I’ve always meant to write about this and share my experiences but life got in the way. I’m going back now to just over six years ago when we first decided to stop using birth control and see what happened. I think the acronym is NTNP (not trying, not preventing) although I’ve never really understood that as if you have sex with the knowledge that it might end in an actual birth, you sort of are trying. I think it’s more a way of not putting too much pressure on yourself if nothing does happen, and you can then keep on kidding yourself that everything’s ok for longer than is helpful or necessary.
In our case, nothing did happen for about a year and so being the paranoid obsessive that I am, I decided to look in incredible detail into what must be wrong. I found a brilliant resource in the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler, which gives a great insight into reproductive health. The understanding it gave me about my own cycles and how they work was worth the reading alone. I was quite honestly stunned by how ignorant I had been before. You can find more on this here.
I began using the information from the book to chart my menstrual cycles. It’s not for everyone as I can imagine some people would see it as a massive faff but I found it helped me immensely. It involved taking my temperature every day before I got up with a basal body temperature (BBT) thermometer. In a ‘normal’ cycle (which is seen as 28 days), day 1 is the start of your period and ovulation occurs around day 14 (your most fertile days are those just preceding this).
I discovered a lot from this. That I had irregular cycles that could vary from 21 to 31 days, but were in the main very short, that my waking temperatures were very low and that although I seemed to ovulate at the correct time, the second half of my cycle after ovulation – called the luteal phase – was too short. It should ideally be about 12-14 days but mine was usually between 7-10 days. This was a key discovery (for me) as a luteal phase defect means that there is a problem with the production of progesterone in the second half of the cycle, and progesterone is key to building the endometrial lining of the womb in order to maintain a healthy pregnancy, and can also affect fertility.
There is some debate about luteal phase defect, mainly because in terms of absolute, 100%, this can not be disproven, certainty, it is difficult to diagnose with a single test, and some doctors don’t believe it is actually a problem.
I can only talk about my particular situation and what I believe, but for me I knew that it was a problem. Now I had to get somebody to listen…