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TO START, I am all too familiar with the unsolicited suggestions of “You just need to do this. This is how I get pregnant,”
- “Just have sex. That’s how I got pregnant.”
- “Go on a cruise.” (Did that, by the way. Didn’t work.)
- “Try taking birth control. Oh, throw in a condom if you really want to get pregnant quickly.” (Yes, I was the sarcastic, bitter type of infertile. Not proud of it. It is what it is.)
This is NOT, “This worked for me, and it will work for you too.”
Infertility is so complex. There are so many factors. You start trying to conceive thinking it’s simple. It’ll take three months, tops. But it’s not. Thankfully, in our case, we were able to find what worked, and it worked again… and again… and again. I’m sharing it here in case there’s any chance it will work for you too.
I first learned about them six months into my marriage, shortly before my husband was due home from his second deployment. I was searching for a way to manipulate my birth control to move the start of my “period” (read: withdrawal bleeding) since it was due the day of his Homecoming. The only good thing about my time on hormonal birth control was the reliability of my period, but that was NOT a plus for me this time! Apparently, I was on the wrong kind of pill to be able to manipulate my period.
After days of searching, I learned about Softcups.
THESE WOULD SUFFICE.
My husband came home earlier than expected, so I never used Softcups for my original purpose, but from that point, I began using them for my period and never looked back!
In my years of TTC, I did a LOT of research since Anthony and I had decided not to pursue ART. I became a patient of Dr. Google. I could not tell you what I was researching on this particular day, but whatever it was, I did NOT expect to find this:
A thread of hundreds of accounts from women who had struggled for years to conceive
They all conceived within 1-3 months of using Instead Softcups! (Seriously, I have no idea how I found this because I wasn’t able to find it again years later after hours of research in preparation for this article. I did find something similar.)
Ah, yes. My old friends… except not so much those days because by then, using them meant I was on my period, which felt worse and worse each passing month. (I will say that using these for my periods while TTC made the monthly “Not Pregnant” reminders a little less blaring compared to using pads.)
The idea was that this menstrual cup would keep his *ahem* swimmers closer to where they needed to be for longer so they can do their job more easily. This seemed like it would be especially helpful in our case of male factor infertility, though surprisingly these women all had different infertility factors– male factor, female factor, unexplained– and had all tried all sorts of fertility treatments and methods for varying amounts of time (sometimes years) with no success.
I could not deny all these success stories.
I already had a box of Softcups in the bathroom. I approached my husband carefully, sensitively with another one of my kooky, crunchy conception plots. We decided to try them the next cycle. Finally, ovulation day came. It coincided with an all-expenses-paid art exhibition trip at a nice hotel. At least that timing worked out, right? We fought the whole time.
Still, we put the Softcups to work. Our new beacon of hope. We left the art expo with our marriage and hopes intact.
Two weeks later, my period was due.
BIG FAT NEGATIVE.
Days later, still no Aunt Flo. Big fat negative. One week late. Nothing. What the heck? Well, if I’m not pregnant, let’s get this show over with! Finally, two weeks late and 2.5 years into TTC, it happened. For the first time, that second little pink line finally appeared. Minimal squinting necessary. Cue ugly tears and praises to God. I was six weeks along with my first baby.
A week later, on another rainy day in Southern California, I miscarried.
It took some time for us to be ready to try again. When we were ready, we knew the plan. We had conceived on our very first cycle of using Softcups. Was that what did it? Was it just “our time?” Had all our other efforts finally come together to make us fertile? How could we ever know if it was truly the Softcups? I was mystified but just convinced enough to try it again.
Our second cycle of using Softcups, we conceived our firstborn child, Abel, born in August of 2016.
After all these years and all I learned about whole foods and health, I was adamant about breastfeeding my son. I knew this could delay the return of my menstrual cycle. Between this and the fact that we had already waited for three years to conceive our first, we decided to enjoy our son and see what happened. We didn’t use any type of contraception after Abel was born. It would be fun to see how long it would take to conceive naturally now that the pressure was of infertility was off.
Well, Abel began sleeping through the night at almost 10 months old, and my cycle regulated, meaning I was able to track my fertility again. I quickly contracted baby fever. We changed our minds about just “seeing what happened.” What the heck? Might as well start trying now.
The first one took long enough. What if the next one took years as well?
It honestly wasn’t the best time in our lives to begin TTC again with a cross-country move in the near future, but we knew enough by then to know that whenever it happened, the timing would somehow be perfect. We broke out the Softcups.
Two months later, I was pregnant.
THE NEXT WEEK, I MISCARRIED AGAIN.
I had a very different reaction to this miscarriage than to my first. Surprisingly, I was equally devastated, but in a different way. I also coped in a different way. Instead of needing months to mentally recoup, I wanted to be pregnant again immediately. This was not to erase or replace the baby I had lost. It was a complicated desire, but it became my mission.
I was still spotting when I felt the familiar pains of ovulation.
I immediately and obsessively began tracking my fertility signs. I mean obsessive. More than I ever obsessed when trying to conceive my firstborn. It consumed me. It dominated my every thought. It was unhealthy. I used physical calendars and virtual calendars and phone apps and note paper and the backs of receipts. I analyzed and overanalyzed all my data in all my free time. I strategically timed intercourse.
Each time, we used Softcups. Five weeks after conceiving my third pregnancy, I was pregnant again. One cycle with Softcups. My due date moved– it seemed– from April 7th, 2018 to May 16th, 2018.
Just in case you skipped to the end…
NO HARD FEELINGS. I DO IT TOO.
I got pregnant twice on the first cycle and twice on the second cycle using Instead Softcups. Again, this is not something that will work for every couple, but for us, I am a believer. I know there is a couple with an equally unique infertility situation for whom these will work too. I am putting my experience out onto the Internet for that couple so that maybe they’ll have a little easier time learning this trick than I did.
FOR OUR FULL INFERTILITY TIMELINE, head to the bottom of my About page.
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Had you heard of Softcups for conception? Have you tried it?