We've moved...

The blog has morphed in the FAQs portion of the Peestick Paradise website. Thanks to everyone that followed this blog. Questions are still welcome, and may be answered here:

Peestick Paradise FAQs

How can I take a good picture of my peestick?

I visit a lot of message boards and I am always amazed that ladies seem to get such great pictures of their peesticks. Mine are always blurry. Any tips?

How did people obsess on peesticks before digital photography? (They probably had to wait until they missed their period to even test. And they rode to the local midwivery in their horseless carriage. Haha. Olden times...)

Anyway, here are a few tips for taking a great picture of your pregnancy test or other peestick:
- Use the macro setting on your camera (it probably looks like a flower)

- If possible, take a picture of your peestick in natural lighting. So what if the neighbors think you are crazy taking a picture of a peestick out on your deck... your picture will look great and be ready for sharing and obsessing.

- If natural light isn't a possibility, at least place your peestick in good bright lighting. Bright is good because you don't want to use your flash when you take the picture, it'll blow out the peestick window and you won't be able to see any lines at all.

- Turn off the flash.

- Sometimes, peesticks look good with a contrasting background. I don't mean giving them a cheesy Olan Mills backdrop of a waterfall. I mean putting your peestick down on a dark piece of paper before you take the picture. Alternatively, sometimes taking the picture on a bright white paper helps the faintest of faint lines stick out.

-Be sure your camera focuses before you take the picture. Assuming you have autofocus on your camera, you can press the shutter halfway down and let it focus before you fully depress the button and take the picture.

-Some ladies have good luck with scanners. They best way I have found to scan is to put a dark piece of paper behind the peestick. Your results may vary, though.

-Ta-da! Now that you have your great peestick picture, tweak away! Just be sure to keep a copy of the "original" so you can remind yourself of what it looked like before you adjusted the contrast and saturation to a point beyond recognition.

- Sign up with photobucket (or similar free website) to post your pictures on forums or send them out to everyone on your Christmas list. Some forums will require that you post a link. Other forums will let you copy the IMG text and paste that directly in your post, which will magically turn into a picture of your peestick right in your post!

Now that you have a great peestick picture, I have to plug my brand spanking new message board. It's a great place to post your peestick and get feedback, or just hang out and chat with other peestickaholics. Be a part of it from the beginning!

Peestick Paradise Forum

(Since this is a new forum, please let me know if you encounter any issues with registration, navigation, or anything else. You can e-mail me at queen@peestickparadise.com. Thanks!)

Calling all Peestickaholics!

Please check out the new Peestick Paradise Forum.

Share and obsess over your latest peesticks. Swap TTC tricks and ponder possibly pregnancy symptoms. A good time will be had by all. Or most. Probably most.

Since this is a brand new forum, you can earn serious Peestick Paradise street cred by being one of the first members. Cool, right?

Of course, I should also mention that it's free. I hope you enjoy your stay:
Peestick Paradise Forum.

When do I use an OPK?

I've been using OPKs for the first time this cycle. I've already gone through an entire box without getting a positive. I just realized today that I wasn't supposed to use FMU. DAMN! What time of day should I test?

Welcome to the world of mid-cycle peesticks! Some manufacturers claim that using FMU can cause false positives due to the urine being too concentrated... but in my personal experience I believe FMU is more likely to cause false negatives.

For you, my lovely citizens of Peestick Paradise, I recently did a little experiment. I tested using OPKs both with FMU, SMU, 3 pm and 8 pm. Here's what I got...

Of course, your results may vary. In fact, MY results may vary from cycle to cycle. But I've tested with OPKs using FMU before and have never gotten a positive. I believe this is because LH surges (typically) later in the day.

Different women find testing at different times works better. Just after noon, however, is a pretty common time to have success. Be consistent so you can see a pattern in your peesticks, if there is one. Some women notice the OPKs get darker and darker until they get a positive. This gives them a bit more advance notice of there impending fertility. For others, there is more variation and no real pattern.

