It's time to learn all those things they never taught us in health class - periods, pregnancy and pelvic floor!
I'm a women's health educator, a nerd when it comes to learning "all of the things", and my obsession is teaching women how to take control of their health and create a life they love!
As soon as we ovulate, the body starts to prepare for a potential pregnancy. Month after month, our menstrual cycle creates the perfect conditions for an egg to be fertilised so that when a long-awaited pregnancy finally occurs, you can get to work straight away growing your baby – long before you even know you’re pregnant.
In this episode, you’ll learn when the best possible time is to take a pregnancy test in order to get an accurate result. I’ll share the earliest signs of pregnancy to look out for as well as how to survive the two-week wait between ovulation and your next expected period.
Hello, and welcome to episode 27 of The Mana Women’s Wellness Podcast. I’m your host, Rachel and today we are talking pregnancy tests. When to take one and be confident that you’re getting an accurate result, the early signs of pregnancy to look out for and I’ll also talk about that tortuous 2 week window of time after ovulation and while you’re waiting to see if your period will arrive.
Now before we dive in today I want to remind you about my brand new Fertility Roadmap which you can grab for free from my website. So you can head over to today’s shownotes at fertilityco.com.au/27 and get your free copy of my 3 step roadmap to getting started with charting, understanding your fertile signs and how to use this knowledge to achieve or avoid pregnancy, whatever stage of life you are in right now. Because the beautiful thing about the charting process is that you’re tracking the same information, you just change when you have unprotected sex based on whether or not you want to conceive. So this is a life skill that you can use forever. And once you know what you’re doing, it’s impossible to not to pay attention to those messages your body sends you every day.
And some of the messages your body sends you and what you record on your chart will be your earliest signs of pregnancy, even before a pregnancy test comes back positive! So that’s where I want to start today.
We know that as soon as we ovulate, the body starts to prepare for a potential pregnancy. It takes about a week for a fertilised egg to implant in the lining of the uterus and over this time, the follicle that remains behind after the egg is released becomes the corpus luteum which releases progesterone. Progesterone is the hormone that desperately wants you to get pregnant, so it’s doing all it can to make the endometrium as thick and welcoming as it possibly can for that fertilised egg. This spike in progesterone levels after ovulation is one of your key fertile signs that you can chart. And you’ll quite clearly see a sudden spike in your BBT from one day to the next after ovulation as progesterone levels surge. This temperature spike helps you to confirm the day of ovulation and your BBT will remain high until your next period, when the body realises it isn’t pregnant, the corpus luteum breaks down and the body prepares to shed the endometrium and the unfertilised egg out of the body as your next period.
But what happens if you are pregnant? Well, your BBT will remain high because the body is continuing to produce progesterone. The general rule of thumb is that if your BBT remains elevated for 18 days or more, you are pregnant, because your luteal phase will be less than 18 days. So if you’re charting your BBT and you hit day 18, this is going to be your first real sign of pregnancy. You might even be able to tell before 18 days if your temperatures remain high more than 3 days beyond your longest recorded luteal phase. So if your luteal phase is usually about 12 days long, if your longest ever has been 14 days and you’re currently on day 17 of your luteal phase, well it’s likely that you’re pregnant.
Some women might also observe a second temperature spike around the time of implantation, about a week after ovulation, because even more progesterone is now being produced. This second spike is often less obvious than the typical spike we see at ovulation, but it can be seen if you chart.
So while charting your BBT is not essential to practice fertility awareness effectively – mucus is the key remember, looking at your temperature can definitely be helpful to confirm ovulation, potentially confirm implantation and it’s one of the earliest signs of pregnancy your body will give you. There are often changes in your cervical mucus around early pregnancy too, you might notice more mucus or you might feel wetter than usual, especially considering you will notice these changes in your luteal phase, when we’re usually quite dry. But often these changes can be too subtle to detect right away.
Some of the other early signs of pregnancy are:
These are all due to the changes in hormone levels in early pregnancy, which triggers changes in your cardiovascular system, your smooth muscle. As soon as that egg is fertilised, the body is working hard. And it’s those first couple of weeks of pregnancy – before you even know you’re pregnant – that is a significant window of rapid growth and development from just a tiny group of cells to the early stages of your baby.
And so, if your body is giving you all of these early signs, when can you confirm it? When should you take a pregnancy test?
For women with a regular or predictable cycle, a missed period is the most reliable and likely the first indicator of pregnancy. You can confirm pregnancy with a urine test as early as the day of your missed period. A positive urine test means you are around two weeks after conception and ovulation, or 4 weeks gestation, because we measure from the first day of your last menstrual cycle which is also the first day of your most recent period.
A urine test detects the pregnancy hormone HCG (human chorionic gonadotrophin), which is present in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and is likely to blame for your morning sickness. Your results will depend on the sensitivity of the test as well as the amount of HCG your body produces, so a negative test may not be 100% accurate, depending on how far along you are and your level of hormones. I’ve heard of lots of women who are 100% confident that they are pregnant, even though multiple pregnancy tests have told them otherwise. If you suspect you are pregnant but you have a negative test, wait a week and test your urine again, or see your doctor for a blood test.
A blood test can be done as early as 10 days after ovulation, just after implantation. This is handy for those of you who are impatient and the suspense is killing you because a blood test will detect far lower levels of HCG than a urine test will. Urine tests only pick up HCG hormone once it reaches a certain level, while blood tests can detect any level of HCG.
We’ve talked a little already about false negatives, and the most common reason that this happens is that the test is taken too early, before the egg has had the chance to implant in the endometrium and actually start producing HCG, or implantation may have already happened, but HCG levels are still too low to be detected by a urine test.
