Dear Ask the Midwife,
My partner and I have been trying to get pregnant for almost a year. My doctor mentioned fertility testing and the possibility of IVF. I don't see that as a possibility due to the costs involved. I have been charting my cycles and can see a spike to indicate ovulation. Do you have any suggestions for natural ways we may be able to increase fertility?
The first suggestion I have is to have your husband's sperm tested, if that has not been done. Often there are inexpensive ways to increase your chances by "boosting" the effectiveness of his sperm if there are difficulties there. If not, sperm donation is much less expensive than IVF.
Second, on your chart it is not really a spike you are looking for, but rather a sustained increase in your temperature for the second half of your cycle that lasts at least 11 days. Are you getting other signs, such as stretchy cervical mucus? If it truly looks like you are ovulating (a blood test can tell, as can home ovulation predictor kits), you are healthy yourself, and your husband's sperm is normal, then for a 28-day cycle you can try abstaining for the first week (when you have your period), then having intercourse every other day for the next 10 days or so. Sometimes, that's all it takes.
Cynthia Flynn, CNM. PhD, is the General Director of the Family Health and Birth Center which provides prenatal, birth, postnatal, gynecological and primary health care to underserved women and their families in Washington, D.C. Recently Cynthia served as Associate Professor of Nursing at Seattle University. There she not only taught, but remained in full scope clinical midwifery practice at Valley Medical Center where she cared for pregnant and birthing women, and practices well-woman gynecology, family planning, and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases.
Cynthia founded Columbia Women's Clinic and Birth Center, where she took care of pregnant women and infants up to two weeks of age and attended both birth center and hospital births. Before Cynthia earned her CNM, she worked as a registered nurse in labor and delivery and postpartum and is a certified Doula and Doula trainer.