Know Thyself: Taking Charge Of Your Fertility

Let me begin with a bit of a disclaimer. Fertility is a topic fraught with sensitive emotions and major life impact, and not one that I treat lightly. Personally, I know several people who have struggled with primary and secondary fertility. This subject hits too close to home for those I love to be flippant with it. Today's post is the first of a series on fertility - relevant in many ways for moms and babies. As I am not a doctor, none of my thoughts should be used as medical advice. Please be gracious as I try to approach this topic gently. Fertility: a human phenomenon so complex even doctors don't fully understand how it works.

Taking Charge Of Your Fertility

This is PCOS on the left - and a normal ovary on the right.

About four years ago, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (commonly called PCOS). This condition involves a hormonal imbalance that causes follicles in your ovary to implode before they become mature eggs. These imploding egglets leave behinds cysts that collect on your ovaries like a string of pearls. More importantly, PCOS is the leading cause of infertility in women today. Once I knew that my own fertility could be at risk, I started looking into everything I could find about fertility.

Years before I even wanted to become a mother, our pastor recommended a book - Taking Charge Of Your Fertility - during premarital counseling. This book came up again in my research, since the later editions include entire chapters on fertility conditions and reproductive disorders. Including, of course, PCOS. It seemed daunting - more of a textbook than a helpful guide to my own lady bits. But I added it to my Amazon Prime cart and read it as soon as it came in.

Taking Charge Of Your Fertility: The Starter Pack

While it's lengthy, TCOYF doesn't read like a textbook. I learned things about my system that I didn't know; shocking, since I had done probably 300% more lady-bit-specific research than your average hetero woman prior to reading. Some of the most helpful pieces focused on tracking ovulation or identifying it with biophysical markers. The author, Toni Weschler, created a companion website that allows you to track all of your reproductive symptoms. Tracking alone is helpful in knowing your own body and being able to identify when something is a little out of the ordinary. Once you understand how to track, you can use it to either prevent or promote conception. Like any form of contraception, it's not 100% effective and it is prone to user error. You have to be quite diligent to use this method effectively but it can be done.

Conception: prevent it or make it happen, whichever you prefer.

Look - even your ob-gyn can't tell you exactly why labor starts, or what makes some pregnancies viable when others aren't. So much of our magical mystery box is still just that: a mystery. But that doesn't mean we should ignore our health entirely. Since I possess the parts to build a baby, I ought to be a good steward to them. At the very least, TCOYF gives you a starting ground to learn more about your particular individual circumstance. perhaps it will even help you conceive! Certainly, at the very least, we ought to be telling girls that they are fertile during their cycle. And not just that they care - but when, and how to identify that time.

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