trying to conceive


Trying to Conceive? Knowing When You Ovulate

Are you trying to conceive? It helps knowing when you ovulate so that your chances of getting pregnant are increased.

Your body usually releases one egg each month in a process called ovulation, and needs to be fertilized soon after. To boost your chances, it helps to know your body and when you’re ovulating. Then you’ll know when you and your partner should be having all the sex!

Here are some ways of knowing when you ovulate.

Know your cycle

Keep a menstrual calendar for a few months so you can get an idea of what’s normal for you. Find a ovulation calendar tool online to help. If your menstrual cycle lasts 28 days and your period arrives like clockwork, it’s likely that you’ll ovulate on day 14.

Check your calendar

Now that you know when you will likely ovulate, you can plan when to have sex. Your fertile window begins on day 10, so plan to have sex between days 10 and 14 of a 28-day cycle. Sperm can survive for a few days inside your body, so it’s ideal to have them already there waiting for your egg.

Trying to Conceive? Knowing When You Ovulate

Chart your temperature

As your hormone levels change throughout your menstrual cycle, watch for signs of body changes. During the first half of your cycle, your ovaries give off the hormone estrogen and when your estrogen levels are high, your ovary releases an egg. After the release of the egg, your body starts to produce the hormone progesterone which causes body temperature to rise slightly.

If you track your temperature every day before you get out of bed, your basal body temperature, you may notice a pattern that shows when you ovulate. Taken with a special thermometer, your BBT is the baseline reading you get first thing in the morning

Track your fluids

Your hormones also change the texture of your cervical mucus, the sticky fluid that comes from your cervix. As your body gets ready to ovulate, you will notice more of this stretchy and slippery fluid. When your mucus feels like this, you are within your fertile window.

Ovulation predictor kits

Ovulation predictor kits like the First Response® Digital Ovulation Test are able to pinpoint your date of ovulation in advance by looking at levels of luteinizing hormone, or LH, which is the last of the hormones to hit its peak before ovulation actually occurs. The kits,  which checks your urine, have enough test strips to let you check your LH levels several times during your menstrual cycle. Start testing a few days before you think you might ovulate, then repeat a few times over the next few days to pinpoint the exact day. When your LH levels are highest, you’re in the fertile window. Your two most fertile days begin with the LH surge and you are most likely to get pregnant if you have intercourse within 24-36 hours after you detect your personal LH surge.

Twinges of pain

It’s possible to feel yourself ovulate – in fact 20 percent of women do! Your body will send you a memo when it’s ovulating in the form of a twinge of pain or a series of cramps in your lower abdominal area, usually on one side.

Ask your doctor

Some women don’t ovulate on a set schedule, so if you’re having trouble realizing when you ovulate, ask your doctor for help.



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Embryo Adoption Solution to Couples Trying to Conceive?

Elizabeth and Marty wanted to have another baby of their own, but struggled with conception. Elizabeth says she and her husband “were late to the game of parenthood.”

“We met and married in our mid 30s and never felt rushed to start a family. I was 38 when we decided we’d try to have a child.”

“By age 41 we were trying for a second child, which is when we realized we had problems. I had low egg quantity and low egg quality, and we were given very little chance to conceive. I had an unending desire to bring another child into our home as well as be pregnant again, but using an egg donor wasn’t for us.”

Their doctor recommended the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption program, which matches embryo donors with couples desperate to start a family.

Elizabeth and Marty jumped at the chance to adopt an embryo. Within two months, Elizabeth was pregnant at 39.

The embryo transferred to Elizabeth had been frozen for 17 years! And on June 3, 2016, Marley Jade was born.

Marley Jade’s biological parents (who are unnamed) had unused embryos that they decided to freeze 17 years ago, rather than having them destroyed. They later then donated the embryos to the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption program.

Today, Marley is a healthy girl, and her parents are thrilled to share their embryo adoption journey with other couples going through infertility issues.