You may want to consider getting IC (internet cheapies) OPKs. The store brand ones are very expensive and it can certainly add up. You can buy ICs from Babyhopes, Ebay, Amazon and various other outlets. I also sell them (through babyhopes and amazon) at the ttc store (look under ovulation tests). Some women do better with different brands of tests.

It is possible you missed your surge this cycle due to using FMU. It's up to you if you'd want to invest in more OPKs for this cycle or not. If you had other fertility signs, and you are well past your usual ovulation date, you may want to just write off OPKs this cycle and start fresh next cycle. (Of course, hopefully you caught the egg and there won't be a next cycle for a long time!)

Good luck!

When should I expect a BFP?

It's already 13 DPO and I still haven't gotten a positive pregnancy test. Should I assume I am out for this cycle?

This is one of the most popular questions I get asked - when can I expect a positive pregnancy test? Here are the stats from various sources on the interweb I've found:

HPT accuracy by DPO:
10 dpo : 35%
11 dpo : 51%
12 dpo : 62%
13 dpo : 68%
14 dpo : 74%
15 dpo : 80%
16 dpo : 88%
17 dpo : 92%
18 dpo : 99%

Does that seem lower than you expected? You aren't alone. Why else would we be whipping out our peesticks at 6 DPO? It's because we think a BFP at 6 DPO is possible, and a BFP by 10 DPO is the norm. This expectation has been created by the culture of the online ttc community, and I am certainly guilty for being part of that. Yes, I am a classic peestick pusher. I just gotta know the second it is possible to know. In reality, though, even with sensitive tests a BFP is unlikely until you near your missed period.

Aside from the fact that on message boards, people are more likely to post and make a big deal over an early BFP than a late one -- there is also the human error factor to consider. I don't want to offend any of my beloved citizens of Peestick Paradise, but sometimes those super early BFPs are actually not BFPs at all... they are errors, evaps, or sometimes even just a case of looking to hard and seeing the reagent strip. Then a few days later, they get a real BFP. Of course, they think they got their BFP at 6 DPO... but in reality, they didn't get a real line until 12 DPO.

The above stats are confirmed with other sources of data. Fertility Friend has an excellent page on this. You'll see that according the Fertility Friend's data, the average first BFP is 13.6 DPO, and the average first "false positive" is 10.6 DPO. This tells me that people are testing early, but the average is still close to 14 DPO. This means that a lot of women aren't getting that first BFP until after 14 DPO. So I think the above stats are likely correct.

So this was my long-winded way of saying... don't give up. Don't give up at 13 DPO, or 14 DPO, or even 15 DPO. It ain't over until AF crashes your peestick party.

Does sperm quality decrease with abstinence?

My husband and I rarely get a chance to DTD because we have two young children. We really want to add a third, though!! I've heard that if you don't have sex often enough, the sperm quality goes down. Is this true?

While it may sound like a ploy by husbands to get wives to "do the deed" more often, there is actually some truth to it. Fertility specialists often recommend that men with low sperm counts only DTD every other day for optimal sperm health. So why isn't a longer interval of abstinence even better? If waiting one day helps sperm, waiting 20 days should make for super sperm, right? Eh... not so much.

Here's an article (copied below) that explains it better than I can...

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - The results of a new study suggest that prolonged sexual abstinence may actually reduce, rather than increase, semen quality in oligozoospermic men.

"After only 2 days of abstinence, sperm from patients with male factor infertility initiate a process of quality degradation," Dr. Eliahu Levitas of Soroka University Medical Center in Beer-Sheva, Israel and colleagues write in the June issue of Fertility and Sterility.

Dr. Levitas and his team note that most clinics likely follow World Health Organization recommendations that men abstain for 2 to 7 days before semen collection for fertility evaluation. The researchers conducted the current study to determine the effect of abstinence on sperm quality.

The researchers analyzed 9489 semen samples from 6008 men, comparing the concentration of sperm, percentage of normal sperm, percentage of motile sperm, and volume of semen, to the duration of abstinence before sperm collection.

