Saturday, December 3, 2011

Secret Post #6: There's An App For That

NOTE: This post is part of a series that I wrote in secret during the months before I announced my pregnancy. The series chronicles my pregnancy journey: from weaning off my RA meds, to trying to conceive, to searching for helpful advice and information, to discovering I was pregnant, to the ups and downs of my first trimester. You can read all the posts in this series here.

This Post Written June 26, 2011

TMI Warning: This post contains details about sex and trying to get pregnant that you may consider to be too much information. Don't say I didn't warn you!

The first step to conceiving a baby is to have sex around the time that you are ovulating (duh!) But did you know that the egg is only ready for fertilization about 12 to 24 hours a month? Luckily, sperm are able to live anywhere from three to six days, so that gives you a slightly bigger window of opportunity. Especially if you are trying to conceive while putting up with the results of untreated RA, it really makes sense to have a good idea of when you ovulate - so that whatever attempts you are able to manage count!

So how do you know when you are ovulating? There are a lot of methods for finding out. Here is an article that gives five methods.

I chose to start by tracking my periods. I started keeping track way back when we first made the decision that I should go off my meds, so by the time it was safe for us to start trying I already had many months of data from which to predict my ovulation. But instead of writing stuff down and doing the calculations myself, I found there was an easier way. That's right - there's an app for that!

The one I am using is called Period Tracker Deluxe. I started with the free version and then paid $1.99 to get more features and get rid of the ads. The icon on my phone is a little flower and says "P Tracker," so it's not quite so obvious what it is, plus you can set it up to have passcode to keep your period data private.

With a tap of the button on the main screen, you indicate when your period starts and when it stops.  From that data, the app calculates the average length of your period and projects when your next one will occur. After entering a few months of data, I found it to be pretty accurate in predicting my period start date (assuming you have regular periods).  Using the same data, the app also predicts which day you ovulate and indicates that you are likely to be fertile for a day or two around it.

You can also keep track of other symptoms like cramps, headaches, heavy flow, etc, and you can indicate on the calendar when you are intimate, which will be useful for determining your baby's due date when you do get pregnant. (Extra TMI Warning!) There's even a section for keeping track of the consistency of your cervical mucus, the position and texture of your cervix, and your basal body temperature - information that can be used for an even more accurate prediction of ovulation. Or, if you use an ovulation predictor kit and know for sure, you can input that information as well.

All in all, I think it's a pretty good app.


Emily said...

TMI sharing on my part, but the metho has made my period super unpredictable. Like I have no idea when I am gonna get it or not. Before you got pregnant, was your more normal? I feel like I'm back in my teen years when I had no idea when I was gonna get it! :(

Stephanie said...

An app? That's hilarious but very useful!

I've never been regular. Ever. That's why basal temp and mucus is my biggest recommendations.

Mirela said...

Reading these posts I feel like I have stumbled upon a goldmine. Thanks again Mariah! Out of curiosity, I tried to map my ovulation in the past. For me, because my periods are irregular, I find that BBT helps (as described in the article). When you were on mtx, did you find that your periods became very irregular? In my case, I find that mtx has also lengthened my cycles...which apparently is not all bad, as you would use less of your egg storage and it would potentially increase your fertile years. Can't wait for the next post!

~Mariah~ said...

EMILY: I never noticed the metho having an effect on my period, but then again I didn't start tracking mine until after I had already stopped taking the metho - so maybe it did and I just don't remember. My period was pretty regular once I was off the metho and started tracking - but even if yours isn't there are other ways to check for ovulation, like basal temp as Stephanie recommends.

STEPHANIE: It was quite useful and it obviously worked for me! But glad to know that other methods work too for girls who are not so regular!

MIRELA: I'm glad you are finding these posts useful! Like I told Emily above, I never noticed the metho having an effect on my period - but I also didn't start tracking until I had already stopped taking it so maybe it did. Since I was regular the tracking method worked for me, but, like Stephanie points out, there are lots of other methods out there for tracking ovulation if you aren't regular (and Stephanie's got four kids so clearly those methods work too!). You can also buy ovulation test kits at the drug store - which we would have done if we had tried a few more months without result.