Surfing for Semen

I was thrilled when he called and said we were on for tomorrow.  So I jumped on a plane and headed to Queensland’s sunny Gold Coast.  My Latin lover was already there waiting and I couldn’t get there fast enough.  He’d scattered crimson rose petals all over the crisp white floor tile and on the white satin sheets that sparkled like diamonds on the freshly made bed. The curtains swayed slowly as the warm, salty, sea breeze wafted through the window on this balmy afternoon. I barely had a moment to breathe it all in before his head was between my legs.

Very softly, he told me to relax and then propped me up a little, then he inserted a clamp.  In that very instant, and with that ripping sound effect as loud as a thundercloud above, my charming Latin lover vanished, and I was left face taut and legs spread for my 60 odd-year-old IVF doctor.

While I was shocked back to reality, at least he was armed with the sperm of a sexy, tall, dark-haired, green-eyed, 26-year-old Hungarian hottie, that was about to be squirted deep inside my cervix.  

I was 40 years old, single and classed as socially infertile.  How did I get myself here?

I could say my thirties were the years of racking up lots of travel mileage points, Facebook friends, happy hours and hangovers. While these were easy to accrue, marriage proposals were not.

At 37 I found myself in a relationship that I’d hope would last forever.  It was the one that  I had all my chips on the table for as it was in the most promising best of my last ‘fertile window’ days.  While I had pinned my hopes on this being the relationship that would take me out of singledom for good, it unravelled over the following two years and I too became unhinged.  

As the big 4-0 approached I completely came undone spending each night blubbering into my pillow agonizing over how on earth I could create a family. I was in deep caca with the hands of that ticking biological clock.

Months off the heels of that window waster relationship, I jumped onto online dating sites in a gallant quest to meet the one.  All this did was waste more valuable time and keep me from pressing forward with my own plan. Not only did I have to dance around my true desire, dating was slow, required squeezing into an LBD for an entire night of discomfort as well as around my dates weekends without their kids.  

Urgh, if only I could make my own baby!!

Pondering that thought and with a little further investigation I realized I actually might be able to and tottered off to an IVF clinic.  

Although unfortunately, it wasn’t surprising, the few IUI attempts I underwent all failed. The Hungarian hottie didn’t stick nor did the handsome blue-eyed chiro the month before.  I now either had to pull out the IVF big guns and harvest my eggs or get creative and find another solution.  I decided for the latter and threw myself at Dr. Google for alternatives.  When I first landed on a site for known sperm donors I thought I had stumbled onto the IVF underbelly. I was too fearful to take a really good peek around in case I found myself in some weird porn or body parts trafficking ring.  Knowing my luck, I’d have a SWAT team parachuting out of the skies and smashing down my doors within minutes.  

Hang on! Courageous, bulked up men in uniform landing on my doorstep in just a few minutes?!  Hmmm… there’s a thought!

Having scrutinized this path for a year and a half, the idea of finally heading in this direction had now penetrated me deeply and it didn’t seem so aberrant. In fact, using semen from someone that required no relationship labour, I could actually check out in the flesh and have a coffee with made insanely good sense.  So, I decided to take the plunge and see what it was all about.  With a tap on my keypad, white light began beaming out of my monitor and Beethoven’s fourth movement from his Fifth Symphony masterpiece rang out. Low and behold, before my eyes were dozens of men from all over the world happily offering their free baby batter to wannabe mamas.

  I took to a couple of sites sharing my woes hoping to catch a fella.  

“Single, 40-year-old, adrenal fatigued, career-focused woman who missed the

‘memo for motherhood’ seeks a strapping young lad’s fertile tadpoles”

“Must be tall, intellectual type, no chromosomal abnormalities, have top-notch winning swimmers and be within close travel distance.”

After just a couple of months and a few discarded swimmers due to not meeting the legal requirements, I got an agile one on the hook that fit my criteria.  He was actually a fellow middle-aged man whose uberous sperm could impregnate a nation.  A week later he handed me a bucket full of fresh swimmers that I launched as far into my uterus as I could.

The race upstream had begun.  I relaxed with my feet up on the wall hoping that one was limber enough to navigate my tightly knotted body’s ‘non-yoga-ish’ innards.

Then it was an agonizing two-week wait for the results to see if there was one lucky winner from the ‘great anti-gravity’ swim.  When Aunty Flo didn’t show up to her monthly meeting, it was apparent that the following day it was time to perform a home pregnancy test.  Another five nail-biting minutes later, it was finally revealed that one speedy tadpole had indeed been the victor.

So now I’m a middle-aged, single mother to be and I couldn’t be happier.  When I think to myself how did I get myself here?  Well, I stayed on my imperfect life path, that’s how.

