Charting And Temping

If you've been trying to get pregnant for a few months with no success (or even if you're just starting out), look into charting your basal body temperature for important fertility information.

thermometer and fertility chart

Basal body temperature

Your basal body temperature is simply the temperature of your body at rest. More specifically, it is the temperature of your body after a good night's sleep and before you get out of bed, move, roll over or have sex.

In keeping track of your temperature and entering it on a chart, you'll begin to notice certain important clues to your fertility. The most valuable, of course, point to your ovulation date. Knowing when you ovulate will help you know when to take a pregnancy test; after a few cycles, you will be able to see the big picture of your reproductive health.

The importance of BBT

In the physiologic foundation of basal body temperature (BBT) lies a simple truth about hormones: Several of them are at play during your reproductive years, and they coordinate quite well to ripen and release an egg, and then to nurture your womb's lining in preparation for a fertilized egg. The hormone that helps you determine whether ovulation has taken place is progesterone. This hormone is responsible for raising your BBT just enough to allow for your uterine lining to become even more warm and inviting for that fertilized egg. By charting your BBT, you can usually determine when this has happened.

Temping basics

Buy a thermometer that is made specifically for taking your BBT. Your regular fever thermometer is not be quite as accurate as a BBT thermometer. A model that is backlit and beeps when done is best, such as this one from BD.

Quick charting tips

Remember the following guidelines when temping so you remain consistent and keep accurate charts:

  • Temp at the same time every day. Many women set their alarm clocks, take their temperatures and go back to sleep. (This is even easier if you have a thermometer with a memory function.) Even a half hour earlier or later may cause your results to be inaccurate and may render your chart unclear.
  • Temp before you do anything — especially before you get out of bed and use the bathroom. Just grab your thermometer and temp.
  • Don't eat or drink anything before you temp if you're using an oral thermometer.
  • Make sure you've had at least three or four consecutive hours of sleep before taking your temperature.
  • Keep a small notebook and a pen on your bedside table for recording your findings if you don't have a thermometer with a memory function.
  • Explore vaginal temping if you're mouth-breather or your temps vary based on the room temperature. Use the same method throughout the entire cycle, though; changing from one to the other will render your chart inaccurate.

Charting your temps

You can make your own charts with pen and paper — or even on a computer, with a program like Excel. You also can use the pre-made blank charts available in Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler. In addition to the charts, the book provides in-depth information on fertility, charting and making it all come together. You might also try using a software to help calculate your ovulation date.

More about conception

Signs of pregnancy
When to see a specialist
5 steps to making a baby

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