Being a lesbian means you don’t get to have uninhibited sex and get knocked up. I know you know I had IVF, but do you know what I did to prepare – particularly when we thought we were going to opt for an insemination?
1. I lost all my weight…you know, except the weight that was healthy. Being very overweight may affect fertility, but losing weight definitely does. While you are losing weight your fertility can actually sharply drop. So after I lost all my weight, I maintained the loss for awhile. I can’t remember if 3 or 6 months is the recommended time frame (to allow things to stabilize – and fertility can increase if you enter a healthy weight range and stay put), but I kept it steady for at least a year.
2. I learned all about my fertility. I read books, websites, talked to doctors.
3. I did daily cervical checks (by touch) to learn about my most fertile times, and how my cervix awesomely kept me in the loop.
4. I temped daily with a basal body thermometre….for months. This taught me about when I ovulated every cycle, and how long my luteal phase is. If none of these terms are familiar to you and you’re getting knocked up at home? Learn them.
5. I monitored my cervical fluid daily and learned how it changed throughout the month.
6. I learned how items 3, 4, and 5 work together to clearly signal (usually!) when I am at my most fertile and about to ovulate. And how they confirm I have ovulated.
7. I stopped drinking/eating all forms of caffeine six months before we started ttc. Yes, caffeine lowers your fertility.
8. I started a prenatal vitamin with folic acid six months before we started ttc.
9. I learned about the legal considerations and ramifications of protecting the rights of a two mom family.
These are just the most basic things I did. These are things I would recommend any woman or transman who wants to get pregnant should do. Even if you aren’t trying to make a baby – or if you have a sperm making partner and want to avoid a baby, learning about your body is empowering. And useful.
Two books I think everyone should have on their shelves? The only two books you need?
The New Essential Guide to Lesbian Conception, Pregnancy and Birth by Stephanie Brill. AWESOME. I read dozens of books and this was hands down the best book for talking about how to increase your fertility. It talks about a lot of things that impact it – I recommend this book to all my friends, even the straight/male partnered ones.
Obviously there is a lot that is lesbian-centric (and most didn’t apply to us as we weren’t using a known donor, etc), but the chapters on fertility make this a must read.
Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler. (website here) This is the acknowledged handbook on all things fertility – well, monitoring it! You’ve got your cervix, the fluid coming out of it, your charts, your how to guide to charting and temping. It is glorious. For the life of me, I can’t understand why this book is not on the curriculum for young women. Buy it. Now.
It simply isn’t enough to think you ovulate 14 days after your period starts. No app on your phone or computer can tell you when you are likely to ovulate without as a MINIMUM charting your temp daily (and remember, you need a special theromometre – but it’s cheap. Don’t worry!). There are also fertility scopes (I never used one) and ovulation sticks, but by far the best way to understand fertility is to understand your unique rhythms.
Now, I don’t know what would have happened if I hadn’t taken steps to increase/maintain my fertility. What I do know is that my fertility levels were excellent (tested by blood), I had a good crop of mature and healthy eggs, I got pregnant with twins my first go, and the woman I shared my eggs with got pregnant as well.
Me, 35 weeks pregnant.
It just makes sense to me to understand how your body works, when optimum times for trying to conceive are, and how you can help. I know too many lesbian couples who don’t temp/chart and have cycle after cycle of negative pregnancy tests. I don’t know if I could have coped with that – and charting your fertility is easy and free. You can do it on paper or online (fertility friend is a good site).
I only hope we get such good results the next time around, but I plan to stop caffeine, maintain weight loss (when I get there. Thirteen more pounds to go till I can eggshare, but I’d like to lose at least 28 more.), take prenatal vitamins, and all the other fertility stuff I need to refresh myself on by rereading Ms. Brill’s book.
Please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have questions. I am happy to help.