“I’m a planner,” said Kirkpatrick, 34, of New Rochelle, N. Y. “So once my husband and I made the decision, I wanted to get pregnant quickly. With the help of an ovulation test called Knowhen Saliva Fertility Monitor, Kirkpatrick was pregnant in two months. “Month 1, we tried, but it didn’t work,” she said. Doctors knew the definition: An egg (ovum) travels from an ovary, down a fallopian tube, in search of sperm. The timing of the egg’s journey, though, was a mystery. So incorrect fertility advice came from everyone from Plato (have sex once a week, he advised) to Aristotle (have sex anytime during the month but separate slowly afterward, and refrain from sneezing). Finally, in 1946, American physician George Papanicolaou (the Pap smear inventor) wrote that ovulation occurs two weeks after a woman’s period and can be identified by a fern-like pattern in the vaginal mucus. The “Day 14” advice still rules, even though timing varies from one woman to the next. “You may have regular periods but not ovulate,” said Dr. Jane Frederick, medical director of Newport Beach, Calif. “Or you may have no periods, then ovulate. A woman who is trying to get pregnant is against the clock because her egg supply decreases monthly. “You have the highest number of eggs — about 6 million — in your fifth month in utero,” Frederick said.
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