Among the 3506 samples classified as oligozoospermic, defined as sperm concentrations below 20 million per milliliter, peak mean sperm concentration occurred after 1 day of abstinence and declined thereafter. Peak sperm motility also was seen after 1 day of abstinence, followed by a gradual decline. Percentage of morphologically normal sperm also peaked at 1 to 2 days of abstinence for oligozoospermic men. Total sperm count and total motile sperm count increased until day 4 of abstinence, and then declined.

Normozoospermic samples showed a nonsignificant decline in sperm concentration after up to 2 days of abstinence, followed by a gradual increase to a peak on days 6 and 7. Sperm motility increased after 1 day of abstinence, and remained high through day 7.

Among the men with normal sperm, peak normal sperm morphology was seen without abstinence, remained at a lower level up until day 10 of abstinence, and declined thereafter.

Dr. Levitas and colleagues conclude that, for optimum sperm motility and morphology, sperm should be collected from men with male factor infertility after 1 day of abstinence. While total sperm and motile sperm may increase after four days of abstinence, they continue, further prolonged abstinence will result in worse sperm morphology.

Seven days of abstinence will improve sperm quality among men with normal semen, the researchers add, but abstinence beyond 10 days is not recommended.

So, it's worth it to try to DTD once a week or so, even when you aren't fertile, just to keep the sperm in good shape. Not to mention, it's good for your marriage too. But, if prolonged abstinence is unavoidable (due to a partner being away on business, for example) encourage your husband to "handle things" himself.

"Just Relax"

My DH and I have been TTC for almost a year now. All my friends tell me to relax and it'll happen. They tell stories of friends who got pregnant after they stopped trying. Is there any truth to the "relax and it'll happen" thing?

Nothing relaxes someone like telling them they HAVE to relax. Stress can delay or even prevent ovulation. So if you are so stressed out from TTC, it is possible that your stress is sabotaging your efforts. For most people, though, stress doesn't mean they can't ovulate...

Look at it this way, many people who have been ttc for more than a few months are stressed. Most of those people, though, do eventually get pregnant. I think you hear stories about people getting pregnant after they stop TTC because they are unusual. A couple who was freaking out because they were ttc for 8 months and didn't get pregnant, then decided to stop officially trying and gets pregnant in the 9th month is a fun story. That story will get told. No one tells the story about a couple who TTC for 8 months and were feeling stressed out and then got pregnant in the 9th month of trying. That's a boring story.

The reality is, you are more likely to get pregnant if you are trying. By trying, I mean that you need to time DTD properly and not just DTD randomly. But just because you are trying to time things correctly doesn't mean you need to be stressed out or obsessive. Many women love charting, but others find it stressful. If you find it stressful, toss out the chart. DTD based on OPKs or other fertility signs.

So, the short answer is this: As a strategy for getting pregnant, the "stop trying" strategy isn't too likely to yield results.

To Douche or Not to Douche

I get so much EWCM when I am fertile, it just feels gross if I don't keep really clean "down there". I've heard douching hurt fertility. Is that true?

You've heard right. Studies show that douching decreases your odds of conceiving by 30%. (I got this stat from The Mother of All Pregnancy Books by Ann Douglas). Douchers (sorry) are also at increased risk for pelvic inflammatory disease and ectopic pregnancies. Bad times.

I don't recommend douching whether or not your are TTC. If you have loads of EWCM (and lots of women reading this blog WISH they had that problem) you could always wear a panty liner during your fertile period to feel more comfortable.

Half-line on Pregnancy Test

I took a pregnancy test and only half a line appeared. It is thick and pink, and it showed up in the time limit. Am I pregnant?

I'm sorry to tell you that a half-line on a pregnancy test is an error. This is assuming you mean it was cut in half horizontally - so it was a short test line next to the reference line. These happen from time to time, even on the best brands of tests. It doesn't mean you are not pregnant... but the information you got from that test was about as accurate as peeing on an actual stick from the tree in your front yard.

