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  FAQ about TTC
(and other TLA's)

These are a few of my favourite links explaining the mysteries of trying to conceive (TTC)

Where should I start?
How can I tell when I ovulate?
How to track Basal Body Temperature (BBT)
How to track Cervical Mucous (CM)
How to track Cervical Position (CP)
Ovulation Predictor Kits (OPK)
Maybe Baby or similar
What were your first cycles like after coming off the pill
Very early pregnancy symptoms
How early should I test?

Disclaimer: The information below is true and correct to the best of my knowledge, however it has been derived predominately from the internet or personal experience. It should never be used as a replacement for professional medical advice.

Where should I start?
A great way to start is to learn how to track you cycle. These are some great sites for learning about the basics.
Fertility Friend
Baby Hopes

A typical cycle goes for 28 days, although you’ll find most women have a cycle which is either longer or shorter.

Women usually ovulate around 14 days before their next period. I have heard of medical professionals saying that it must be 14 days between ovulation and menstruation, however anecdotal evidence says although this is the most common length of time, there are always exceptions to the rule.

Here are a couple of web sites with a pictorial representation of the different hormones at the different stages of a cycle:
Wikibooks - GCSE Science
My Dr

Here is a rough synopsis of the hormones changing and how we can see that change:
Days 1-5: Menstrual Phase
Menstruation for 3-5 days
Luteinising hormone (LH) is moderate
Estrogen is moderate
Progesterone is low
Cervical mucus is low and sticky
Cervix is low and firm and open
Temperature drops and remains low

Days 5-14: Proliforative Phase
Uterus lining (endometrial tissue) grows
LH is constant until a large surge just before ovulation (+ve OPK reading should happen at this point)
Estrogen gradually increases until it peaks at ovulation
Progesterone remains low
Cervical mucus gradually increases and becomes more and more like egg white
Cervix gradually rises and becomes soft and open
Temperature remains low and may dip at the time of ovulation

Day 14: Ovulation

Days 14-28: Luteal Phase
Endometrial tissue continues to grow
LH drops back to a constant level
Estrogen gradually dips to its pre-ovulation level, and then gradually rises again to a maximum near the end of the cycle, before it returns to moderate levels
Progesterone builds gradually until it is approximately equal to the estrogen levels on day 21 (increasing anxiety and irritability levels), and then gradually drops towards the end of the cycle
Cervical mucus reduces and becomes sticky
Cervix returns to being low, firm and closed
Temperature gradually rises.

How can I tell when I ovulate?
Very good question. And unfortunately not an easy one!
There are 5 main ways to tell when you ovulate, but even using all those methods, there are still a good few women who can't tell.
The main ways are:
Measure your Basal Body Temperature (BBT)
Keep track of your Cervical Mucous (CM)
Keep track of your Cervical Position (CP)
Use an Ovulation Prediction Kit (OPK)
Use a Maybe Baby (or similar)

These are also all discussed individually in more detail below.

The following link is to a lovely overview by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (Thanks NicoleE!) Ovulation detection (pdf)

How to track Basal Body Temperature (BBT)
The most important thing you should know is that it should be done as soon as you wake up, before you move, talk or do anything else. It is preferable to do it at the same time each day.
Fertility Friend

How to track Cervical Mucous (CM)
Your cervical mucous changes in appearance and quantity at different times of the month. Around ovulation it will look like egg white or be clear and watery. The following pages give good descriptions:
Beyond Fertility
Web Womb
Baby Hopes

There are numerous suggestions out there on how to increase the quality of your CM:
Baby Snark

If you still find yourself a bit low on fertile CM, be aware that most lubricants (and also saliva) are not good for sperm. The following is a link to a commercial sperm friendly lubricant. Other home remedies include (chicken) egg whites and vegetable oil, but I'll leave you and Google to find out more about the details of those...
Pre Seed

How to track Cervical Position (CP)
Your cervix also changes position and texture during your cycle. Be warned that checking your cervix can introduce an infection, so you must always take great care to use clean hands and do not check too frequently. Some doctors recommend against this method because of the risks. That said, I find this the most reliable method of following my cycle.
Beyond Fertility
Web Womb
Baby Hopes
Garden of Fertility (photos of the cervix - Warning! These are graphic.)

