I still have a few more pre-TTC posts in my pocket, but now that we’re officially “makin’ babies,” I’ve got a whole host of new things buzzing around in my brain. This week’s issue: To chart/use OPKs or not?
When baby fever hits, your ovulation date becomes almost as important as your anniversary date. In fact the whole meaning of “O” changes. In all seriousness, someone was recently talking about “O faces” and my first thought was, “How do you even know what your face looks like when you ovulate?” Face meet palm. I remember when “O” meant something entirely different!
Anywho, around the ol’ Hive, it seems that charting and/or using Ovulation Predictor Kits (OPKs) are the most popular approach to TTC. OPKs give you a heads up that the Big O is on its way. Charting on the other hand, won’t indicate that ovulation is about to occur, but confirms after the fact that Meggy the Eggy did indeed make an appearance. It also helps you learn your body’s patterns so you can predict when you will likely ovulate and the length of your Luteal Phase (LP-between ovulation and when Diablo shows up). Charting just involves taking your Basal Body Temperature (BBT) and recording it on an app, like Fertility Friend. Both charting and OPKs are great tools and can certainly help women have a better chance of conception because it stacks the odds in your favor that you’re getting busy at the right times. I spent several months charting in preparation for TTC. I actually really enjoyed knowing what my body was doing and having “proof” that I was at least ovulating and my LP was about average.
After that paragraph, what would possibly be the case for not using one of these tools?
As much as I learned while charting, Mr. Blue and I made a conscious decision to stop charting before we started TTC for several reasons.
1. Less Stress
I fully admit that I’m a bit Type A, a bit control freak. As much as I enjoyed charting it sent me straight to cray cray town, and I know from reading the boards here and on various websites, that I’m not the only one that lets charting/OPKs suddenly become all consuming. Let me give you a peek into the inner workings of my brain while charting:
Cycle Day (CD) 9 – Too soon for O. Wonder if my temp has been consistent enough for an accurate baseline. Is my baseline oto low? Is that normal? Is something wrong with me?
CD 10 – I got up at 2 a.m. to go to the restroom. That’s probably what made my temp so low today.
CD 11 – Ahhh…it’s 4 a.m. and I have to go to the bathroom. Should I just take my temp now? Should I take at 6:30? I know that’s not officially enough sleep before temping. Hmmmm…maybe I’ll just take it now and use a BBT adjuster.
CD 12 – Nothing that looks like ovulation yet.
CD 13 – My temp went up .2 degrees. Could that be ovulation? It’s not as high as FF looks for to confirm ovulation, but…maybe I’ll just google and see what’s the lowest rise that can still indicate O.
CD 14 – Yes!!!!! I definitely ovulated! My temp shot up!
CD 15 – Temp went up just a bit more. I should get crosshairs soon. Definitely ovulation!
CD 16 – What??!?! Why did my temp just drop .6???? Did I not O? Is this a fluke? I need to google 3 DPO dips and see what this means. Surely it wouldn’t be an implantation dip this early.
Long story short, I analyze every tiny temperature rise or fall and get so uptight both waiting for ovulation and then watching every temp rise and fall after the Big O. Keep in mind, this was happening before I was even trying to get pregnant!
For me, I’m much more relaxed and stress free if I’m not charting. The control freak in me hates not knowing exactly when I ovulate, but overall I feel better. I’m hoping that my two-week wait(s) will be less agonizing if I can’t analyze every temp to try and guess if I’m pregnant. I know that “relaxing” won’t make me suddenly get pregnant, but I feel like it will make the process much more enjoyable!
2. I have a predictable cycle.
One of the best things about charting or using OPKs is they give you lots of information. They can help you determine that you’re not ovulating at all, that your luteal phase is really short, or that your ovulation date isn’t predictable, in addition to a host of other things. In the Baby Making phase, I place a high value on information about my body and what it is doing. Charting confirmed to me that my cycle is pretty textbook. It’s 27-29 days. I have always ovulated between CD 12-13. My luteal phase is consistently 14 days. Now that I have that information and know that my body seems to be pretty predictable, charting and using OPKs doesn’t seem quite as critical for me to utilize. It’s easy for me to get caught up in all the talk about charting and OPKs and feel like I’ll never get pregnant if I don’t do one or the other. But, that’s just not the case. Even if it takes a few months, the chances are that I’ll still get pregnant within the average length of time it takes to conceive, charting/OPKing or not.
3. A More Spontaneous Sex Life
I’m in no way saying that charting or OPKs will ruin my sex life, but I know I would be more likely to “demand” sex at a certain time if I absolutely knew when I was ovulating. I really believe that not knowing exactly when I will ovulate will help keep our sex life a little less calculated and unromantic. Instead of feeling like I need to focus on having sex for one five day period to make a baby, I’m more inclined to have no-pressure sex more often throughout the middle couple weeks of my cycle to make sure our bases are covered. Works for me! :)
I absolutely think charting and/or using OPKs is a great choice, but in my experience they can definitely add some stress that isn’t always necessary. If we don’t get pregnant by September, I’ll consider charting again or using OPKs. For now, however, I’m mostly really content to just have fun with Mr. Blue and hope for the best.
Did you chart, use OPKs, both, or neither?
Preparing to TTC part 6 of 81. Preparing to TTC by Checklists
2. My Pre-TTC Toolkit by Mrs. Blue
3. My Preconception Toolkit by Mrs. Tricycle
4. Charting Fertility by mrs. green
5. Clear Blue Easy Fertility Monitor by Mrs. Bee
6. The Case for Not Charting or Using OPKs by Mrs. Blue
7. Starting our TTC Journey: Screening for Jewish Genetic Disorders by Mrs. Confetti
8. TTC, Pregnancy & Parenting Acronyms by Checklists