Now, if the line was cut in half vertically - meaning it just looked thinner than the reference line - that is most likely a BFP. Sometimes those test lines are thinner, or thicker, than the control line. But they do always extend all the way up - and should be just as tall as the reference line on a || test.

Good luck!

Always a Second Line on OPK

I've been using OPKs to try to time the BDing. There is always a second line on the OPK, but it never seems positive. What's up with that?

The fact is, some women never get a positive OPK, but they are still ovulating. There are two things I will recommend that you try. First, try a different brand of OPK. They vary in sensitivity so you may do well with another brand of test. Second, I recommend that you try testing twice a day. Many women have short LH surge that would be missed if they weren't testing twice a day.

It is common to always see a second line on an OPK. That is because most women always have at least a little bit of lutenizing hormone (LH) in their system.

A third thing you may want to consider is charting. This will help confirm whether or not you are ovulating. It is possible that you are not getting a positive OPK because you aren't getting LH surges and ovulating. If, after a couple months of charting, you find that you are not ovulating - contact your doctor and bring your charts with you to the appointment. Your doctor may be able to help you start ovulating once again.

Happy Mother's Day!

Mother's Day can be a bittersweet time for someone who is trying to conceive and/or struggling with fertility. Take some time for yourself today and remember that your future baby is out there (somewhere) just waiting for that right sperm and egg to meet up. You'll be able to tell you baby how much he or she was loved and wanted - and if they want proof, you can show them the receipts for the hundreds of peesticks you've been going through!

Happy Mother's Day to all mamas and mamas-to-be!!

Brands of OPKs

This will be my first time using ovulation prediction tests. Which brand is best?

I can tell you my personal favorite brand are the cheapies sold by Babyhopes. I like them because they are cheap. Honestly. That is a biggest selling point for me. I often test twice a day, to make sure I don't miss a short surge, so I can go through a lot of tests in a single cycle. If I by a name brand test and pay $22 for a box of 7 OPKs... well, you can see how quickly the costs would add up. Babyhopes cheapie OPKs you can get 14 for $7.99... or 100 for $60 (plus 10 HPTs)! (You can get IC OPKs at the store - look for the OPK section) These are dip tests - meaning you have to collect your pee in a cup and then dip the strip. But who needs a big plastic casing when all we really want is that test strip?

While I've always had excellent results with the cheapies, not everyone in TTC-land agrees. Some people prefer Answer brand OPKs, or First Response, or Clear Blue Easy brand OPKs. Just like HPTs, different OPKs have different levels of sensitivity. Unlike HPTs, have a super-sensitive OPK isn't necessarily a good thing. It could always look positive - or you may have a week of positive tests and not be sure when you actually Oed. There is no one brand of OPK that is best for all women. It really depends on so many factors - including how often you want to test, how much you want to spend, and how strong of an LH surge you get before you ovulate.

So my advice is to start with either the cheapies... or if you prefer to not use a dip test, try the Clear Blue Easy OPKs (which have a pretty good reputation). Once you find one you like, it is best to stick with it. You'll be come familiar with what a positive result looks like for a particular brand and will become more confident in interpreting the results.

Good luck - and have fun peeing on sticks!

Charting During AF

I've heard conflicting things about charting during your period. Should I be trying to get as many morning temps as possible, including ones during AF? Or is it pointless to chart during AF?

I personally do chart during AF... but it is only because I am afraid to break the habit. It's just like how they put those sugar pills in birth control for the week of your period. You don't need to take them, but for some women it is helpful to just continue with the routine so they don't forget.

For many women, BBTs during AF are all over the place. For me, I have some cycles were the AF temps are high, some cycles were it drops just prior to and and stays low throughout AF. Seeing high temps during AF can be confusing to some charters who then conclude that they may be pregnant afterall. As long as you understand that temps taken during AF can be high OR low without it meaning you are pregnant, then go ahead and temp through AF to keep the routine in place.