Ovulation Prediction Kits (OPKs)
OPK's are something you buy from the supermarket, chemist or online. You put your urine on the test strip at the right time of the month, and two lines show up if you are about to ovulate. The pitfalls of OPKs are that the surge of hormones for some women can be very short, making it necessary to test more than once a day (which can get expensive if you have irregular cycles and no idea when you're ovulating). The surge can also be small meaning that the test line never gets darker than the control line, which can make it difficult to interpret when you've ovulated. Also if you are using fertility treatments, the OPKs may no longer give accurate results (see the individual test instructions on the product for details on this).

Lots of good info on OPKs:
Pee on a stick.com

Here are some links for online sites where you can buy OPKS:
Lullaby Conceptions
Fertility Natropath (based in Brisbane)

Maybe Baby (or similar)
Maybe Baby or similar is a product which tests your hormone levels in your saliva. By placing your saliva on a slide, letting it dry and looking at it under a microscope. Leading up to ovulation, the saliva will show partial ferning, and at ovulation you should see full ferning. This test costs more initially than OPKs, but may work out cheaper in the long run. The pitfall of this type of test is that some women will get ferning at many times through their cycle, while some will never see any ferning at all.

Here are some links for online sites where you can buy Saliva tests:
Chemist Australia

What were your first cycles like after coming off the pill
This was my first question when I started TTC, and frustratingly I couldn't find much about it on the internet, other than that your cycle will eventually return to what it was like before you started taking the pill (helpful for those clever women who kept track of their cycles before going on the pill, but not very helpful for me!)

I would like to start building up a collection of what your symptoms were like coming off the pill. Please email them to me if you would like to share your symptoms: (by the way although I say here the pill, I am also interested in your story if you were using another sort of contraceptive)
Tell me your symptoms after contraceptives
Other people's symptoms after stopping the pill

Very early pregnancy symptoms
This is the best site I have seen with real symptoms felt by women in the two week wait:
Two Week Wait

How early should I test?
Difficult question, but one everyone is bound to ask sooner or later. Here are the facts so far as I can find. Home pregnancy Tests (HPTs) detect levels of hCG in your urine. The best ones I have found detect levels as low as 10 U/mL. These say you can use them up to 7 days before your expected period. You start producing hCG from the day of implantation, which is typically (in 84% of women) 8-10 days after ovulation (can be 6 to 12 days)

* At 14 DPO, the average HCG level is 48 mIU/ml, with a typical range of 17-119 mIU/ml.
* At 15 DPO, the average HCG level is 59 mIU/ml, with a typical range of 17-147 mIU/ml.
* At 16 DPO, the average HCG level is 95 mIU/ml, with a typical range of 33-223 mIU/ml.
* At 17 DPO, the average HCG level is 132 mIU/ml, with a typical range of 17-429 mIU/ml.
* At 18 DPO, the average HCG level is 292 mIU/ml, with a typical range of 70-758 mIU/ml.


This risk of chemical pregnancies (i.e. very early miscarriages before 6 weeks) also depends on the time of implantation:
13% pregnancy loss if implantation was on 9DPO
26% on 10 DPO
52% on 11 DPO
86% on 12 DPO or more
(Research by AJ Wilcox)

So if you test early and get a negative, you might have just tested too early, if you test early and get a positive, there is a fair chance it will turn into a negative in the next few weeks. If you can cope with this mind game, by all means test as much as you want. However, many people will recommend that you wait until your period is late before you test.

Lots of good info on HPTs can be found here:
Pee on a stick.com