Image Credit:  Pixabay

What’s Your Ovarian Age?

You might be freaking out by your ever rolling biological digits when you’re focusing on becoming pregnant, but perhaps letting go of that and shifting your attention to your ovarian age is where you need to let your head go.

As there’s a rapid decline in the amount of valuable eggs women have after 35, the AMH test is a way to figure out how many eggs a woman has left.  AMH stands for Anti-Mullerian Hormone and it’s a blood test which measures the amount of AMH in a woman’s blood stream.  This hormone is produced by specific cells, called Granulosa cells, which surround each and every egg in a woman’s ovary.  So obviously, the more eggs, the more granulosa cells.  And the more granulosa cells, the more AMH produced. As you can imagine this feedback is a quantitative guide to work out a woman’s ovarian “age”.  It also gives women the insight to figure out when to commence their attempts at falling pregnant if the results show they still have a chance.

Basically, your AMH levels starts high, when you’re at your most fertile age and as you get older, declines as your ovarian reserve does.

I had an AMH test when I was 39 and found myself to be a newly single sobbing mess.  I toddled off to my local GP and requested a bunch of blood tests as well as the AMH.  It was perhaps something I should have done while in my relationship but because I thought I had access to sperm on tap, it never crossed my mind.  These tests cost around AU$100 but varies from state to state.  For the piece of mind, it was well worth the dollars.

The results came back a few days later and gave me the reassurance I had a little more time up my sleeve.  According to Malpani Infertility Clinic,  I was in good shape. with a pmol/L of 29.  Sure I just scraped in to be in the optimal group but I was thrilled I was 29 again and relieved my window had not only not closed but was still at the top of their game.

Ovarian Fertility Potential pmol/L     ng/mL
Optimal Fertility 28.6 – 48.5    4.0 – 6.8
Satisfactory Fertility 15.7 – 28.6    2.2 – 4.0
Low Fertility 2.2 – 15.7    0.3 – 2.2
Very Low / undetectable 0.0 – 2.2    0.0 – 0.3
High Level > 48.5    > 6.8

It’s important to know that AMH levels do not vary with the menstrual cycle and can be measured independently of the day of the menstrual cycle.

Once I got my results, this didn’t mean I just got back to living as I was.  Sure, I’m a healthy person but there is always room for more self-improvement.  From that moment on I became even more diligent about what I was putting in and on my body.  Rather than buying kombucha, I started making my own.  I made coconut kefir, added more vitamins and even cut out whole wheat bread which is one of my greatest loves.

These small changes were super easy to do and were just the beginning of more that I gradually introduced week after week.  Before long my diet had shifted and I was in a much more fertile state.  Rather than focusing on the looming 4-0, I thought of myself as a viable and youthful, twenty-nine year old who from then on really looked after my eggs keeping them as nourished as possible.

Image: Pixabay

Who needs Dairy When There’s Garlic Cashew Cheese?!

A delicious alternative to cheese!!

What you need:

  • Raw cashews soaked in filtered water overnight (soaking is optional) – 2 cups
  • Filtered water as needed for desired consistency 1/4 cup – 1/2 cup
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice 1/4 cup
  • Nutritional yeast 1/2 cup
  • Fresh garlic minced (depending on preference) 2  cloves
  • Agar Powder 1 tsp (optional)
  • Celtic sea salt 1 tsp
  • Granulated garlic (optional) 1 tsp
  • Freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley (optional) 1 Tbsp

What to do:

Rince the cashews and place them with, nutritional yeast, 1/2 of the water, 1/2 of the lemon juice, garlic and sea salt in the food processor and pulse until roughly blended.

Gradually add more lemon juice, garlic and salt to taste. I have listed granulated garlic as optional. I find this is a nice touch if you like a garlicky cheese.

Transfer the cheese to a bowl, and stir through the parsley if using.

The more water you add, the milkier and thinner the cheese will become. Add less water for a thicker, more rustic cheese.

That’s it. Yes it’s this simple!!!!

*Agar Agar powder is a vegetarian gelatine substitute, produced from a sea vegetable. Flavourless and odourless, used as a thickening agent. If you want your cheese to be sliceable then use agar.


Image credit:  Pixabay

Humble H2O is essential to optimal health

If ever there were a magic potion for health and weight loss, water would be it. It is the body’s most non-negotiable nutrient.

Next to oxygen, pure water is the most vital factor to life. Our bodies are made up of around 75% water and every cell, organ and system requires water to function properly.

It plays an integral role in nearly every biological process in the body. We need it for so many functions from controlling our body’s thermostat for blood pressure regulation, helping distribute nutrients to every cell to taking out the trash.