If, on the other hand, have a few days break from your thermometer will make you feel less crazy... then by all means wait until AF is over before you start temping each cycle. You should still have plenty of good temp days before you ovulate to establish your pre-O baseline, and therefore be able to see the shift.

(Sidenote: Only the very very rare woman with a very long AF and early O could have trouble charting if she skips the AF portion of her cycle... but due to wacky AF hormones that impact BBT, this same woman may have a hard time picking up her ovulation pattern anyway.)

How do I check CM?

I've heard that cervical mucus is a good way to predict when you should have sex in order to get pregnant. How do I check my cervical mucus?

Cervical mucus (or CM as many TTCers prefer to call it... it just sounds nicer to not have to say 'mucus') is indeed a great way to gauge how fertile you are at any point during your cycle. As with most rules of fertility awareness, the key is to know your own body and patterns. This may mean you'll need to keep track of your CM for a couple of cycles before you get the hang of it.

Basically, the wetter and more slippery and stretchy the CM, the more fertile it is. If you are dry, you are probably not at your most fertile. Same with stick, CM, which isn't a very fertile environment either. What you are looking for is "wet" or (even better) "egg white cervical mucus" or "EWCM". EWCM signals that your body is fertile. What makes EWCM distinct is it's ability to stretch. Put some on your fingers, and then pull your fingers apart. Does it stretch? Several inches? If so, you've hit the TTC cm gold!! Grab your DP and head for the bedroom.

Some women never get EWCM. This doesn't necessarily mean there is a fertility problem, but it could theoretically make it harder to conceive. EWCM helps nourish and transport spermies... the wet stuff works too, it just doesn't work quite as efficiently. If you are a bit dry down below, you may want to try a product such as pre-seed to help. It's a lube that doesn't hurt sperm...

What is most important is that you learn to recognize the type of CM that is your most fertile. It may be EWCM. You may get it for several days, or you may just get it the day before you O. CM alone isn't as useful as CM tracking combined with charting and/or using OPKs.

By the way, a good source of info and pictures of CM is the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility.

Enjoy the world of mucus.

BBT and Insomnia

I am trying to chart, but I have a 11-month old that co-sleeps with us. He doesn't sleep very well - and wakes for nursing several times throughout the night. So I never get the three or four solid hours of sleep recommended to take my BBT accurately. Should I even bother charting?

You aren't alone. Lots of moms find they don't sleep more than a couple hours at a time - especially if they have young children who nurse throughout the night or need some extra attention to get to sleep and stay asleep.

The key to successful charting is to try to be as consistent as possible. Take your temperature at roughly the same time every morning and under the same conditions. The odds are, you'll see a pattern. (But if you are nursing, you may not be ovulating... but don't let that stop you from nursing! You'll drop an egg when your body is good and ready.)

Getting Periods and Pregnancy

I got my period, but I am still pretty sure I am pregnant. Is this possible?

Possible? Yes. Probable? No.

Some women, a small minority, do experience regular bleeding throughout a pregnancy. It is not their period, but rather pregnancy-related bleeding that looks like their period. Often, bleeding in pregnancy can signify a placenta issue (such as placenta previa). Sometimes the bleeding indicates a threatened miscarriage. Sometimes the bleeding is benign and the cause is unknown. Bleeding during pregnancy should always be reported to the doctor immediately to rule out any problems.

Now... you posted this question because you got your period but you still think you are pregnant. I'll assume you've done the obvious, which is pee on a stick, and ended up with a BFN. Statistically, the odds are that you are not pregnant. However... peesticks are not 100% accurate. The only way to be certain about your pregnancy status is to have a blood test done.

Some doctors will scoff at the idea of doing a blood draw if you've gotten BFNs on home pregnancy tests. I've heard plenty of stories from women who were denied the blood test and required to do a peestick test at the doctor's office instead. If your OB/GYN does this to you -- ask your family doctor for the blood test instead. Sometimes they don't have as strict of a policy on pregnancy testing protocols as OB/GYNs do (who, in their defense, probably get at least dozen calls a day from women thinking they are pregnant, but keep getting BFNs - and 99% of those women aren't pregnant.)

