Infertility: What the What?

Since trying to get pregnant,  I am fluent in a whole new language. Here’s a collection of oft-used conception jargon and abbreviations, presented in no particular order.

TTC: Trying to Conceive. The beginning of the end of your carefree, spontaneous sex life.

BD: The most annoying term ever. This is “babydancing,” as in S-E-X. Intercourse.  Come on people,  the jig is up. This is no dance move. Once you’re lurking on message boards where this term is being thrown around like candy on Halloween, there is very little spring to your step. And I can’t tell you how many times (okay twice) I’ve had to show my Fertility Friend charts to a medical professional and have them go, “Huh? What’s BD?” My crankypants ob/gyn might have said something along the lines of “Oh, for the love of god!” about this term. I couldn’t agree more.

Day 1: The first day of your cycle. The day you get your period. Then crawl to the couch where you can finally enjoy that glass of wine you’ve been denying yourself in the faint hope you are with child. Then watch a marathon of the Real Housewives of Somewhere.

Two Week Wait: This is hell on earth. It’s the 12-14 days from the day you ovulate until Day 1. It’s torture and if you run a little obsessive, like some people I know, it makes you act in ways that make you quite hateful. Every gas bubble, nether region twinge, boob ache or bout of fatigue makes you wonder if you are finally pregnant. You analyze every single symptom and then ask Google stupid things like  “Could lower back pain on Day 18 mean I’m pregnant?” or “Can PMS mimic early pregnancy?” or “Do you get blue veins in your boobs when you’re not pregnant.”

BBT: Basal Body Temperature. After you ovulate, you see a shift in your waking temperature, which is sustained until Day 1, or a few days before. Once your temperature drops, it’s all over, and you should plan a day of crying into the couch pillow. And again, for some people,  taking this temperature orally doesn’t work (allergies and congestion can really screw things up). But up the vag? Works like a charm. Nothing like starting the day by shoving a thermometer up there. And then feeling the need to repeat the act more than once just to make sure you got an accurate reading. This is another area where obsessive compulsive behavior flourishes.

Clomid: First out of the grab bag of fertility tricks. Not pregnant in six months and over 35? Take one or two Clomid for 5 days at the beginning of your cycle. It will either make very lazy ovaries ovulate, or whip slightly harder working ones into even better shape. It tricks your brain into thinking you aren’t producing enough estrogen so it works overtime to produce more. This is actually exactly what happens during menopause (except it’s no trick, it’s the cold hard truth) so yes, this is a time when you can enjoy hot flashes and night sweats about 15-20 years in advance.

IUI: Conception via catheter using only “super sperm.” Usually given along with Clomid to get more follicles and targets. First stop after the Clomid-only train comes to a grinding dead-end.

IVF: The big guns. The romantic union of sperm and egg in a laboratory. Very expensive. Almost never covered by insurance. Lots of drugs that sound awful (none of those are covered either). Sometimes  abused by crazy people who want litters. (That’s right, Octomom, I’m talking to you). Unfortunately stories like this perpetuate lots of myths and misunderstanding about fertility treatments.

HSG: Hysterosalpingogram, or a fun little test to see if your fallopian tubes are blocked. It involves stirrups, a catheter, swishing iodine around in your insides by rolling back and forth to see how it moves through tubes. Then someone takes pictures.

OPK: Ovulation Predictor Kit, aka the Devil’s Child. When you want to time sex perfectly, and you are sick of doing it on Days 8, 10, 12, 14, 16 and 18 to cover all your bases, you pee on these sticks and they let you know precisely when to get busy. And mean it. Now, if the afore-mentioned sex-on-demand schedule sounds like fun to you, (and you are not in the throes of new-found lust) try it for a few months, and let me know how you like it. Anyway, most OPKs can be hard to read, so you will inevitably end up forking over wads of money for the digital kind which are pretty clear. Smiley face means you’re ovulating. Circle means you’re not.

Transvaginal Ultrasound: Also known as the vagcam, or the dildocam. When you are new to having your ovaries monitored, you are not expecting to have it done via a probe bearing a lubricated condom. It is even more disarming when the person wielding the probe is an attractive man.

Semen Analysis: Oh, this is a fun one too! Particularly when you are the one the doctor’s office calls with the results and you explain them to your husband in a way that makes him feel like less of a man. It is even worse when you completely misquote the total count that was given to you over the phone. Or use words like “borderline.”

Cervical Mucus: It just keeps getting better doesn’t it? You see, the fluids that flow from your cervix are a strong indicator of where you are in your cycle. Although there are many phases of fluid, there are really only two you need to know. Hostile to sperm, or ready to receive. Close to ovulation you’re supposed to see something that resembles raw egg whites, and this is what sperm like best. Getting to know this pattern involves quite a bit of “research” that yields confusing, contradictory and unsatisfying results that never resemble what you see on Google images.

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