Water is so crucial that we can’t live for more than a few days without it, making it an even more important nutrient than food. Without water, the blood thickens and the body’s enzymatic processes get bogged down. If you refrain from drinking water over a few days the blood gets so gluggy that the body’s inner workings come to a rapid stop. After that, odds of survival are grim.

While you never want to be in such a dire situation, it’s not uncommon for many typical health problems and diseases to erupt due to insufficient hydration. Headaches, irritability and constipation are just a few of the more obvious conditions that indicate dehydration where the body needs more H2O.

Some telltale signs of dehydration include:
– Little or no urine, or urine that is darker than usual
– Dry, sticky mouth
– Sleepiness or fatigue
– Extreme thirst
– Confusion
– Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
– No tears when crying

Here are some more reasons why you want to ensure you are drinking enough water:
– Water supports weight loss by naturally suppressing appetite and helping body metabolize stored fat
– It aids in detoxification, helping the kidneys and liver rid the body of excess waste
– Is a natural laxative, maintaining proper bowel function
– Is a natural diuretic, key to reducing fluid retention
– Prevents dehydration
– Helps to maintain proper muscle tone
– Helps to cushion joints
– Aids in immune support, helping the body resist sickness

Tips for staying hydrated

– Keep a bottle of water with you during the day. Consider carrying a reusable or filtered aluminium water bottle and filling it from the tap rather than purchasing bottled water, which is expensive and creates plastic bottle waste.
– Add some fresh fruit, berries, herbs or even cucumber to give your water some flavour
– Drink water before, during and after exercise.
– Start and end your day with a glass of water.
– When you’re feeling hungry, drink water. The sensation of thirst is often confused with hunger. True hunger will not be satisfied by drinking water. Drinking water may also contribute to a healthy weight loss plan, as some research suggests drinking water will help you feel full.
– Drink on a schedule if you have trouble remembering to drink water. For example, drink water when you wake up; at breakfast, lunch and dinner; and when you go to bed. Or drink a small glass of water at the top of each hour.
– Drink water when you go to a restaurant. Not only does it keep you hydrated, but you’ll eat less too. Not to mention it’s also free!

Water is one of the most basic needs for our body; keeping it your body hydrated with fresh, clean water is one of the easiest and best things you can do for your health. Drink up!

Image:  Pixabay

Herbs and spices give metabolism a good kick

Fight those extra pounds by ditching “carbage” which is a fabulous trendy word meaning ‘carbohydrate garbage’. It refers to all the high starch foods such as the main five whites – white rice, pasta, bread, potatoes, sugar and we’ll even throw salt into the mix! By eliminating these low nutritional foods from your diet and incorporating blood sugar-stabilizing spices at every meal your energy will soar while the needle on the scales will head in an anti-clockwise direction. We love that!

Once you’ve said goodbye to the white culprits you can then say hello to this gorgeous colored, spicy and tasty lot:

Cayenne pepper – this certainly brings some heat with it to meals and it can also melt away fat and suppress appetite. Capsaicin, the compound that gives peppers their heat, may help fight obesity by decreasing calorie intake, shrinking fat tissue, and lowering blood fat levels, as well as fight fat buildup by triggering beneficial protein changes in your body. Part of the benefit may be due to capsaicin’s heat potential, as it is a thermogenic substance that may temporarily increase thermogenesis in your body, where your body burns fuel such as fat to create heat, with beneficial impacts on metabolism and fat storage.

Turmeric – Turmeric is the gorgeous yellow-orange spice that forms the foundation of many curry dishes. Curcumin is an active ingredient of turmeric and it’s also the most thoroughly studied. It reduces the formation of fat tissue by suppressing the blood vessels needed to form it, and therefore may be a contributing factor for lower body fat and body weight gain. Studies have shown that turmeric increases the flow of bile in the stomach which helps to break down fat. Another way turmeric aids in weight loss is it helps fight insulin resistance and controls sugar levels. This not only keeps you from retaining extra fat but lowers your chances of developing diabetes. If you already have diabetes; it helps you control your glucose numbers.

Research has also shown that curcumin improves insulin resistance, hyperglycemia, hyperlipidemia, and other inflammatory symptoms associated with obesity and metabolic disorders. It just takes one teaspoon of turmeric before each meal to help your digestion break down the fat that can cause you to gain weight.

Cinnamon – reduces blood sugar and LDL cholesterol. This is the bad cholesterol of the two. High LDL levels put you at greater risk for a heart attack from a sudden blood clot in an artery narrowed by atherosclerosis. Studies show that cinnamon can boost metabolism and increase insulin levels, lowering the chance of pre-diabetes. So add a teaspoon of cinnamon and throw in a clove in your next coffee!

