Sunday, 23 October 2016

Three days late

I like to separate the menstrual cycle into 4 parts. The first part is menses and should be fairly consistent from cycle to cycle. After menstruation is the follicular phase where your body prepares for ovulation. The length of the follicular phase can vary from month to month, which is what makes your longer or shorter some months. The follicular phase ends with ovulation, which is followed by the luteal phase. The luteal phase is where implantation would occur, and the length of the luteal phase is consistent from cycle to cycle, so once you confirm that ovulation has occurred you will know when your period will arrive.

There are several ways to track your cycle to know when you’ve ovulated. The book “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” as well as the tutorials for the app Fertility Friend provide a very good explanation of what signs your body gives you that ovulation is approaching. Cervical mucus, cervix position, and ovulation prediction kits can give you an idea that your body is gearing up for ovulation, but the only way to confirm ovulation (besides being monitored by ultrasound) is to track your basel body temperature. After ovulation there is a sustained rise in your basel body temperature, caused by progesterone.

This past cycle I had a positive ovulation test and fertile cervical mucus leading up to cycle day 17, and then my temp rise on cycle day 18, confirming ovulation on cycle day 17. My luteal phase is 10-11 days long so I expected my period on cycle day 27 or 28. I usually have a temperature drop the day my period arrives. Cycle day 27 arrived and no temp drop. Cycle day 28 and no temp drop. Cycle day 29, no temp drop. I took a test on cycle day 29 and it was negative. I was spotting so I was confident that I was not pregnant, but I couldn’t be sure until my period arrived. I was sure of my ovulation date and 3 days late and had a glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, something had finally worked, but no, 4 days after my period was expected it arrived. Cycle 23 now.

Monday, 10 October 2016

The weirdest thing has been happening

I moved to a new city for a new job on August 1. I moved with my cats and without my husband as he was working at his old job until the end of August, so I had just over a month alone with the cats. It meant missing a cycle of trying to get pregnant, but I was iffy on if we should be trying so soon after starting a new job, so I wasn’t too worried about it. The weirdest thing happened that cycle. I ovulated as normal, I had no timing in my fertile week, and I had no bleeding during my luteal phase, just light spotting that I only noticed because I was looking (harder than I’d care to admit) for it. Unexplained luteal phase bleeding is my infertility diagnosis. It’s the reason I’m on cycle 22 and not pregnant. Since I do have a mildly friable cervix (meaning that normal activities can cause some spotting, but not enough to explain my bleeding) I figured part of it was just that I was away from my husband, but that would not be enough to explain the relative lack of bleeding. So, I started to think of all the things that had changed when I moved. There was a huge change in my commute, going from 3-4 hours per day in heavy traffic to less than an hour each way on the bus if I made all my connections. Although I’m still working in the lab, I’m doing different work, so I’m handling different chemicals and no animals. I wasn’t drinking coffee and my diet was a bit different because getting groceries on the bus sucks and my meals weren’t as meat focused without my husband around. And, my husband wasn’t with me. To be honest, I was more than a little worried that my husband was part of the problem because he can (and does) wind me up pretty regularly, which wasn’t happening with us being a part.

When my second cycle in the new city started by husband had moved just in time for my fertile week. All of my stuff arrived a week later so I could finally start having a morning coffee again. That cycle I still had minimal spotting, only noticing because I was looking for it. My commute was even shorter now that I had my car, and it was a lot easier to car share or pick up my husband at work than it was before moving. There was no change in the lab work I was doing. I started drinking coffee and my diet shifted back closer to normal. Thankfully, with my husband back and winding me up the bleeding was still staying away.

This is my third cycle since moving. I still am having no bleeding and minimal spotting during my luteal phase. It’s hard not to be hopeful that I’ll get pregnant, because 21 failed cycles including the failed medicated IUIs suggests the odds are not in my favour, but every time I go to the bathroom and there is no blood there’s a spark of hope that I may be pregnant before my IVF appointment. The logical part of me knows that that isn’t likely because even if, somehow, my infertility problem has gone away, we’re still dealing with male factor infertility.

I’m really left wondering what was causing the bleeding. Was it the commute? Something I was handling in that lab? Was my life in Vancouver making me infertile? Was all the pain and emotional distress I’ve felt these 22 cycles something I had caused myself? If it was the commute or the lab, the odd thing is that while writing my thesis and for the entire month of July I was not commuting or going into the lab and still I was having this bleeding problem. I’ve been trying to research to make sense of it, but I don’t even know what to use as a search term. Commuting causes infertility? Uterine bleeding caused by handling lab mouse?