Cycle monitoring is a service offered by Fertility Clinics. It’s exactly what it sounds like – they monitor your cycle and let you know when you will or have ovulated. In Ontario it is covered by our provincial health insurance, so it felt like a perfect opportunity for me to have some assistance, without much intervention, and without financial stress.
While there is no financial cost, there are others. Cycle monitoring means you need to show up at the clinic at least 3 times per cycle, at a specified time. In my case, cycle monitoring happens first thing in the morning. I have to travel across the city, so this is no small feat on the transit. In the winter, it’s still dark when I leave the house. When I get there, there are three places to sign in – for blood work, for ultrasound and to see the doctor. First come, first served. Once I thought I’d be smart and arrive right when the doors opened; there was already a line up. Luckily I am self employed. I can’t imagine the extra logistics around getting to work on time. Sometimes my door-to-door time is over 2 hours.
There are two types of ultrasound in cycle monitoring. The day 3 ultrasound which is external and requires a full bladder. It is a special treat to time your consumption of 3 -4 glasses of water to match when you think you might be called for your ultrasound! Then there is the internal ultrasound, where a wand is used to take pictures of your growing follicles, which helps to anticipate ovulation. That is a treat too – but I’ll write about that some other time in detail. Ultrasound results are immediate and you can talk about them with your doctor before you leave.
If you have ever had blood taken, or given blood, then this is a no-brainer. The only thing is, that you do it so frequently, your veins can get scarred (not scared, although maybe that too!). Bloodwork has to go to the lab, so you only get those results later in the day. They are looking for the surge in LH hormone which indicates that you are ovulating. After insemmination (however you do it) they check for pregnancy and progesterone levels.
That’s it. Two short procedures, and long waiting times in between. I am grateful to have the help, and have learned to bring work with me when I go, to pass the time. Between the follicle size and the surge in LH, the clinic gets a good picture of when you might be ovulating – as good as it can be when you go every 24 hours. But it helps to have a back-up, in addition to all of the things you can do on your own to know your cycle. More on that next.