But the embryo adoption process raises many ethical questions. Is it ethical to save and freeze embryos that other people can use in the future? Should any embryo be frozen for this amount of time, and is it safe?

The idea that embryos are frozen for over 17 years is a little concerning. While helping people have babies is ethically commendable, there is something very odd about using the term of “adoption” towards embryos. Children get adopted, but … embryos?

On the one hand, I can see embryo adoption as being a beautiful experience for parents who can’t conceive to go through a pregnancy on their own, and give birth to a child who has different biological parents.

But on the other hand, it’s strange to think that a frozen embryo could be thawed and then implanted into someone else. It’s a little Twilight Zone for me, and could be worrisome. How much should science be involved in “creating” children?

A commenter on Babycenter says: “Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. Imagine growing up knowing your parents had you created, then left you in a freezer for 18 years because they got their wanted baby. “

Elizabeth and Marty spoke to BabyCenter about their experience.

“Our first and only match came four months after we entered that phase of the process. Then came contracts, then getting the embryos to us and the preparations for transfer. The process from paperwork gathering to embryos being in our possession took 17-18 months,” they said.

The couple did not have information about the sex of the baby, and didn’t pursue to find out. “We let the doctor lead the way on selecting embryos to thaw and handling all the details leading up to the transfer.

“I remember the day of transfer was very exciting, but I remember also being very nervous, so nervous I was actually shaking. There was so much running through my head the day of the transfer — the hopes of finally getting a positive pregnancy test, the idea of disappointment if the embryo didn’t implant in my uterus, the excitement that our long awaited for baby could actually be in our arms in 9 months.

So many thoughts were running through my head. I also remember giving it all to God, which I had done months and months earlier in this process, but I had another round of it leading up to the transfer. I knew I had done absolutely everything I could to prepare for successful transfer and pregnancy. Realizing that anything can happen, I, at least, prepped myself for the best possible chance of achieving our dreams.

“As we hold our snowflake baby and look back on everything we did to achieve this dream, we see a pathway of peaks and valleys, persistence, hard work, and dreaming. We never gave up and kept the dream alive. It was worth every minute of the time we put in, and we could not imagine expanding our family any other way. Marley is as much a part of our family as our first born biological daughter.

The surprising part is that Elizabeth and Marty do know the biological parents.

“We have not met the donating family in person, but we love them and think about them just about every day. Our agreement is that we’ll exchange letters (emails and cards) and pictures once per year at a minimum. Both sides have already exceeded that. We’ve also agreed that if the children on either side want to meet down the road, we’d be open to that idea and help guide the process.”

When asked whether the couple has plans to use another embryo, they said they haven’t yet decided but they do have three embryos remaining.

“For families considering donating their embryos, you will help another couple realize their dreams of starting or expanding their family. Snowflakes is a wonderful option to consider because the embryos are already created and waiting.

Elizabeth and Marty’s doctor was not concerned about the length of time the embryos were frozen because the egg donor that the genetic family selected was young, and the mother was in good health.

“Marley is perfect in every way. Marley was created and saved for us before my husband and I even met, and before I even knew I would want children one day. It shows God has the perfect plan.”

But is it God’s plan, or should Elizabeth be thanking science?





Trying to Conceive: National Infertility Awareness Week

Starting a family and having children is a precious gift, one many of us take for granted. Many couples think they can start having kids just like that – but the harsh reality is that conceiving a child does not always come easy.

Most couples who are trying to conceive will become pregnant within a year. For others it can take longer.  In Canada, the incidence of fertility issues have risen in the past several decades, with one in six Canadian couples now experiencing fertility-related problems.

What is supposed to be an exciting and happy time in one’s life can become a significant source of stress and pressure for the couples that experience challenges along the way. If it’s taking longer than you expected to conceive, it’s always a good idea to speak to your doctor about what you should be doing to improve your chances of conceiving. Ontario, along with Quebec, Manitoba and New Brunswick, now offers some form of financial assistance for in-vitro fertilization to couples.

