8 Ways to Get the Most Accurate Basal Body Temperature
The key to successfully
charting your BBT is to take your temperature every morning, at the exact same time, says Dr. Stephanie Maves, a family medical practitioner at Franciscan Skemp Healthcare in Onalaska, Wisconsin. Yes, even on weekends and holidays, record your temperature at the exact same time. Take your temperature at the exact same time each day, before doing anything else, including talking, drinking, or eating.
“Record your temperature for the entire time you’re trying to achieve pregnancy,” Dr. Maves says. “Ovulation may not always occur on the same day each cycle, especially if you have irregular cycles. By tracking your temperature, you will begin to see patterns that you can use to your advantage.”
Use a Good Thermometer
While you can purchase a thermometer specifically to measure your BBT, a digital thermometer will work just as well, Dr. Maves says. Whatever thermometer you choose, take your temperature in the same way—orally, vaginally, or rectally—each morning at the same time.
Chart Your Temps
You can select from a variety of different charts to track your BBT. To keep it simple, make your own chart with plain or graph paper, Dr. Maves says. Put the starting date at the top of each graph and start recording.
Overcome Challenges and Record Those Too
You may face some challenges tracking your BBT, such as waking up at the same time every morning to take your temp. If you’re ill, go to bed later than normal, have a restless night, or drink
alcohol the evening before, these factors also may throw your normal temperature off track, Dr. Maves says. You can write a note when your temp may not be regular and the reason why.
Study Your Charts to Learn Fertility Patterns
Kara Holzer of Mount Juliet, Tennessee, tried to learn as much as she could about fertility patterns so she could understand her results. She often referred to
Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler. “I learned that many cycles, I ovulated very early,” Holzer says. “When our son was conceived, my BBT indicated that I ovulated on day number eight. His early ultrasound measurements and due date confirmed that early ovulation. If I had assumed I ovulated on the ‘average’ day number 14, it may have taken a lot longer to get pregnant.”
Holzer’s BBT chart also reassured her that she was ovulating. “I knew even though it could take a few cycles to achieve pregnancy, that all the signs were there indicating fertility,” she says. “It also helped me to see my body getting back to normal fertility patterns after the
Seek Advice and Support
If you have questions about your cycle, you can bring in your charts to show your healthcare provider. The charts can create a valuable record, Dr. Maves says.
“Online charting software and forums are good places to get help and advice if you have irregular cycles,” Holzer says. “Online forums also give you a place to discuss your temperature,
cervical mucus, and other minutiae of your cycle few others, probably including your partner, want to hear about in detail.”
Use BBT with Other Techniques
Noting changes in your cervix position and checking the mucus secreted in your cervix are other ways to track when you’re most fertile, Dr. Maves says. You can record the states of your cervix and mucus right along on your BBT chart.
When you’re not fertile, the mucous from your cervix will be light or sticky. During the days leading up to ovulation—the days when you’re most fertile—you will notice a lot more mucus. It will be clear and slippery, resembling a raw egg white. You are most fertile on the last day you notice cervical mucus of this thicker consistency.
Enjoy the Process
“Use BBT as a tool, but try not to get wrapped up in the details,” Holzer says. She points out that while recording your BBT, it’s easy to get a little obsessive about it. Since you know the exact ovulation day, you are tempted to start taking pregnancy tests earlier, instead of waiting until your period is “late.”
“Conception also can become a
chore, and charting BBT can make the process seem even more clinical,” Holzer says. “Instead, try to enjoy the process of conception.”
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