saving your budget & your mental health while trying to get pregnant, part two

semen analysis if you’re not getting pregnant & you don’t have any known issues that could be compromising your fertility (or even if you do!), it’s important to get the sperm checked out. if you’re using donor sperm from a clinic, it’s already been checked for quality, but if you’re using a known donor or you’re just a couple trying to make a baby the old-fashioned way, the dude should go in for a semen analysis. he just does his business into a sterile cup & drops it off at the lab & they check it out. if the dude has low counts or poor morphology, you’ve got an uphill battle on your hands. there are simple things he can do to try to raise the counts (boxers instead of briefs, not using his laptop directly on his lap, don’t do anything that makes anyone want to punch you in the nutsack), & there are also medications he can try. semen analysis can be a little bit on the pricy side if his insurance doesn’t cover it (a lot of programs don’t)–around $200. but the good news is that if everything comes back normal, hopefully you’ll only have to do it once.

fertility bloodwork a doc will order this before prescribing you any drugs. they’re checking out your levels of luteizing hormone, follicle stimulating hormone, thyroid function, etc. if any of those levels comes back weird, it can indicate a fertility issue & potentially a protocol other than the typical “throw some clomid at it & see what happens” course of treatment. my levels all came back normal, so i can’t speak to how a person would proceed if anything came back weird. this is INSANELY expensive if your insurance doesn’t cover it–nearly $1000.

insurance basically, if you’re going down the road of seeking medical treatment for infertility, you’re going to need some halfways decent insurance. you’ll at least want something that will cover bloodwork because you’re probably going to be getting a lot of it. & you’ll probably want insurance anyway so you can get good pre-natal care once you’re pregnant, so don’t dilly dally. i personally was enrolled in medicare after being on disability for two years, so i don’t have any experience comparison shopping. but if you’re low-income, there are usually county lawyers you can see that can help you choose a program that fits your budget.

acupuncture some people swear by this. they say they tried to get pregnant for a year, started acupuncture, & were knocked up within two months. i tried it but i did not care for it. i just find it impossible to sit still & do nothing for an hour. acupuncture can also be expensive, like $50 a session, & very few insurance programs will cover it. your best bet for saving duckets on acupuncture is to find a community clinic. they usually operate on a sliding scale. i paid about $15 a session. you’ll most likely be enjoying the experience in a room with a bunch of other people instead of a private room with a nice table, but if cutting costs is your bottom line, it’s not a big deal. no one is really trying to make conversation in an acupuncture clinic, so you can just zone out & pretend you’re alone.

HSG this is the dye test i had the other day, in which a radiologist shoots contrast solution into the uterus to make sure the tubes are open for business. this is pretty much the first quasi-invasive infertility treatment a doctor will order, because no one’s getting pregnant if their tubes are blocked. it functions as a treatment as well as a diagnostic–in some cases, the force of the dye will clear minor blockages. studies have been done indicating that pregnancy is twice as likely after an HSG, just because it “clears out the cobwebs,” so to speak. the average couple has a 20% chance of getting pregnant in any given cycle. an HSG can boost that chance up to 40%. it remains to be seen if it will work for me, but i’m keeping all my fingers & toes crossed & praying to a photograph of my friend jessika rae, who is my own personal fertility goddess. (she was sleeping on my couch the last time i got pregnant.)

preseed this is a “personal lubricant,” as it were, that was specifically designed to enhance fertility. supposedly other lubes contain some weird junk that can kill or maim sperm. preseed doesn’t have that stuff in it. it mimics a lady’s natural fertile mucus. it can be purchased at some drugstores & online (amazon sells it). it can be especially helpful to women that are on clomid because clomid is an anti-estrogen, & as such, it can dry up natural cervical mucus. mucus is important because it creates a home for sperm while they are hanging around, waiting for the egg to put in an appearance. a lack of cervical mucus, or hostile cervical mucus, kills the sperm off faster. sperm can live for as long as five days in fertile cervical mucus or a reasonable fascimile thereof. & you know, sometimes it makes sex more fun.

soft cups these can be purchased pretty much anywhere–i got mine at the grocery store. they are soft flexible cups that go into the vagina & cup the cervix. they are sold as a menstrual alternative to pads & tampons, but some ladies like to use them after sex/insemination to help hold the sperm up near the cervix. i have heard ridiculous stories of women using tampons to achieve this same effect. ladies! don’t use tampons! i understand the fear that all the sperm is just going to leak out before it gets where it needs to go, but…tampons?! they’ll just soak the sperm up & kill them with all their bleach & dioxin! if you are really worried about the sperm falling out of you (which shouldn’t be too much of a concern–most of the sperm that are going to go anywhere are up & inside the cervix within sixty seconds of ejaculation), try a soft cup. as an added bonus, they are insanely comfortable. i have a keeper too, but i hate it because it’s all rubbery & pointy. soft cups are the bomb. you can’t even feel them. (although they are not reusable & the keeper is.)

hydration it’s always important to stay hydrated, but especially around ovulation. if you’re dehydrated, your body will compensate by not making as much cervical mucus. you want LOTS of mucus, okay? this is especially important if you’re a little older. over thirty, your body just naturally doesn’t make as much cervical mucus as it used to. so drink lots of water!

robitussin some women swear by this shit. they drink it around ovulation. it works as a decongestant when you’re sick by thinning your mucus so you can breathe more easily. it does the same thing with cervical mucus. it won’t make your body make MORE, but it will thin what you have so it will go a little further. i personally have not tried this, but it’s cheap & readily available at any drugstore, so i thought i’d mention it.

(to be continued again!)

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