Clear Blue Digital · OPKs · Ovulation Predictor Kits · Trying to Conceive

Your OPKs and You: Part Deux

Previously on Unintentionally Not Conceiving: yours truly was drooling over smilies on digital OPKs and boasting about my stick aim (humble brag).  During Month 7, I wanted to update my TTC Resume with some “internet cheapies” experience (fitting since I’m a cheapie woman, which I now realized is probably something I shouldn’t refer to myself as).  Internet cheapies is a generic name for the basic ovulation test strips that you usually find on Amazon – at least, that’s what I use to stock up on most of my TTC necessities (#notanad, I just love to name drop).  These are usually dip-strips, and they follow the “if the test line is as dark or darker than the control line, IT’S GAME TIME!” rule.  

I had planned to avoid the pee-in-a-cup club considering my schedule was already filled with enough extracurriculars (member of POASA , Ectopic Social Chair, constantly being consumed by own anxiety, etc.), but the possibility of finding my new favorite CHEAP tests was too good to pass up.  I went with the easy@home brand because I’d seen that enough women use that brand without any problems AND I was able to get a box that included pregnancy and progesterone tests – combo pack, YEAH!  I had already tried out one OPK and HPT during the Ectopic Time, both of which produced positive results and caused me to find out I was supposedly around 7 weeks along with Little Sac, so had a smidgen of faith in them.  Still, I thought of my plain OPK strips the same way that I feel about my Xanax – nice to know it’s available, prooobably not going to use it unless I really have to.  And yet – didn’t really have to use them, but joined the club anyway because it’s not a true TTC month unless I’m trying something new!

I’ve found the instructions for all OPKs to be pretty straight forward, including when it comes to determining when you should start testing.  This time around, I decided to ignore the instructions (poor choice) and started testing earlier since I had an (incorrect) theory that I was ovulating early ever since my body decided to betray me.  Per usual, my theory was pure nonsense, and instead of catching an earlier than expected surge, I freaked myself out and entered “AM I NOT EVEN OVULATING?!” mode.  Cue more searches on progression lines.  

Fun little fact: the picture below is included on Amazon for the easy@home Product Overview.  

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Are you REALLY trying to tell me that this chick got her Big Fat Positive on 5DPO?!  With a cheapie?!  I’m in the process of penning a letter of complaint to the company for false advertising.  “Excuse me but…no way in hell is this a BFP at 5DPO, AND I did not get pregnant with the use of these strips* so I would like for you to cover all of my potential future fertility treatments.  Please and thank you.”

*Disclaimer: The use of OPKS does not guarantee pregnancy.  They should be used only to detect a surge in your Luteinizing Hormone which increases around the time of ovulation.  If you want to confirm ovulation, you will need to track your BBT or test your progesterone levels 7 days after you get a positive OPK.  If you want to get pregnant, you will need to find a different blog to assist you with that, as I have not found a magical way to make this happen.

Anywho.  Beyond testing too early, I began to wonder if I was also testing at the wrong time, or if I didn’t have a long enough “hold”.  All things that caused the little voice inside my head to repeatedly tell me that I was going to miss my surge, I was never going to get pregnant, and it was all going to be because I just HAD to give in to my frugal side.  Enter: testing twice a day.  

You know how sometimes you think to yourself, “I’m simply not peeing on enough sticks throughout the day”?  That was where I was at.  I already nailed down my process of digital testing during the day – the worst part being trying to sneak an applicator into the bathroom, but the whole urine-harvesting with the dip strips was really throwing me off.  Before I started wasting my digitals on double testing, I tried to come up with ways that I could use the strips during the day without heading to the bathroom with a Dixie cup in hand.  A purse would be the obvious solution (which now makes me wonder how many women who bring their purses to the bathroom are stashing cups and ovulation strips in there), but that’s just not me, and I wanted to keep what I thought was my dignity in tact.  Dignity means secretive which equals digitals up my sleeve during the day (hey, it works!) and a cup o’ pee in the evening.