National Infertility Awareness Week is May 12 to 20. Dr. David Greenberg, Family Physician at St. Joseph Hospital, has some tips to help start the family planning.

Don’t “try”

For couples “trying” to conceive, every month can be filled with anxiety and worry. Heightened stress can actually cause more challenges. Therefore, it’s important to live in the moment and just enjoy your partner. Have sex every other day during the fertile window. One study found that intercourse is most likely to result in a pregnancy when it occurs two days before ovulation.

It’s not your fault

There are many reasons why conceiving a baby may be difficult, but it’s not anyone’s fault. Blaming yourself or your partner won’t fix anything and may lead to more problems, including tension in your relationship. Find ways to relax both body and mind, whether by exercising, taking deep breaths, listening to music or doing yoga.

Live healthy

Don’t wait until you find out you’re expecting to start making changes to your diet or exercise routine. Once you decide to start trying to conceive, start behaving like you’re already pregnant by eating right, taking prenatal vitamins, avoiding alcohol, stop smoking  and exercising sensibly. Getting too much exercise or doing frequent strenuous workouts could interfere with ovulation.

Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, dairy and healthy sources of fat. Also, go easy on the caffeine: consuming more than 500 milligrams of caffeine a day has been linked with a decrease in fertility in women.

Research has shown that a woman who is overweight (her Body Mass Index, or BMI, is greater than 35) can take twice as long to become pregnant as a woman whose BMI is considered normal. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges women to take 400 mcg of folic acid every day for at least one month before getting pregnant to help prevent birth defects.

Track your cycle

Improve your odds of conceiving by having sex on the days when conception is likeliest to happen. Every woman’s body is unique and, when trying to become pregnant, your individual cycle should be taken into consideration. Use an Ovulation Calculator to help you determine your cycle.

The First Response™ Digital Ovulation Test detects and tracks your personal daily baseline levels of luteinizing hormone (LH) to detect your personal LH surge, unlike other ovulation tests that use a pre-set “average” level to determine an LH surge.

Trying to Conceive: National Infertility Awareness Week

Know when to see an expert

A woman and man should consider having an infertility evaluation if the woman is 35 or older and has not become pregnant after six months of having sex regularly without using birth control.  A woman who is under 35 and her partner should consult a fertility specialist if she has failed to become pregnant after one year of having unprotected intercourse on a regular basis.

For those who know someone trying to conceive, the most important thing is to be supportive and understanding. It’s important to consult your doctor to find the best steps for you.


Visit Infertility Awareness Association of Canada for more information on fertility services, clinics, support groups and more.

Fertility Matters Canada is the national patient charity that provides education, support and assistance to individuals and couples who are struggling to build their families


New At Home Conception Aid for Couples Trying to Conceive

In 1990, 1 in 10 couples were having trouble conceiving. Those numbers are rising. Today 1 in 6 Canadian couples are having a hard time conceiving! It’s possible that you or someone you know has had fertility issues. That’s a startling number!

What has changed?

Rising fertility issues are related to environmental and lifestyle factors. Forty percent of diagnoses are attributed to the male, 40% to the female and 20% are diagnosed as unexplained. For men, estrogen levels are higher than ever before resulting in low sperm counts, motility and morphology issues while female factors include imbalanced vaginal pH, diminishing ovarian reserve, PCOS, endometriosis, etc.

Women are also trying to conceive later in life; the chances drop from 25 for women aged 20-25 to 5% chance per month of conceiving for women aged 40. There are limited options available for those initially struggling and treatments today are slow, invasive and costly.

I haven’t gone through infertility issues but I know many who have which is why I’m happy to share some information about a new product for couples trying to conceive.

The Stork by Rinovum Womens Health was created to help couples become pregnant from the privacy of their own home with their unique cervical cap insemination product. Physicians have used cervical cap insemination as a treatment for infertility since the 1950’s. The Stork allows for you to use this same process as an at home fertility treatment and at home conception aid.