Piperine – This common household condiment is better known as pepper and can boost metabolism through its main component, piperine. Not only does black pepper improve digestion, it also helps burn fat at a faster rate. In fact, black pepper can use up the same amount of calories that you would burn on a 20-minute walk. Grind away!

Dandelion – Dandelions cleanse the body and slow digestion, making you feel full longer. Dandelions also rank in the top four vegetables for nutritional value, according to the USDA. Spruce up your salad with some flower power.

Mustard – Who knew mustard is actually a great weight-loss tool?

Apparently, a spread of this tasty stuff can assist in your weight loss goals as it can boost your metabolism, which makes you burn fat faster. Since mustard has zero carbs and zero fat content, making it part of your diet can go a long way in promoting weight loss.

Ginger – Studies show that ginger can suppress appetite, aid digestion, remove toxins and raise the temperature of the body to boost metabolism. Who knew it had so many powers?

Panax Ginseng – This root-like looking herb gives spark to your metabolism, helping you get rid of the fat accumulated in the problematic and burning calories faster. You may have them as pills or even put extracts in your tea, making it into a good weight loss herbal tea.

Cardamom – It is one of the most flavorful Indian spices commonly added to many desserts and spicy foods. It has the ability to boost your digestive system that prevents the formation of gas that bloats up your stomach instantly.

Garlic – This herb comes with magical healing properties, which helps in treating cardiovascular conditions, improves your immune system and curing a common cold to even fighting fatal cancer. Garlic contains a special compound called allicin that suppresses hunger pangs and boosts metabolism. It can keep vampires away and fat too!

Guggul – (Commiphora mukul) – This is a popular herb used in Ayurveda. Guggul is frequently recommended by Ayurvedic practitioners for weight control, in addition, to use in lowering cholesterol.

All of the above spices and herbs for weight loss mentioned are widely used in our kitchens, but when we are unaware of their amazing abilities we can overlook using them as much as we could. I mean how about whipping up a turmeric salad dressing or a ginseng and ginger tea? Dieting doesn’t have to be bland and by incorporating these super amazing spices into your recipes, no meal you make ever be labelled that.

Image:  Pixabay

Ovulation Monitoring & OPK’s

Ovulation predictor kits (OPKs, also known as ovulation tests) can assist you in identifying your fertile window.

There are a few ways to determine your fertile window. You could record your menstrual cycle, chart the monthly cycles of your basal body temperature, or study changes in your cervical mucus. Or track all of them.  It’s totally up to you.

Until I went on my own mission outside IVF to create a child I hadn’t even looked at an OPK.  My donor pointed me to a kit that he had had success with and encouraged me to purchase the same one.  So like any good abiding recipient, I did just that as well as counted my days.

Monitoring your body basal temperature involves taking your temperature every day with ideally a digital thermometer.  You just keep a chart and write down your temperature.  Your body temp typically stays the same so when you see your temperature rise you’ll know you’ve got an LH surge and it’s time action accessing that semen!

You could also follow ‘The Standard Days Method’.  It’s based on a fixed formula which indicates that women with cycles between 26 and 32 days long, are potentially fertile on days 8-19 of their cycles.

So when counting your menstrual cycle, day one starts on the first day of your period.

The most fertile days in your cycle are the days leading up to ovulation before the egg is released from the ovary. After ovulation, the egg survives for just 24 hours, while the sperm retains fertilising capability for two to three days (some docs even say longer) in the fallopian tubes.

My menstrual cycle ran like clockwork on 28-day cycle so I could easily follow my fertile window 12 days later for up to a week. It doesn’t work like that for all of us though.

Use the chart below to determine when you’re most likely to be ovulating.

There is another counting method called the “rhythm method”.  It takes a lot more brainpower requiring exact information about the last 6 menstrual cycles then making complex calculations every month to figure out the fertile days in your current cycle.

Now, you can’t overlook noticing the stuff that lands on the bottom of your knickers…before you were on this path you possibly just flobbed it off as bodily fluids being released.  However, when you want to get pregnant it holds lots of information in helping you make that possible.

Reading cervical mucus involves watching for its changes.

  1.  The first few days after your period ends may be dry.
  2. After a few days of dryness, some mucus may be ‘sticky’ or ‘pasty’ but not wet.
  3. The next phase will be creamy, stretchy or wet, but is not yet egg white-like
  4. The most fertile of them all is very slippery and stretchy.  It looks like egg white.
  5. After ovulation, fertile fluids will dry up again quickly and the vagina will remain that way until next cycle.

