Like many women, Sarah spent her 20s trying NOT to get pregnant, assuming that when she was ready, she would be able to conceive. But after experiencing irregular cycles her whole life, she quickly realized that her journey to motherhood wasn’t going to be as straightforward as she had hoped.
After being diagnosed with PCOS in her early 30s while having trouble ttc her first child, Sarah realized she needed a better way to learn about her cycle on her own terms and take back control of her fertility. However, she quickly realized that misinformation or “fertility traps” are everywhere, and needed a more reliable solution.
After doing her research into apps that work with PCOS, Sarah found OvuSense, which offered her “a window to help listen and understand my body better.” Around this time, she also founded The Journey alongside consultant gynaecologist Mahantesh Karoshi as a way to bring evidence-based research, experts, and the products that really work and are backed by science all into one place.
Below, Sarah shares her early understanding of infertility, and how her own experience has pushed her to help other women find the right information and resources as early as possible.
“We were not in business…”
I spent most of my twenties as most urban career girls do. Working out, going out and trying to climb the corporate ladder. I have always been very health conscious and my periods have always been on the irregular side, but I worked very long hours, with early starts in a high pressure environment. Plus, I’m a natural stress head. So, irregularity was to be expected... right?!
As an Investment Banker with a major interest in health and science I thought I was pretty educated about my body and health. Turns out, not so much! I was falling into some very common ‘fertility traps.’
Of course it was only when I got into my thirties and wanted to start a family that I realised that irregular periods and very long cycles are anything but ‘normal.’ Actually, it was one of my body’s subtle clues that something wasn’t right. Trouble was, I didn't know how to listen to them. Funny what they don’t teach you at school!
One of the biggest realisations I’ve had on my own journey is that your cycle is like a vital sign. Not only can understanding it better lead to predicting our periods/ovulation, but it gives us major clues into what’s going on for our fertility and health overall. Trouble is, it’s hard to know what gives us genuine insight. For me, OvuSense was one of the first things that gave me real, evidence-based and accurate insight. Honestly, it has been a game changer for understanding my body and fertility. I’ve become a huge OvuSense evangelist because of what I have learnt from it.
And here’s why:
At the start of my own fertility journey back in 2016 when I was trying to conceive for the first time, I did what most people do. I bought the ‘pee on the stick’ tests and thought that after a few months we’d be in business.
You can probably see where this is going....
We were not in business.
Diagnosed with PCOS
I actually count myself as very fortunate as the company I worked for provided amazing private healthcare coverage. I started to realise quite early on that something might not be quite right. Despite a GP telling me in my late teens that irregular periods were probably just ‘one of those things’. I was lucky enough to be able to go and see a specialist quickly. After a bit of investigation, she said, well: has no one ever told you, you have Polycystic Ovaries?
At 32 years old, a few months into ttc my first child I got the diagnosis. PCOS in fairness is a tricky one. You can have a lot of symptoms or very few at all. I was in the ‘very few at all’ camp. Irregular periods (and turns out late/no ovulation) were basically my only symptom. The doctor told me that a course of medication would induce ovulation and get me pregnant and sent me on my way.
But, something just didn’t sit right with me.
What was causing it? Was medication really the only way? What about addressing some of the underlying imbalances that were causing this? There were SO many unanswered questions and I quickly realised how much I didn’t know about my body.
Learning More About My Body For The First Time
For me OvuSense played a major role giving me real data to help me understand my own individual position better. After all, we’re all unique. It has also played a really important role helping me improve my fertility and I believe my health overall.
This was the very beginning of not only my own journey to learning a lot more about my body, but also realising how misinformed we can be about this type of stuff. This is why I started my business alongside Harley Street consultant gynaecologist Mahantesh Karoshi: The Journey (www.thejourneydot.com). The Journey is all about bringing together the latest science, evidence-based research, experts and the products that really work and backed by science all into one place. In order to empower and help people on the journey from conception through to the early years. Purely as my own experience made me realise there was such a need for it. I also realised how easy it is to fall into what I call ‘fertility traps’ which now I see everywhere....
What I quickly discovered on my personal journey is that there is a lot of information on the internet and it is very, very hard to know what’s accurate and what isn’t. There is also a huge amount of misinformation (and clever marketing). I learnt first hand when you have accurate information there is so much you can do to help your fertility journey and save time, money and heartache. This is the very reason I started The Journey. To bring information you can trust all together in one place.
Navigating ‘Fertility Traps’ & Misinformation
Ovulation is a major part of this. There is so much we are not taught about the really crucial biochemistry of our bodies at school. Things that are so important to help us pick up clues and things our bodies are trying to tell us. I am a massive believer that knowledge is power. After all, we can’t fix things we don’t know about! I have also realised that this is even more important in our modern times. As our lifestyles have changed and as we get older when we think about starting families.
Without accurate information, it is so easy to fall into these ‘fertility traps’ and I fell into many.
Speaking of which: the makers of the best known ‘pee on a stick’ brands don’t make a big point of highlighting the fact that actually these tests can be very misleading for those of us who have PCOS. It is based on hormone readings (LH). PCOS is a hormonal imbalance. So, often not helpful! I wasted a lot of time and money on this. It’s actually a huge bugbear for me. Similarly, the makers of other well known ‘wearable tech’ products for ovulation do not make it clear that again it probably won’t be too accurate if like me you have PCOS. Ironic really as we are the type of people who need it the most.
To me, OvuSense is a window to help me listen and understand my body better. It’s not just for people with PCOS however, it can be a useful tool for people who may be suffering from a short luteal phase (gap of 9 days or less between ovulation and menstruation). It can even give us clues that we may be heading into early menopause. Once again, it's about listening to the subtle clues our bodies are giving us.
Using MY Information to Make Big Changes – With BIG Rewards
I used OvuSense for the second time TTC and I could directly see the impact that my extensive diet and lifestyle changes were having regulating my cycle length and ovulation. After ttc my first son, I had gone to town with major diet, lifestyle, supplement and exercise changes. I also focused a lot on evidence backed ways to improve my egg quality which can be lacking in those of us with PCOS. Click on each for the latest evidence based science for more info! Even more important for me (as an investment banker - so very focused on the accuracy of numbers!) I knew I could trust the OvuSense data vs relying on an ‘algorithm’ to ‘predict’ or basing it on a hormone reading that I knew was out of sync or hard to read. It also wasn’t going to be swayed by my own error. Well, unless I forgot to use it of course!
Within three cycles of using OvuSense (and realising that I wasn’t ovulating when I thought I was) I fell pregnant with my second son. Something I think would have taken a lot longer (and did take a lot longer with my first) without OvuSense.
I genuinely and honestly believe this has played a huge role in helping me understand my body and condition better. My second baby boy is due in November 2020 which I’m super grateful for. I just wished I’d found OvuSense sooner!