CEO and Founder of The Stork, Steve Bollinger, says the best time to use The Stork when sex is no longer for fun but to just for trying to conceive! The product is a condom-like collection in a tampon like delivery system.

The Stork is drug free, latex free, doesn’t require injections or surgery, easy to use, it has three steps and is, cost-effective. This at home conception aid can be done in the privacy of your own home and puts the control in the hands of the couple.

How does it work?

A cervical cap in a condom-like silicone sheath is used to collect semen into a cervical cap and then placed near the cervix os for 4-6 where it can then enter and travel through the uterus to the fallopian tubes where fertilization occurs.

There are three steps to using The Stork. First, the male will put on a condom-like sheath. This is the Conceptacle which is used to collect and contain the semen during intercourse. The Conceptacle consists of a cervical cap that is inside of a condom-like sheath made out of silicone. The male will put this on for intercourse.

Once the semen is collected, the condom-like sheath of the Conceptacle is rolled down and off of the cervical cap that is inside at the bottom of the Conceptacle, much like rolling a condom off.

Then, the cervical cap is placed onto the included Applicator that cradles the cap, compressing it for ease of tracking into the vagina to the opening of the cervical os. The cervical cap allows the semen to stay close to the region that it needs to be near to swim up through to get to the egg. The female will keep the cap for 4-6 hours, and then remove by pulling the string, much like a tampon.

Here is a video to show how The Stork works.

at home ferlility treatment

The Stork is FDA approved and also approved in Canada where it’s newly available this month. The Stork is a very affordable for couples trying to conceive and are looking to try at home fertility treatments and at home conception aids, compared to the costs of intrauterine inseminations (IUI), in vitro fertilization (IVF) and other assisted reproductive technologies. The Stork is available to purchase from Amazon.ca for a cost of $126.99.

The Stork recommends that you use it no more than three times per month. If after six months you haven’t been successful, please go see your physician to discuss more aggressive treatment options.

Do you know couples who have had fertility issues?

The Stork Missed My House: An Infertility Journey

by Christine Stewart

It’s early one crisp spring morning and they are proudly riding their tricycles around the court, their cheeks rosy from the chill in the air. The sunlight dances across the roof tops and a large robin proudly sings as she roosts on the peak of a nearby home. Seeing this, I smile to myself as I remember not feeling the simple joy found in early spring and as those seasons passed into years my moments of joy seeming to be less and less frequent. You may ask why, and I will simply reply, the stork missed my house. My name is Christine Stewart and this is my story.

We were married early summer 2000 and one year later decided that it was time to expand our family to include a child with ten tiny toes, instead of the one we already had with four paws.  We planned on two children, three years apart, at the time this seemed like a logical plan. Looking back I wonder if this was simply my naivety or ignorance.  Taking for granted my fertility which was never something I gave not one thought towards.  Issues with my monthly cycle were something I soon found medication for; I really thought it was normal.

After six months of trying to conceive, we started to worry but were told that we were not considered to have fertility issues until after one year had passed. We knew that as we crept towards our second wedding anniversary that our quest to have a family may be a far greater challenge than we ever expected.

We were finally referred to a nearby fertility doctor who asked questions my husband quite proudly answered while I was obviously mortified. This questioning became routine as we went for the first round of countless tests, fertility monitoring and basil body temperature monitoring.  Weekly doctor appointments and higher doses of drugs each month became a part of our regular routine.

The side effects of the medication put me in a menopausal state: weight gain, hot flashes, panic attacks, sudden thirst, teenager-style acne breakouts and the mood swings.  These not-so-little mood swings had become a part of my life I choose to completely deny.   Even now I still deny the fact that I often threw shoes at my husband, locked him out of the house in a snowstorm and refused to accompany him to pre-arranged engagements on a regular basis.