Getting an empty circle in the morning and a light line in the evening didn’t ease my mind (though, to be fair, not much does), BUT I have a little trick up my sleeve (no, it’s not another applicator hiding up there):  there’s an aaapp for thaaat!  There’s an easy@home app where you can upload pictures of your ovulation strips and it’ll tell you if it’s a low, high, or peak result!  I don’t see any reason why you would need to use those specific strips with the app, it should be able to read any of the internet cheapies out there, but I felt more confident in the fact that I was using THE strips for THE app.  Plus, by uploading pictures of your tests you avoid the OPK scrapbook!  (Okay…I kept the scrapbook too!  Who knew the warm and fuzzies you could get from looking back at your line progression taped up all nice-like?!)  Looking at my taped up tests, it’s pretty obvious when I was getting close to the peak, and the peak itself was unmistakable, but with being new to the strips it’s easy to wonder what it should look like when you’re about to get your surge.  Everyone’s progressions look different though (per usual).  I’ve seen some women who have DAYS of positives, or others (like me) who shoot up to peak and then right back down (I count my first ‘low’ result as the day I ovulated, which is what the app says to go with).  Check out my comparison pics below!

The best part of all this: I got triple confirmation on peak day!!  I easily recognized the positive on the strip (yes, I am counting my own eyes as one form of confirmation), my app screamed “peak!” and (my favorite part of all) my digital gave me my smiley!  Since it was a Saturday, I was able to test with my strips and digital at the same time, so I do wonder if my strip peak would’ve looked different in the evening, but that didn’t matter at the time.  Instead, I bounced out of the bathroom while waving my tests in my husband’s face saying, “LOOK AT THESE LIIIIIIINES!”

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Per my last post on OPKs (and their instructions), you’re really not supposed to look at the lines on the digitals, but that’s like not looking in your tissue when you blow your nose (no? just me? I want to make sure it’s not an infection, guys!)  I’ve always noticed the lines getting more prominent when I’m near my peak on the digitals, but I’ve never gotten such beautiful strong blue lines!  Course, not wanting to divert from my usual schedule, that did not result in a pregnancy, BUT – the lines!!!!   

Here’s where I’m at on the cheapies vs. digital debate: If you’re going to use the digitals, just use the digitals!  I’ve now tried out both versions of the Clearblue digital tests and confirmed with cheapies that everything lines up.  If you want to save money and don’t mind dipping or (potentially) confusing lines, go with the cheapies!  OR – go with the cheapies and the app combo!  You can even find cheaper midstream tests where you don’t have to dip or pay the premium for digital results, but I won’t be trying those out – I am doooone with ovulation test experiments, I swear!  If price doesn’t matter, I would always use the Clearblue digital advanced just for the added perk of FMU (first morning urine) and it also lines up with your “Fertile Week” if you’re not using an app to help you track those days (I have read reviews where women get too many ‘high’ days, but that wasn’t part of my experience).

OPKs don’t have to add to the confusion and frustration that is TTC – find what works best for you and stick with it (and be sure to follow the instructions, they’re there for a reason)!  

OPKs · Ovulation Predictor Kits · Pineapple Core · Trying to Conceive · TTC

My TTC Arsenal: I’M BACK!

Oh.My.GOODNESS!  I had no intention of going almost an entire month without posting, but my anxiety has manifested itself into a tension headache that has lasted for nearly four weeks now.  Before you think I’m ignoring something serious again – I’ve been to the doctor, TWICE!  Once, I was given a large dose of Ibuprofen to “kill” the headache, which only felt like it was killing my stomach (I still believe it left me with a lovely little ulcer), and the second time I was told to get my eyes checked and to “avoid looking at screens”.  So…no texting, no e-reader, no Teen Mom, no blogging!  (Because we’re just going to ignore the mac daddy of all screen time: WORK!)  I wasn’t given a doctor’s note stating that I needed three weeks of PTO due to my headaches and reduced screen time, so I continued on with texting and reading on my Kindle and finishing the newest season of Teen Mom 2, and I cut out the extra stare-at-your-screen work of writing.  I did get my eyes checked and they claim I need a pair of low prescription glasses (I am quite skeptical about how they figured that out just by asking me if 1 or 2 was better for thirty minutes.  Just because one is slightly sharper than the other shouldn’t necessarily mean I need glasses, where’s the control group of my own (old?) 20/20 in this?!), but I won’t see my glasses until sometime in December, and I’m not totally sure slightly poor vision would cause my temples to burn for weeks on end.  Husband thinks the headaches are caused by black mold in our apartment, I think it’s just anxiety (and Dr. Google told me that there’s an antidepressant out there that can get rid of chronic tension headaches – why I have not been given this yet?!), but knowing our luck – we’ll both be wrong and it’ll be bot flies.  Lord help me if it’s BOT FLIES!  

