Ovulation is the most important piece to the getting pregnant puzzle

The Physiology of Ovulation

Prior to Ovulation, each egg cell is housed inside of a protective sheath called a follicle. The follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone, both produced by the pituitary gland, stimulate the development of the egg within the follicle. This growth takes place in several follicles at the same time. Over the course of several days, one follicle will develop further than the others and become the dominant follicle. As this follicle grows in size, it migrates from deep within the ovary until it reaches the ovarian wall. Once there, the walls of the follicle thin and fluid develops. Mounting pressure from a both the fluid and egg within the mature follicle cause bulging along the border of the ovary. The thinning follicular wall will rupture resulting in ovulation as the egg is released from the ovary.

What is ovulation tracking?

Ovulation Tracking is the use of diagnostic ultrasound to image the development and rupture of a dominant follicle. Ovulation Tracking requires several appointments per menstrual cycle. At these appointments, women will have a transvaginal ultrasound which will be interpreted by board certified, Massachusetts licensed radiologists who are accredited by the Joint Commission.

Women often spend a lot of time trying to prevent pregnancy not realizing how much time it actually takes to successfully become pregnant. There is a lot of misconception surrounding the female menstrual cycle and the most fertile days for conception. When a couple makes the decision to start a family, ovulation prediction is a big deal. If you don’t know when you’re ovulating, it is impossible to know when it is likely to become pregnant. Nothing can make you more obsessed with science and technology than the biological urge to reproduce. Unfortunately, nothing makes fulfilling this desire more difficult than your own body. You’re most fertile in the two to three days before ovulation. By timing intercourse around ovulation, couples can exponentially increase their odds of bringing a sperm and an egg together when conception is most likely to occur. Cue the invention of the ovulation predictor kits (OPKs)!

Why Ovulation Predictor Kits are Frustrating

In a perfect world, these kits would infallibly detect ovulation and ovulation would inevitably lead to pregnancy! The reality is much more complicated. OPKs indicate a surge of a hormone that is present in the body prior to ovulation. It does not, however, indicate that ovulation actually occurred. Many women find themselves in a frenzy peeing on a stick, often timing bathroom breaks at work to try to catch that elusive hormone surge, which can occur anywhere from 10 hours to 8 hours after day 10 of your menstrual cycle! The fertile window that these kits hint at is sometimes just too vast!

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about 7.3 million women in the United States aged 15–44 years have difficulty getting pregnant[1] That means that the market is wide open for something that will make the technology of this frustrating, anxious process a bit further into the 21st century. OPKs are a $40 million dollar business in the United States, so if you are having difficulty tracking ovulation, you are not alone! Often times there is nothing “wrong” with couples that are having trouble conceiving. Many couples simply struggle with timing. We are here to be the bridge for couples trying to conceive before they are referred to IVF or reproductive endocrinology.

 

Let’s break it down in terms of the percentages….

Serial ultrasound imaging in the early to mid or late follicular phase can map the fate of a follicle as it grows. At any given time during a menstrual cycle, the chances to conceive are between 20-22%. With ultrasound guided ovulation tracking, the percentage of successful conception leaps to 76% in just one cycle of ovulation tracking! The numbers increase to 98% at 6 months of ovulation tracking[2].

Irregular or abnormal ovulation accounts for 30% to 40% of all cases of infertility[3]. Some women ovulate much later in their cycle than day 14, which is considered to be the most common cycle day for ovulation. “The most common cause of late ovulation is a luteal phase defect indicated by poor follicle production, failure of the uterine lining to respond to normal levels of progesterone, or premature demise of the corpus luteum. Stress, illness, or excessive exercise can also be a cause for some women. This is most commonly the cause of sporadic lateness or the occasional missed egg”[4]. At Perfect Timing Ultrasound we do not diagnose fertility. We simply help to narrow down your fertile window so your chances for successful conception are greatly improved! If you or someone you know is having difficulty trying to conceive, but do not qualify to see a specialist, Perfect Timing might be able to help!