But what about a false positive? They can happen if you’ve been given an HCG injection to help induce ovulation because your HCG levels are higher than average. You might also get a false positive if the fertilised egg implanted long enough to release a small amount of HCG before detaching from the endometrium. Other possible reasons for a false positive and presence of HCG may be due to fertility drugs, tumour in the pituitary gland, excess protein in your urine or blood and onset of menopause. If you have a positive pregnancy test but don’t see any other signs of pregnancy within a few weeks, it’s worth taking another test or getting a blood test to confirm whether you are actually pregnant.
Like I said earlier, the two week wait is that window of time after having sex while you’re waiting for your body to do its thing and actually get pregnant. It’s the time between ovulation and your next period. It can be frustrating and stressful for women trying to conceive and there are a hell of a lot of questions and what if’s floating around your brain. Whether you’re going through fertility treatments, assisted reproduction or trying to conceive naturally, waiting sucks. We are the queens of instant gratification these days and to have to wait 2 whole weeks for answers is a slow form of torture. So I want to share with you my top tips for surviving the 2 week wait and keeping your sanity as best you can.
My first piece of advice is to stop obsessing.
Please don’t hit me.
I know that’s a lot to ask but over-analysing every possible tiny symptom for 2 weeks straight is going to drive you insane! I’ve had some women DM me and describe their symptoms for that day and ask me so am I pregnant or not? And honestly it drives me crazy so I cannot even imagine how crazy these beautiful women are making themselves! Just because you feel pregnant doesn’t mean you are.
Remember that our bodies basically go through the first 2 weeks of pregnancy with every single menstrual cycle, because the body thinks it’s pregnant every menstrual cycle. So a lot of those early signs and symptoms you think you’re feeling might just be due to the typical hormone changes we experience during our luteal phase. Remember the luteal phase is when we get sore boobs, cramps, headaches, mood swings, food cravings…all those fun PMS type things that are also signs of early pregnancy. So please don’t over-analyse. Some women don’t realise they’re pregnant for like 2-3 months so your early pregnancy symptoms don’t have to be significant and dramatic.
Go easy on the pregnancy tests too. If you keep taking them every day just in case before your period is even late, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Some women don’t even get a positive test on the day of their missed period, as we now know is all due to hormone levels. So a false negative is making you feel disappointed and crappy for no good reason. I don’t want you falling down the rabbithole of Googling whether or not pink or blue dye tests are more accurate because you think maybe you see a bit of a darker line on the pink one, so you just need to make sure. So I want you to wait until your period is at least 1 day late, no earlier than this! You’re not going to find out any faster, you’re wasting your money and you’re going to get dehydrated from all of the weeing.
My next piece of advice is to keep busy.
Distractions are the best thing ever when you’re waiting for something. If you don’t distract yourself with movies, dinners, catching up with friends, living your life…those two weeks are going to drag on and on until they feel like 2 years! I don’t care how you fill your time, but fill it with something that gives you flow and keeps you as busy and distracted as possible.
Even better, do things that relax you. Calm your anxiety and empty those thoughts flying around in your head. Read a book, have a bath, go for a walk, nap while you still can. Journal and write out all those
Finally – Schedule worry time.
It might sound weird, but if you make time to focus on your worry, you might not be consumed by it all day every day. Put pen to paper and journal on the things you’re focusing on – your fears, your worries, the questions you keep asking yourself. Get it down on paper and if you need to talk to someone – your doctor, a loved one, a counsellor – do it! Talk about the worst case scenarios and make a plan for how you would tackle them if they actually happened. Then you’ve already thought about it if they do – and they usually don’t. Schedule 10 minutes a day and spend this time focusing only on this. Over analyse your chart and look for possible signs, count down the days until you can actually take a reliable pregnancy test, and if you must, Google away. Make time to worry, then move on with your day.
Let’s wrap things up now and recap what we covered in this episode.
We talked about the earliest signs of pregnancy, focusing on the changes in your BBT that you’ll pick up if your charting your body’s fertile signs as well as other early signs of pregnancy. But don’t focus too much on these early signs as remember, we experience hormone changes every month after ovulation while the body is preparing for implantation and a potential pregnancy.
We talked about when to actually take a pregnancy test to get the most accurate results, as well as reasons why you might be getting a false negative, or less commonly, a false positive.
Finally, we talked about the two week wait – that hellish time between ovulation and your next expected period and I shared my top tips for staying sane during this time.
If you learnt something new or found value in today’s episode, I’d love to hear from you! Send me an Instagram DM and let me know the earliest signs of pregnancy that you experienced. Did you get a false negative even though you knew without a doubt that you were pregnant? Or were you a late period or a couple of months in kind of girl. And I want to hear your top tips for staying sane during your two week wait. As always if you have any questions or want to chat about all things women’s health, please get in touch and let me know what you’d love to hear more of in the podcast.
You can get today’s shownotes with everything I talked about in this episode, as well as links to freebies and other related episodes at fertilityco.com.au/27.
Don’t forget you can also download your copy of the Free fertility Roadmap over on the blog too.
I will see you in next week’s episode, where I will be joined by a special guest.
Ok, bye for now and don’t forget that knowledge is power!
When you truly understand your body, you are empowered to make informed decisions and take control of your health!
Until next time.
Want to say goodbye to hormonal contraceptives and their weird and unpleasant side effects?
Want to improve your chances of conceiving quickly and naturally?
You need my Fertility Roadmap– My simple 3-step system to understanding your body’s natural fertile signs and pinpointing ovulation day so that you can use this knowledge to achieve (or avoid) pregnancy.
Does your pelvic floor need a little extra TLC? Take the Pelvic Floor Quiz and find out how to start strengthening your pelvic floor today!
Want to make sure you’re exercising safely during your pregnancy? Get your Free Guide: 10 Exercises to Avoid During Pregnancy.
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