Anyway, I’m trying my hardest to pretend that I’m making up the restless legs, shortness of breath, and dizziness that I’ve noticed sporadically throughout the month, and focus on more important matters: TWELVE WEEKS!  Phew, that wasn’t so bad!  

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With lefty being on deck this month (or maybe not, I don’t really know if that’s how this is working, please don’t punish my ignorance with another ectopic!) I wanted to pull out all of the tricks.  Not trying to put all my eggs in one basket (literally…), and I’m sure righty deserves a chance to redeem itself, but just saying that I wouldn’t be upset if we turned into first-triers this time around (knock on wood, salt over shoulder, other things that cause jinxing to not occur).  I decided to risk it and use the same itinerary as I had the month we conceived, regardless of that outcome.  So, either I could’ve figured out what works for us, or I could be in possession of the recipe for ectopics.  Guess we’ll find out, eh?!  Below is my trusty-but-terrifying (and very TMI) combo:

  • SMEP: If you enjoy timing everything out to a T then the SMEP is for you!  It stands for: Sperm Meets Egg Plan and is supposed to be a “proven technique” for ensuring that…well, the S has all the possible opportunities to meet with the E.  Hence the name.  A fairly simple process, you BD (baby dance) or DTD (do the deed) or BMS (basic married sex) every other day starting on CD 8, and then once you get a positive OPK, you up it to three days in a row, take a day off (THANK GOD), and then have super planned baby dancing one more day until you can go back to your normal lives.  I’ve read lots of great reviews on successful pregnancies using this method, but obviously we never really know what works when we finally get a BFP.
  • Pre-Seed: I’ve heard mixed reviews on the sperm-friendly lube (bleh), but it “helped” us that dreaded month so it’s back on the table!  If you’ve been in the TTC world long enough, you’ve probably heard about the miracle that is Pre-Seed.  If you’re new – it’s supposed to mimic your own fluids and assist the little guys in their journey upwards.  Less is more when it comes to how much to use – most women use under the recommended dosage, so follow instructions at your own risk (unless you’re really, really into water parks)!  They don’t provide you with nearly enough of the applicators and you’ll probably find yourself with half a tube left, which you can use for external use going forward if you don’t want to feel wasteful.  (Some women even “sterilize” the applicators in boiling water so that they can reuse them but I just….I just can’t bring myself to take things quite that far.)

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  • Pineapple Core: Truthfully?  I wondered if this is what caused my whole debacle to begin with, but considering there are lots of women that try this and don’t end up with an ectopic pregnancy, and after being told by my sister that my whole situation was “just one of the mysteries of life, and not caused by a pineapple” I had to wipe that from my mind.  I already did a whole thing about pineapple core in this post, so check it out if you haven’t already, and get implanting!  (Note: this round, I did learn that using a bread knife makes it a lot easier to cut through the skin of the pineapple!  My husband’s idea, of course.)

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  • FertilAid – This is a touchy subject for me, only because I feel like I’m calling out my husband, but I’m not!  This became a part of our TTC regime once Month 3 was unsuccessful (let that sink in for a second – MONTH. THREE.)  We didn’t do any sort of testing to make us decide to introduce FertilAid into our lives, just figured “the more the merrier!” and brought the pills on board.  The bottles (should) do exactly what they say – increase count and motility.  I’ve read stories where men used this after poor analysis results, and after a few months their numbers vastly improved, so that was reason enough for me.  Why wait twelve months to find out that all you needed was a couple of pills a day?  I’ve had my husband go through the ingredients numerous times to make sure there wasn’t anything funky in there, so we’re both comfortable with our decision.  I just can’t quite fully endorse this only because I don’t know what his levels were to begin with.