 

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[1] https://www.cdc.gov/features/7things-womens-health/index.html

[2]https://www.glowm.com/section_view/heading/Transvaginal%20ultrasonography%20and%20female%20infertility/item/325

[3] https://www.webmd.com/infertility-and-reproduction/irregular-periods-and-getting-pregnant#1

[4] https://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-late-ovulation.htm

Our first mompreneur business trip

We were recently invited to arrange a booth for Perfect Timing Ultrasound at a local resource fair. (So cool!) We thought this would be a fantastic way to introduce ourselves to the community. One of the questions we were asked in our interview was, “What is your favorite memory or story over the years involving you and your business?” We could have called on any of the amazing gender reveals we have been a part of or what an incredible experience we have had implementing our new service; Ovulation Tracking. We thought long and hard about all of the wonderful moments we have had with expectant families doing 3D Ultrasound. When it came down to it, we couldn’t choose just one of these memories. Instead, we reflected back on our incredible journey to becoming mompreneurs. After putting our babies to sleep, we dedicated countless late nights to fulfilling this dream. We accomplished so much in the middle of the night! The clarity that washes over you once the babies are down and you switch in to business mode, is striking. Crossing tasks off of that mompreneur to do list is like a shot of pure adrenaline. We planned 10 pm conference calls with our consultants, scheduled future social media posts, and researched everything about the responsibilities associated with running a business.

The Trip

One task that we couldn’t check off the late night list was our business trip to Milwaukee. This crazy mompreneur journey of ours required us to fly out to Wisconsin for a few days. We needed to get some hands on experience in elective 3D/4D and gender determination ultrasound with our consultant firm. It was a trip we had dreaded scheduling because that meant that we would have to tell our husbands that we were leaving them to fend for themselves with the kids. This was not a conversation that either of us were looking forward to. We had been working so hard on Perfect Timing, but were still fulfilling our roles as wives and mothers. Apparently, we had done a fine job of this because “PT” as we had come to call it, still wasn’t exactly a real thing to the men in our lives. They knew we were up to something big but I honestly don’t think they could comprehend just how serious we were about it. As you can imagine, the business trip conversation was a bit of a surprise to them. After a few conversations, they came to accept that we were going. Honestly, they were pretty great about it, and we are super thankful because this trip was massively important for PT.

 While in Wisconsin, we worked diligently to learn the ways of the elective imaging world. Coming from a medical imaging background, we have mastered the protocols of the diagnostic world. We have had in depth training in our imaging specialties and are well practiced in safety standards as well as proper imaging techniques. That being said, we had some methods to learn as far as elective imaging was concerned. Thankfully, we had THE BEST trainer ever in our dear friend, Nicole – we love you, girl! Because of our diagnostic imaging experience, we were able to pick things up really quickly. Kristen’s sonographer skills are incredible. She was able to capture stunning images right out of the gate.

Calling a Gender

Together, we also studied the techniques for performing early gender determinations. “Calling a gender” on a 14 week old fetus is no easy task. There are many things that can impact your ability to accurately visualize the gender on a baby of this gestational age. Something we cannot forget to mention here is the teeny tiny size of 14 week old fetal gender “parts.” At 14 weeks, the entire baby is the size of a lemon! That really provides some perspective on the size of the ity bity gender parts we are looking for and using to make this determination. Fetal position, including baby sitting on his or her bum (this does happen) or whether or not legs are crossed, location of the umbilical cord, and even maternal body habitus can also play a role in how well/what we can see with ultrasound. We learned all about these variables on our business trip. Kristen and I have even developed some of our own tricks since then to utilize in the event of a difficult gender scan.

