Remember the series I started a while back? It's been slow going, but I'm so happy to have another method post to share with you today! Thanks to Emily for sharing, and please let me know if you have PCOS and want to share your experience with your method of choice.This is *not* a method wars series ;); it is simply a way to show that you CAN use NFP even with irregular or, as I affectionately call them, "wonky" cycles. It does present extra challenges, but is completely doable. Different methods work for different people and situations, so it's wonderful that we have options! I will be sharing my experience with Creighton at some point and I have another STM post ready to be posted, so stay tuned!
My husband and I have only been married for 2 months, but I've been charting my cycles for over a year now. I actually started by using the STM method, but after 8 months of frustration and confusion over my cycles, I decided that wasn't the right method for me. I have virtually no visible mucus (which is a huge part of charting STM!) and was finding it frustrating to chart signs that I wasn't seeing. I was thankful that I started charting my cycles before we got married so I was able to feel a little bit more comfortable after our wedding. However, the changing and irregular cycles were proving difficult to my ability to accurately predict our abstaining days.
I had heard of the Marquette method from a few of the women in the NFP group but I never really thought much of it. However, when deciding that STM just wasn't for me and also knowing that I have little mucus to observe, I decided to try another method that wasn't dependent upon that observation. And being a technology nerd, I was happy to try a method that used some technology. And I wasn't trusting my own observations enough to make decisions about our family planning based on them.
Basically, Marquette method is using the Clearblue Fertility Monitor and the test strips to check for fertility each morning. I wake up, press the button the machine, and it lets me know if it needs a test strip or not. It tests the estrogen and luteinizing hormone in your urine and identifies 2 peak days during a cycle. It also identifies "high" days of higher fertility near peak day, which can also increase chances of conception. Since my peak days tend to be later in my cycle, it doesn't ask for a test strip until day 9, and then I test every morning until I reach the Peak reading. Like STM, after waiting 3 days after the second peak (4 days after reaching the peak reading), it goes back to low fertility. The monitor also uses an algorithm that starts asking for test strips around the average time of "high" fertility based on the last 6 cycles. Since I started 3 cycles ago, it starts on day 9. I'm assuming after a few months it will not start asking for tests until around day 12.
I also use the "Boston Cross Check" method of Marquette, which means I chart more than just the readings on the monitor. I stopped recording mucus readings (mostly because I hardly have any to read), and still keep track of my temperatures. For the most part, when I get my temperature spike(indicating ovualation), that is very close to the day I reach my "peak" reading. I like taking my temperature every morning because I was in the habit of doing that and it is another sign that I can keep track of.
While I've really liked the ease of the Marquette method so far, sometimes it is frustrating with PCOS. Last cycle I had 14 days of "high" reading and my "peak" reading came 3 days before my cycle. Talk about no fun! After talking with my instructor, I realized I didn't ovulate that cycle. I've been lucky to ovulate (or have signs of ovulation) every cycle since I started charting, so this came as a surprise to me. I realize as someone with PCOS, that happens sometimes! I've also been lucky to have pretty normal lengths of cycles since I lost weight. It was very frustrating a few years ago having 5 month cycles. The Clearblue Fertility Monitor is for women who have cycles under 42 days, so unfortunately it doesn't work for all women with PCOS.
I have also noticed that irregular cycles also lead to using more test strips. The test strips that go along with the monitor aren't cheap in stores (around 60 bucks!) but thankfully, Amazon has them for cheaper! I'm glad that I finally have found a method that I can trust a little bit more and that works for my husband and I. While having PCOS and trying to keep track of fertility signs is very difficult, it helps that I now have a monitor to help me beyond my own personal observations.
In the past few months, I've grown rather fond of the Marquette method and I am so thankful that I decided to switch to save my sanity. While STM may work for some women with PCOS, it certainly wasn't working for me.