I didn’t want to see pregnant women; I didn’t want to pretend I was happy for them when in fact I would choke back the tears as I congratulated the beaming couple, wishing it was us.  I didn’t want to cringe when the conversation moved to who was expecting and when would we finally decide to have a family.
test tube

As the years passed and with hope clearly diminishing, the strain on our marriage and my body started to become evident. I had exploratory surgery for the purposes of diagnosis.  With an IV in my hand and wearing a less than flattering gown, my husband kissed me wished me luck and whispered “keep your eye on the prize”, a phrase we often used to get us though some of our more challenging days. I had four different procedures during that one surgery; I was terrified as up to this point I had never been in a hospital for more than stitches.

Waking up, still not making much sense to anyone but myself, I asked if anyone knew when I was going to be a Mom. I never got the answer I wanted.  Just more drugs that I knew I was not able to handle, by this time my size eight body had ballooned to a size twelve and I was tired and no longer able to focus on the “prize”. As part of my job I was now running workshops at a local agency for pregnant teens and teen mothers. I was starting to think that this life was a little unfair and a whole lot cruel.

We contacted another clinic and after waiting for eighteen months, we took our very large file to our first meeting with Dr “V”. His office was unbelievably intimidating, a massive gleaming dark wood desk and pictures of golf legends hung on every available inch of the walls and I did neglect to mention the fact that he was more than a little bit handsome, and he had to examine me. Normally this would have freaked me out beyond belief, but at this point so many people had seen my girlie parts that I had to be careful not to undress in the dentist office!  Dr. V ran only a few more tests, a DNA fragmentation on my husband and a follicle count and a hysterosalpingogram (HSG); a procedure where dye goes through the ovaries into the uterus to determine blockages, it was painful but we had our eyes planted firmly on the prize.

A week later back in Dr. V’s office, he informed us that he would skip IUI (intra uterine insemination) and go directly to IVF (in-vitro fertilization).  He closed our file told us “fasten your seatbelt guys, I’m in the driver’s seat now”;  we had one week to make our decision and begin treatment. Stunned, we made it to the parking lot before I burst into tears. This was the last option and for us, the only option, not to mention a very costly one. We decided to think about it, by the time I had my seatbelt on and the car barely started I knew that all roads lead us to this very day.

We met with our nurse, learned how to give me the daily luperon and puregon injections. We picked up the needles, viles, progesterone, the sharps disposal container and the schedule for daily blood tests and ultrasounds.  The next month was a complete blur, scheduling life around medication times and my complete fear of giving myself needles. I had 13 healthy eggs retrieved, six were IVF (single egg placed in a petri dish with several “washed” sperm) and seven were ICSI (needle goes into the egg and one sperm is injected directly into the egg). We were sent home with more injectables and progesterone and received updates from our nurse on the progress of our out of body conception. All of our ICSI failed to make it to blastocyst stage, but three of our IVF made it and I was inseminated with two embryos on Labour Day 2004.  Labour day, it must have been a good omen. Ten full days of hell we waited for the results of one blood test, years of tears and heartache depending on one phone call.

In the early spring of 2005 we welcomed our sweet little girl (a month ahead of schedule, catching us all by surprise). Fifteen months later we conceived naturally; after taking three pregnancy tests and waiting a week before contacting the clinic the shock slowly began to wear off, I was broken after all!  Who would have ever imagined after all of the treatments and tears that we would be parents twice in 23 months.

We are back in the house, they are covered with blankets snuggled up on the couch munching on a mid-morning snack, blissfully unaware of the miracle they both are.  I am too aware of t e piles of laundry that await me but decide it can wait, the stork may have lost his way but ever since we found him lots of things wait because my life is so lovingly consumed by the prize.



christine StewartChristine Stewart is Director of Operations for York North Family Resource Programmes, The Family Place, a support group counsellor for the Infertility Association Of Canada, and a proud Mom to Meghan and Lucas.