Mompreneurs gone wild

(This is the “favorite memory/story” we submitted to the resource fair…hopefully they don’t kick us out)

Admittedly, our business trip wasn’t all business. We had a ton of laughs! This trip of ours was our first time away from our little families; just us two girls traveling unsupervised! The whole trip was so much fun. We had an absolute blast together and bonded more than ever! Our first night there we found the most amazing Mexican restaurant- “in Milwaukee?!” You ask. Yes, in Milwaukee! It was SOO good, they made their own guacamole in house, right at the table! Being that we are both creatures of habit, and suckers for good guac, apparently, we returned the following night for take-home Guac and chips to eat at the hotel. It was THAT good! That night we also picked up some “go us” champagne at CVS because… IN WISCONSIN, THEY SELL CHAMPAGNE AT CVS!! That alone just had to be celebrated. When we got back to the hotel, we had every intention of getting more work done on the website, but then, when we turned the TV on, there was a Jersey Shore marathon on… we had no choice. We kicked back and watched some good ol’ trash TV over chips, superb guac and CVS champagne.

It should come as no surprise that we had a small run in with the Milwaukee Police Department during this trip. I promise we are law abiding citizens and this had nothing to do with the champagne! We are painfully cautious in all ways, always. It just so happened that we were driving a rental car. At 3 am. On the way back to the airport. After a very long, strenuous trip. On the wrong side of the road. With no headlights on. IT WAS A RENTAL! No worries, we were not arrested. The police officer did not help us locate our headlights, but we did find them. We arrived at the airport in plenty of time to return the rental car and check in for our flight home to see our precious babies and wonderful husbands. It was a trip we will never forget and hope we get to recreate again one day! … minus the police officer….maybe!

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Why early OB ultrasound is so amazing

 

How early can you see baby’s heartbeat?

There is a lot happening in the first trimester of pregnancy! From weeks 6-13 the development that takes place is incredible. At Perfect Timing we offer Pregnancy Verification starting at 6 weeks. This the earliest opportunity to see your baby’s heart beating utilizing ultrasound. At this early point in the game, baby is still called an “embryo.” Looking at the screen at this gestational age, you will see what many of our clients describe as a “blob.” Upon closer inspection, a small flicker is usually able to be identified (presuming the dating is accurate). This tiny flicker is the heartbeat! Though baby does appear to be blob-esc, cells are dividing and baby is developing right before our very eyes.

From week 6 to week 7, baby doubles in size. Your pregnancy tracking apps will tell you that your baby is now the size of a blueberry. As far as ultrasound goes, baby’s features are still difficult to decipher. Believe it or not, however, hands and feet are already starting to form!

Baby has arms and legs already!?

After week 8, baby is called a “fetus” and has started moving around already. Within the next few weeks, baby’s arms and legs become easier to identify. By week 10, baby has noticeably developed in to a teeny tiny human. These details are apparent on ultrasound! Baby is busy; moving all around and kicking and stretching arms and legs that are now able to bend. The development that has taken place in the past few weeks is nothing short of miraculous! Baby is looking incredible in 3D, 4D and HD Live now! These pictures are amazing. Your baby is still so small that we are capable of imaging baby within the circumference of the womb on 3D ultrasound. This means that visually, you can see how the uterus and gestational sac surround the baby.

By week 11, baby is almost completely formed and by weeks 12 baby is able to make sucking movements with his or her little mouth! We are able to watch as baby touches its mouth and face with tiny fingers that are just starting to bend. As the first trimester comes to a close, your pea pod sized baby is just under 3 inches long with organs that are nearly fully formed.

But when can we learn the sex of our baby!?!

Week 14 marks the beginning of the second trimester! Baby is getting bigger and stronger and even using his or her facial muscles now. Weighing in at about 1.5 ounces by this point, Baby is moving around like crazy! On ultrasound, we are able to detect some exciting news for expectant parents starting this week! That’s right, we can now determine the sex of your baby!

Our Gender Determination ultrasounds are always so much fun! These scans can be tricky due to the way that baby’s anatomy is shaped at this gestational age. This early on, male and female parts actually look a lot alike. A few other factors like baby’s position and the location of the umbilical cord can come in to play as well. It takes patience, a well trained eye, and a talented ultrasound hand to perform a Gender Determination at 14 weeks. Fear not, we have all of these qualities and more in Kristen! She is an ARDMS licensed sonographer with 10 years of experience in OBGYN sonography. She is so amazing at what she does. I couldn’t ask for a better co-owner and am thrilled to be on this adventure with her!

 

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