ConceiveOnline.com: Any advice for managing impatience, and keeping your spirits up during what can be an exceptionally trying time?
Jean Twenge: In The Impatient Woman’s Guide to Getting Pregnant, I share 14 proven strategies to deal with the anxiety of TTC. One of my favorites is called “defensive pessimism.” It means expecting very little – that way, if the outcome isn’t good, you’re not too disappointed. And if it is good, you’re pleasantly surprised! My other favorites are natural strategies to combat depression – I summarize these in the book.
CO.com: You did a lot of research that unearthed new information about conception. What was the most surprising thing you found?
JT: I was surprised to find that the day of ovulation was not the most fertile day of the cycle. That meant that everything from OPK instruction sheets to the fertility monitor were wrong. But fortunately it was easy to adjust for this once I knew what the most fertile days were. I detail exactly how to do this in The Impatient Woman’s Guide to Getting Pregnant.
CO.com: What's the one piece of advice -- maybe something you wish you'd known, or had emphasized to you when you were TTC -- that you'd want to share with our readers?
JT: Don’t try supplements thinking they “can’t hurt” – they can. I tried the supplement Vitex (also known as chasteberry), which is supposed to help lengthen the luteal phase. It didn’t do that for me, and – worse – it delayed my ovulation. I later found out that other women have experienced the same thing.
When I was writing the book, I tried to find research on all of the supplements I’d read about online or in other books. Most of them haven’t been studied at all. Some that have – like l-arginine – actually decreased fertility. There are a few supplements that do seem to work, and I describe those in The Impatient Woman’s Guide to Getting Pregnant.
I also wish I had known that tests of egg supply don’t tell you much about natural fertility. When I was 37, I took a blood test (one looking at AMH and FSH) and had an ultrasound at a doctor’s office. Both revealed low egg supply (known as “ovarian reserve”), which I was told made it much less likely I would get pregnant. I was devastated and cried for days – it was like grieving.
But since then I’ve gotten pregnant naturally twice. During that time I read the medical research suggesting that egg supply doesn’t matter much for natural conception as long as you’re still having regular cycles (it does make a difference in IVF, however). I shared that with a friend who had also been diagnosed with low egg supply. One cycle, her FSH was 25. But that same cycle she got pregnant!
So if I had to do it all over again I would skip the tests of egg supply. It was so incredibly stressful, and apparently all that worry was unnecessary.
Jean M. Twenge, Professor of Psychology at San Diego State University, is the author of the brand-new book, The Impatient Woman's Guide to Getting Pregnant. She has also written more than 90 scientific publications and two books based on her research, Generation Me and The Narcissism Epidemic. Her research has been covered in Time, Newsweek, the New York Times, USA Today, and The Washington Post, and she has been featured on Today, NBC Nightly News, Fox and Friends, Dateline, and National Public Radio. She received a B.A. and M.A. from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. She lives in San Diego, California, with her husband and daughters.