that are naturally high in vitamin B6 (which improves the body’s natural progesterone production), ate enough, and ate OFTEN.
(Also PS: progesterone is super important, even if you're not trying to get pregnant. Check out a post I wrote on this topic here.)
It’s hard to talk about ovulation and trying to conceive without mentioning those dreaded ovulation sticks. I have beef with those little blue Premom strips you can get for 15 bucks off Amazon. I used them for 2 years and only ONCE saw a dark line indicating ovulation, even though I was tracking my temps, cervical mucus and cervical positioning and KNEW I was ovulating! Needless to say, they caused me a horrendous amount of anxiety, which surprise surprise is no bueno when TTC
Also a word to the wise -- these strips are even more unreliable if you are a woman with a history of PCOS, anovulatory cycles, hypothalamic amenorrhea, or unpredictable ovulatory patterns.
I decided to take my ovulation tracking up a notch by using the Oova. This technology is much more sophisticated than the Premoms from Amazon lol. It gives you an actual percentage of your luteinizing hormone prior to ovulation AND your progesterone percentage after you ovulate. I only used Oova for 3 cycles prior to conceiving, and honestly it was worth every penny. I am not an affiliate for this brand, just sharing what I did leading up to conceiving our sweet Wyatt Boo! And with each consecutive cycle, my progesterone percentage got higher and higher! So again, more insightful information from my body that the dietary changes, lifestyle shifts, and intentional living I was doing was paying off!
My biggest piece of advice for any woman out there trying to conceive, looking to optimize her chances of conceiving, and praying and hoping for that positive pregnancy test each month, is this::
Become a master at observing your ovulatory patterns. (Again, you can't make a baby if you're not ovulating, and you can't sustain a pregnancy if you're having weak ovulations.) Get knowledgeable about HOW you can take charge of your fertility with resources like my free How To Know If You're Ovulating webinar, and books like Taking Charge Of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler. Know your body inside and out. Become so unbelievably in tune with your body, it's signs & it's symptoms, that you can HEAR it when its signaling to you that something is off. And TRUST IT when everything is moving along the right path.
This is why body literacy and knowledge of your own patterns is so crucial today. There is power in knowing yourself and your body so well. This knowledge is why, at the very moment of writing this post, I have a sleeping baby on my chest, after medical doctors told me I would need IVF to conceive my baby, and that I might never conceive my baby. And while mastering my ovulation and having body literacy weren't the only things that led to this sweet soul drooling on me right now haha, they were hugely integral to it. It is only in knowing my own patterns that I discovered that I ovulate on days 17-19 of my cycle, and not days 12-14, like the literature says is "normal" for all women. This is what I'm talking about. This is why its important to know what is normal FOR YOU.
Get to know your body. Chart your cycle. Track your temperatures. Get to know your body's patterns. Master your menstrual cycle, and lmk when you get your positive pregnancy test 😚
Yours In Abundant Health!