Guest blog by Katherine Bicknell, Co-Founder of Kindara, simple and elegant fertility charting for iPhone and iPod Touch.
My mom was one of the many women rendered infertile by the Dalkon Shield in the 1970’s. Her heartbreaking struggle, and eventual triumph over her infertility left an indelible mark on my family, and is the inspiration for my current life’s work.
The Dalkon Shield was an intrauterine device that was supposed to be a revolutionary birth control device. But it turned out to cause serious problems for many women. Before this danger was widely known, my mother briefly had one of these IUDs.
Later, when my mother and my father started trying for a family, they weren’t able to conceive. They tried for 10 years, with no luck. Finally her doctor was able to identify the cause of her infertility: scarring from an infection due to the Dalkon Shield was blocking the fallopian tubes, so her eggs were trapped, unable to be fertilized. Given new hope about the possibility of having a family, my mother had a five hour surgery to remove the scar tissue, which worked!
While the incisions from the surgery were still healing, she found herself pregnant with me! I was followed by two sisters and a brother. So my mom got the family she had waited for for so long. But those 10 years of infertility were full of pain and sadness, her stories of which left a lasting impression on me.
My own story: I had irregular cycles throughout my teenage years, getting my period an average of only twice a year. My doctors suggested that I go on the pill to “regulate” my cycle. I was opposed to this, as it didn’t seem natural, but I thought the doctors probably knew best so I started, and kept taking it the pill for the next 8 years.
Fast forward a decade: I was 25 and living in Pakistan. A friend of mine had just refilled her birth control pill prescription at the pharmacy, and I was curiously reading the information packet included with her pills to see if it was any different from the ones I was used to from the states. I was surprised when I read something to the effect of “If you have irregular cycles, do not take this product, as it could mask potential fertility problems and possibly make it harder for you to become pregnant later on” I was shocked. Hadn’t my doctors suggested that I go on the pill to “regulate” my cycle? I thought this meant the birth control pills were treating whatever was wrong with me, by giving me a “normal” period. But it seemed that this was not the case!
I decided right then and there to stop taking my birth control pills. I want the option of having children someday, and it seemed like the thing to do was to get off the pills and let my body have a shot at regulating itself. I wanted to avoid the pain my mother suffered during her infertile years: wanting a family, yet mysteriously unable to conceive. So I stopped taking the pill and never looked back.
It turned out the warning on my friends pill packet was right. As soon as I stopped taking the pill my cycles returned to how they had been when I was a teenager. I got my period two or three times a year. I looked around for what to do to regulate my cycle. A friend of mine told me how her sister had used the Fertility Awareness Method to learn about her cycle, overcome infertility and get pregnant. I was amazed at this story, and my friend lent me Taking Charge of Your Fertility, the book that helped her sister so much. I read the book and right away started charting to see what I could learn about my fertility.
I soon found charting my cycle fascinating. I learned that I have very long follicular phases (sometimes months!) and short luteal phases. I learned that my cycle seems to be affected by the climate I live in, (I don’t get my period at all during the cold dark winter months). And best of all I learned that even though my cycles are pretty wacky, I do actually ovulate. All this from recording my temperature and cervical fluid. It was amazing. I felt so empowered and wanted other women to have the same feeling. So I started my training to become a Fertility Awareness Educator. And in my personal quest to find a great, easy to use fertility charting software, my husband and I ended up creating Kindara.
Our goal is to help women everywhere have healthy babies when they want them. That means thinking about them long before you try to conceive. It means learning about your body, making sure your cycle is healthy. When the body is not at 100% one of the first things that can get thrown out of whack is the reproductive system. Though you may look and feel perfectly healthy, a fertility chart can reveal underlying issues that would be hard to find otherwise. I want all women to have access to the fertility story their body is telling them every month.
I don’t want kids just yet, but I sure as heck want the option to have them. With my crazy cycles, and 9 day luteal phases, it might take some doing for me to get and stay pregnant, and I know that. And because I know this I’m not in the dark, I have a tremendous amount of information about my body and my cycle, and when I’m ready to be a mom I have a roadmap already laid out of the appropriate steps to take. When I didn’t understand my fertility I felt scared and stressed out. Kindara aims to make it easy for women to learn about their cycles so they can get pregnant when they want to, and address potential fertility problems before it’s too late, feeling sexy and sane along the way.
Receive a free download of Kindara App through our Fertility Deals Site.