I remember the day when we went to the doctor as we were not able to conceive. After asking a few questions, she explained the course of action, which included some blood tests and something I heard for the first time, follicular scans. I never knew something like that existed and also this would be my monthly ritual for the next one year. I am sure there are many out there who do not know anything about follicular scans and have lots of questions about the same.
At the time of the birth, a girl has millions of immature eggs which are there in the ovary, waiting to be released. When a woman ovulates, it means one egg is released from the ovary and is available for fertilization. If this egg meets the sperm, and fertilization happens, the woman gets pregnant. The wall of the uterus to prepare for the pregnancy thickens, and if no conception happens the lining is shed from the body at the time of the periods.
There is a window of 12-24 hours after ovulation in which the egg and the sperm can be fertilized. Also, the ovaries release only one egg in a month. Thus, if you want to conceive, you need to have an intercourse in that period and not anytime of the month. If a woman has a normal cycle, she will ovulate between the 11th day of LMP (last menstrual period) to the 21st day. Though, this is standard but each woman can have her own cycle. Thus, the doctors like to track ovulation when they are treating the patients for fertility issues. For any body who is trying to conceive, knowing the day of ovulation helps a lot. There are ovulation kits available in the market, but doctors advise folliculometry or transvaginal ultrasound follicular study.
A follicular study is a series of ultrasounds that are done to understand the window in which the woman will ovulate. The scans start around the 10th day of LMP and continue till the time the egg is released and it ruptures in the fallopian tubes. Any woman, undergoing a fertility treatment will need to undergo these tests every month. I got them for 11 months too.
Essentially, follicular scans are ultrasounds where the follicles in the ovaries are studied by taking pictures of the reproductive system. A small plastic instrument which is clean and hygienic is inserted in the vagina. Doctors use a condom usually to maintain the highest safety standards and a gel is used to ensure no pain. The patient has to lie down while the scan is carried and as there are no clothes worn below the waist, the patient is covered with a sheet. The doctor carries the scans and they follow the growth of the egg. By doing this, they can estimate when the egg will be released and when it will rupture, helping couples plan the intercourse. This increases the chances to conceive. The eggs and the endometrial lining are studied in the scans and this also helps in planning treatments like IUI and IVF.
Doctors suggest these scans in the following scenarios:
Follicular study scans are painless and are done in about 5-10 minutes. The doctors follow the growth of the follicle and thus, they suggest the frequency. Depending on the size, they repeat the scans alternate days and daily when the follicle seems ready to rupture. There are no side effects but it can be a stressful and taxing time for the couple who is trying to get pregnant. As the doctors give the window to have an intercourse, sex becomes very mechanical and there is immense pressure on both the partners.
I have been there and done that, and thus, I know the effect these scans can have mentally. There are other devices too which can chart ovulation, but these scans are the most accurate way. The couples should take this as a tool which can help them and not a dictator in their relationship. Enjoy your time together and do not be obsessed about making a baby. Everything happens at the right time.
“Timing is everything, if it is meant to be it will be. Everything happens at the right time for the right reasons.”