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  • Ovulation Predictor Kits – I wasn’t going to mention this one because I felt like it was too obvious, but just in case you wondered: YES, I’m still using these!  Especially because I lost my mind the past few months since I didn’t know exactly what was going on (but, do I ever???).  Knowing when your surge is (and estimated ovulation – unless you’re temping, then you’re lucky enough to have CONFIRMED ovulation!) matters for several of these items: SMEP, Pineapple Core, best days to utilize Pre-Seed, and for your basic sanity of seeing a positive somewhere!  A friend of mine keeps insisting that my OPKS are causing me unnecessary stress, and I’ll agree that almost every month there’s a moment when I think a positive isn’t going to happen and I enter panic mode, but getting that confirmation calms me and helps me to better understand each cycle.  

Where do we find all these goodies?  Amazon.  Or, Walgreens if I’m feeling particularly panicked about low levels of anything.  All of these items are pretty pricey (at least, according to my standards), but I can’t bring myself to remove any of them from our monthly routine just yet.  I should mention that raspberry tea has been sitting in my pantry for months now, but I honestly can’t figure out how/when exactly I’m supposed to use that.  Most of my searches result in pregnant women asking if it’ll jump start labor, while I’m over here like, “MUST BE NICE!”.  So, maybe that’ll make it’s way into my kit soon.  What’s a must-have in your TTC routine?!

Clear Blue Digital · OPKs · Ovulation Predictor Kits · Trying to Conceive · TTC

Your OPKs and You

When I met with my doctor for my preconception appointment (something that I had hoped would have been comparable to an experience with a psychic rather than a physician, “Here’s all my money, when am I going to get pregnant?!”), she basically told me I could go with two options: take on the “whatever happens, happens” approach for the first time in my life, or start using OPKs to figure out when I’ll be most likely to conceive.  Once we both had a good laugh over the thought of me actually going with the flow (pun very much intended) she recommended that I use the digital ovulation tests, and I never looked back.   

I use the Clearblue Digital OPKS – and yes to all you women hissing and booing  – I know, I use blue dye.  

I take the blue risk so that I can see a smiley face once a month – I need a little pick me up during these dark days.  I’m also not interested in joining in on the experience of making a scrapbook (titled my Wondfol Journey) of daily ovulation strips and comparing them until I go cross eyed to figure out which day was correct.  I get anxiety just seeing other women posting, “Is this my peak? What day did I ovulate? Am I pregnant?” and I’m over here like giiiirl I don’t know, but now we’re both stressed out.  The instructions may seem confusing if you’re not familiar with cycle days, and you’re kind of going in blind guessing on dates if you start right after stopping birth control (CD10 is recommended!), but it’s a huge improvement from comparing the color of two lines on a strip (says the woman who has never tried that herself).

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Here’s a few things I’ve learned after six  months gone digital:

  1. Peeing on sticks is, apparently, a hidden talent of mine.
  2. Trying to hide an applicator and test in the sleeve of your sweater, or waistband of your jeggings, as you walk to the bathroom at work is even more awkward than it sounds.
  3. Three minutes feels like a very, very long time to be sitting in a public bathroom stall (especially when all you’re doing is staring at a stick).
  4. A smiley is exciting for two reasons: one being that you are officially ovulating (get it girl!) and the second being that you can stop testing and SAVE THE REST OF YOUR STICKS FOR THE NEXT MONTH – two month supply turned five month supply over here!
  5. If someone tells me not to pee for four hours, all I’m going to think about for the next four hours is how badly I have to pee.

Believe it or not, but timed urination (bleh) is even less fun than timed sex – and this is coming from a girl who lists “making schedules” as one of her hobbies. There is one major game changer that comes with the advanced version of these OPKS (contrary to the negative reviews): F.M.U.  HALLELUJAH!  These tests were the upgrade that I didn’t even know I needed!  I failed at trying to turn a one month supply into two, so they’re not as wallet-friendly as the pink version, but again: we’re talking about FMU people!  Obviously, the only real con I have with these OPKs are that they’re expensive and I’m what my friends politely refer to as “frugal”, but I’ve found a way to beat the system by only testing a day or two before I’m expecting my smiley to show up (WARNING: only works with the basic digital version!).  Also, I personally don’t recommend these OPKs for anyone who wants to test multiple times a day (just from a dollar perspective), and I don’t believe they work for PCOS, but (especially for you newbies out there) I can’t help but love something that’s actually straight-forward during this process!  

Okay.  I suppose my one other con is that I’m not pregnant yet…and I need something to blame for that….