many of todayís moms, Faith Kirkpatrick waited until she was
in her 30s before she tried to get pregnant. Then she knew her
biological clock was ticking.
a planner," said Kirkpatrick, 34, of New Rochelle, N.Y.
"So once my husband and I made the decision, I wanted to
get pregnant quickly."
help of an ovulation test called Knowhen Saliva Fertility
Monitor, Kirkpatrick was pregnant in two months. "Month
1, we tried, but it didnít work," she said. "Month
2, we tried harder!" Kirkpatrickís daughter, Logan, was
born in November.
"ovulation" dates to the 1700s, but it was
misunderstood for most of human history. Doctors knew the
definition: An egg (ovum) travels from an ovary, down a
fallopian tube, in search of sperm. If a sperm scores a
touchdown, it may grow into a fetus. If not, the uterine
lining sheds and the woman menstruates.
timing of the eggís journey, though, was a mystery. So
incorrect fertility advice came from everyone from Plato (have
sex once a week, he advised) to Aristotle (have sex anytime
during the month but separate slowly afterward, and refrain
in 1946, American physician George Papanicolaou (the Pap smear
inventor) wrote that ovulation occurs two weeks after a womanís
period and can be identified by a fern-like pattern in the
vaginal mucus. His research subjects were his laboratory
guinea pigs and his wife, Mary.
"Day 14" advice still rules, even though timing
varies from one woman to the next. "You may have regular
periods but not ovulate," said Dr. Jane Frederick,
medical director of Newport Beach, Calif.-based HRC Fertility
(orangecountyfertilitydr.com). "Or you may have no
periods, then ovulate."
donít follow rules either. "Theyíre sneaky,"
Frederick said. "They can lie in wait for an egg for 48
to 72 hours."
who is trying to get pregnant is against the clock because her
egg supply decreases monthly.
have the highest number of eggs ó about 6 million ó in
your fifth month in utero," Frederick said. "By
puberty, itís 200,000. Your best eggs are those released in
your 20s. After that, theyíre fewer and feebler."
tests for Frederickís infertility patients include checking
their egg reserves, looking for fallopian-tube blockages and
analyzing their partnersí sperm quality.
can have some control in determining the best time to try. At
home, she can monitor ovulation by catching a temperature
spike with a basal-temperature thermometer or with urine- or
saliva-based ovulation kits. The saliva type is reusable and
indicates a longer window of opportunity. But, Frederick
warned, it measures salt, which is higher among overweight
women, ovulating or not.
women use ovulation kits not only to determine when to get
pregnant but also when they wonít get pregnant, said Helen
Denise, a Newark, N.J., civil engineer who developed Knowhen
after suffering an ectopic pregnancy.
pill makes me nauseous," Kirkpatrick said. "So the
kit helps me use a more natural form of birth control while Iím
trying to avoid pregnancy. Then, when Iím ready to have
another baby, it will help me know which days to try."
science of ovulation is young, so itís no wonder myths
persist. Are the following true or false?
ovulate after being on the pill. False. In fact, Frederick
said, the pill can help regulate your irregular cycle before
you try to get pregnant.
cough syrup triggers ovulation. False, but if it contains
alcohol, it may loosen inhibitions.
breasts or abdominal cramping signal ovulation. It depends.
Many women feel no signals.
prevents ovulation. False. Witness all the siblings born nine
overweight or underweight affects ovulation. True.
semen increases fertility. False. "Your reproductive
plumbing is at the other end!" Frederick said.
causes pregnancy. False. "You can adopt a child and get
pregnant the same year, but one doesnít cause the
other," Frederick said.
sex can reduce fertility. True. For best results, give the
sperm a chance to regenerate.
a new partner can alter your cycle. True.