So... to answer your question, YES. It is possible to get (what appears to be) your period but still be pregnant. It is even possible to get your period AND get BFNs, and still be pregnant. If it weren't possible, TLC wouldn't have been able to make their "I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant" series. But, hey, those women are so unusual that they made a television show about them.

Midcycle Spotting

"I am at about cd 16 and I had some spotting when I wiped. What does this mean? Is it implantation spotting?"

At CD 16, it is highly unlikely that you are experiencing implantation spotting. More likely, the spotting could be a sign of ovulation. Especially if the spotting was accompanied by EWCM. EWCM with streaks of blood is about as fertile as you can get. So get yourself to the bedroom, ASAP (preferably, accompanied by someone with eager sperm).

(Yes, just when your DP thought descriptions of your cervical mucus couldn't be any more of an anti-aphrodisiac we go and add "streaking blood" to the description. As in "Come on, honey, I have egg white cervical mucus with streaks of blood! Let's get it ON!!!")

Of course, this talk of ovulation is all speculation without charting. Spotting could even simply be the result of your cervix getting bumped while DTD.

Is a temp dip a good sign?

I am charting and my bbt took a dive at 9 DPO, then came back up to regular post-O levels at 10 DPO. Is this an implantation dip?

Implantation dips typically occur between 7 and 10 DPO - or around the time implantation would happen. There are serveral theories as to why this happens. Estrogen levels rise when you become pregnant, which is associated with lower temperatures. However, a surge of estrogen is common midway through the TWW... so it doesn't necessarily mean you are pregnant. Progesterone causes temperatures to rise, and levels of progesterone increase the week after ovulation and then start to decrease. Another theory for implantation dips is that about mid TWW, your progesterone levels start to decrease as your body nears the arrival of AF. Then implantation happens, and progesterone levels suddenly increase again, causing a dip to appear on the chart.

Implantation dips are controversial, to say the least. Some claim it is an early pregnancy sign, but the fact is that the majority of pregnancy charts do NOT show an implantation dip - and plenty of non-pregnant charts do show a dip. There are so many things that can cause a dip - including sleeping with your mouth open or not sticking the thermometer into your mouth as far as you usually do. In my personal charting experience... I had 12 months of charting before I got my BFP. During that time, I had 3 "implantation dips" that turned out to be nothing. On my pregnancy chart, there was no dip. So personal experience has made me skeptical.

Fertility Friend did a statistical study of implantation dips and this is what they found:
Here is what we found:

11% of charts that showed ovulation but did not result in a pregnancy displayed this pattern.

23% of charts that showed ovulation and did result in a pregnancy showed this pattern.
Of the pregnancy charts that showed this pattern, the most likely days for the dip to occur were between 7 and 8 days past ovulation.

How long will it take to get pregnant?

My husband and I have been trying for five months without any luck. How long will it take to get pregnant?

If I had a magic 8 ball that said anything other than "answer looks foggy, please try again", maybe I could tell you. Even when both the man and woman are perfectly healthy and timing the BDing just right, it can still take a while to hit the jackpot. Here are some statistics for you:

25% get BPF in the first month
60% get BFP by six months
75% get BFP by nine months
80% get BFP by twelve months
90% get BFP by eighteen months

Of course, if you are older or have any fertility issues it can take longer than average. If you are over 35, you can go to your doctor for fertility testing after six months of trying. For those under 35, most doctors won't do fertility testing until you've been trying for at least a year.

Good luck!

Does a BFP after the time limit count?

I think I have a BFP, but the line showed up after the time limit - does that count?

Don't celebrate quite yet -- but sometimes very early BFPs show up faintly after the time limit. But it could also be an evap line. Test again tomorrow and see if you have a clearer line. If not, it was probably just an evap. Click here for more info on evaps.