While you can monitor your ovulation with any of the ways I’ve mentioned above, they can be fiddly and require a little extra brain power.  This is why urine or saliva OPKs can be very helpful.  They’re a quick, easy and accurate way to predict ovulation in advance allowing you to pinpoint your fertile window from the very first month. Kits are available online, and at most chemists and supermarkets in the same section as pregnancy tests.

There are a couple of types on the market – one is a saliva test and the other is urine-based.  So you’ll either collect your pee in a cup or hold a stick under you as you pee or take a swab from your mouth and put it on a slide.  Personally, I preferred the urine kit as it was very easy to use and spot on.  Like many pregnancy tests, Digital OPKs use symbols such as a smiley face or lines to tell you when you are on your most fertile days.

Instructions may vary slightly depending on which kit you use, but in general, you should try to collect your urine after your longest sleep.  It’s best to collect your urine at about the same time every day, though this is not absolutely necessary. If you think you’re ovulating take another OPK later in the day and monitor it closely.  Just make sure it’s been about 2 hours between pee breaks as too much liquid in between will dilute your urine, which could make it more difficult to detect the surge. The symbol will show up if you’re in the peak of your window and some will flash if it’s the best possible time.

Standard urine-based OPKs cost betweenAU$16-AU$20 (Approx US$13-US$16 and£10 and £15 per cycle).  I definitely think it’s worth purchasing one expensive brand like the Clear Blue Digital and a cheaper one such as a pharmacy brand so you can use them together for a more reliable reading.

Image:  Pixabay

Healthy Glow Created By The Sun’s Daily Show

There is an intimate connection between the sun and health. Sunshine makes people feel happy. When it lands on our skin it feels so good. But did you know that sunshine can truly be “good medicine”? The right amount of sunlight can have healing and cleansing effects on the body. It’s an absolute necessity in overall health.

There are many benefits of sunlight:

It can positively influence mood and alleviate PMS symptoms in women by elevating endorphins and serotonin levels in the brain, leaving you with a renewed sense of well-being. Both men and women who receive a good dose of sunlight report less depression, better sleep, more energy, increased concentration and greater mental alertness.

Strengthens the immune system by increasing the number of white blood cells, helping to prevent sickness and disease.

Speeds up the elimination of toxic chemicals, including metals and pesticides and at the same time allowing trace minerals more accessible to the body.

Boosts immunity. Sunshine acts as a natural antiseptic. Research has found that vitamin D has been found to fire up our body’s defences. It transforms our T cells into killer cells, which seek out infections attacking our body. The powerful warm rays can kill viruses, bacteria, mould, yeasts and fungi on surfaces, including the skin. This helps to improve skin conditions such as acne and psoriasis and contributes to a healthy, glowing complexion.

Encourages healthy circulation. It also stimulates the production of more red blood cells which increases the amount of oxygen in the blood.

Lowering the risk of breast cancer and other cancers. One way it does this is by improving the function of the liver, helping it break down toxins and eliminate wastes that could contribute to cancer and other diseases.

Helps to balance hormones. Beneficial in the treatment of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, insomnia and bulimia. Stimulates vitamin D production in the body which increases calcium absorption and helps build strong bones.

Better sleep. Getting enough sunlight during the day can help you sleep better at night. If you are exposed to natural light during the day, it will increase your melatonin output at night. Melatonin is a natural hormone made by our bodies. It enhances sleep and slows down the ageing process.

Controls body temperature. When we acclimate to the warmer weather, our bodies start to sweat more efficiently. Studies have shown that sweating, our body’s natural way of cooling down and maintaining its core temperature, adapts to the climate. Our bodies can learn to acclimatise in just a few weeks to maximise its heat release.

Boosts eyesight: As we all know, it’s wise to wear sunglasses when you’re outdoors and especially so when near highly reflective surfaces such as beach sand and snow. Sunglasses protect your eyes from harmful ultraviolet rays and so too does vitamin D. Research on mice has shown their vision was improved and had fewer signs of ageing in eyes after they had been given vitamin D supplements.

Lowers blood pressure: It can take as little as 20 minutes of sun for our blood vessels release nitric oxide, the chemical that lowers blood pressure and in turn helps reduce the risk of potentially fatal heart attacks, blood clots and strokes.

Improves sex life: Sapping up some sexy sunshine can heighten the desire for sex in the bedroom, too. Sunshine kick-starts the male sex hormone testosterone, boosting it by 70%.

Get some sunshine on your body. It warms your soul and shines light into the darkest parts of you. It brings motivation, joy, and stimulates the entire system.

Image:  Pixabay