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What To Do When You're Not Getting Pregnant (full text)

First and foremost, when we find that we want to get pregnant and nothing's happening, we want to make sure that we're having a regular period. A regular, healthy period usually comes approximately every 26-32 days, and should come consistently at the same time each month. Additionally, the quality, in terms of how long and how heavy the flow, should remain consistent from month to month. It is especially helpful to note that, while their is a fair amount of variation in cycles among women, the most important thing for pregnancy is that the timing and quality of our period remains consistent and regular. This demonstrates that we are in a healthy rhythm for our unique body and constitution, and this is what matters most for making babies! It is not uncommon for some women, especially those with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) to have a cycle that is longer, and, for example, closer to 35 or 40 days. This does not mean that we are unable to achieve a healthy pregnancy if we are one of these women, it simply means that we have to ensure that we are experiencing healthy and consistent ovulation each month.

This leads me to my next point, which is to know when you ovulate. A typical healthy ovulation will occur mid-cycle, approximately 12- 14 days prior to our next period. We commonly hear about ovulation occurring on day 14 of the cycle. This is typically true if we are one of those women with a 26-28 day cycle. On the other hand, for women with a 32 or 35 day cycle, ovulation may occur closer to day 18 or 20. Once again, the most important thing is that ovulation is consistent and regular for our unique body, and that we are showing signs of healthy ovulation, such as egg white cervical mucus and an increase in desire and resting body temperature.

Once we know exactly when we're ovulating, we want to make sure that we hit our fertile window. Sperm can live for up to three to five days in the body and the egg lives for 12- 24 hours once released. So it's important to make sure that we're babydancing for at least the three days leading up to ovulation, the day of ovulation, and the day after. Since babymaking is a numbers game, our chances of pregnancy are greater over a period of time. And since we only have a few days each month to maximize our chances of getting pregnant, it's important to ensure that we prioritize babymaking above all else during this time each month. This means that we put all demands, responsibilities, and requests that don't require immediate attention aside for just five days during our fertile window. If we are tracking our cycle and have a sense of when ovulation will most likely occur, then we have the opportunity to plan ahead to clear our schedule, and maybe even go on vacation!

The next step is to look at our lifestyle. How is our nutrition? Are we sleeping enough? Are we managing stress in a healthy way? This step goes back to adopting a fertile lifestyle which I discussed in a previous blog post, and incorporating all the principles that encompass it, including removing unwanted elements such as toxic foods, situations, and people. If you have not yet read the post I did on adopting a fertile lifestyle, please see last week's blog post entitled Starting Your Fertility Journey for an in-depth look at how to best do this.

Finally, we want to see our doctor. By now everyone knows that I am a big proponent of having medical diagnostics and evaluations early on in our fertility journey. The reason for this, is that I don't believe in the unnecessary suffering and heartache that comes from not knowing where we stand. This is especially true since, at this point in human evolution, our bodies are only capable of healthy reproduction for a very short and precious time in our lifespan. This is why every woman getting pregnant should have a pap smear, routine lab work that looks at general health, as well as diagnostics for measures of ovarian reserve. Measures of ovarian reserve are essentially measures of our reproductive potential and involve blood tests administered on day three of the cycle to look at specific hormones, as well as examining the ovaries through vaginal ultrasound. A transvaginal ultrasound allows our doctor to determine how our egg supply for the future looks, as well as to determine the health of our ovaries. This is especially beneficial in cases where we are not ovulating or not ovulating regularly. The appearance of the ovaries may give us an understanding of why this is the case.

If we're not having a regular period and/ or regular ovulation, acupuncture and herbs are very effective at helping to restore and regulate the menstrual cycle and hormone function. This is seen consistently in clinical practice, and there is an enormous amount of research in the scientific literature to support the effectiveness of eastern medicine for reproductive health. In addition to being one of the best ways to regulate a cycle without any side effects, receiving acupuncture and herbs allows our acupuncture physician to identify imbalances and individualize treatment that will holistically regulate all body systems. The outcome of this is that we are living in our healthiest body that will make our healthiest baby!

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