with Basal Body Temperature
Are you trying to conceive?
If you've been trying to get pregnant for a long time (months, years?)
with no success (or maybe you are even just starting out) you may want to look into charting your basal body temperature for important fertility information.
Contrary to popular belief, BBT charting is not the most effective way to time intercourse for conception.
Your fertility is highest during the two days before ovulation and the day it occurs,
but your basal body temperature changes 12 to 24 hours after ovulation.
Since the egg only lives one day, by the time BBT indicates ovulation there’s little fertile time left to conceive.
What is 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 will begin to notice certain important clues to your fertility. The most valuable clue -- and the one that you will probably be the most interested in -- is your ovulation date. Knowing when you ovulate will enable you to know when to take a pregnancy test and after a few cycles you will be able to see the big picture of your reproductive health.
Why is this important?
In the physiologic foundation of basal body temperature (or BBT) lies a simple truth about hormones. There are several hormones at play during your reproductive years and they coordinate quite well in order to first 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 or not is called 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 -- an incubator of sorts. And by charting your BBT you can usually determine when this has happened!
How does measuring BBT help detect ovulation?
A woman’s normal non-ovulating temperature is between 96 and 99 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the individual. Following the release of the egg, BBT increases by about half a degree in almost all women. The hormone progesterone, secreted by the ovary after ovulation, heats things up; it also prepares the uterine lining for a possible pregnancy. Body temperature will remain roughly half a degree higher until right before menstruation, when it will return to normal. (If you get pregnant, your temperature will stay higher through the first trimester).
Getting started temping
You will need to look for and purchase a thermometer that is made specifically for taking your BBT. The reason that you probably don't want to use your regular fever thermometer is because it may not be quite as accurate as a BBT thermometer. One that is backlit and also which beeps when done are even better.
Amazon.com offers a good one here: Basal Digital Thermometer
Quick charting tips
You should make an effort to remember the following guidelines when temping
in order to remain consistent and to keep your charts as accurate as possible:
Charting your temps
- Temp at the same time every day. Many women will set their alarm clocks, take their temperature,
and go back to sleep (even easier if you have a thermometer that has a memory function).
Even a half hour earlier or later may cause your results to be inaccurate and may render
your chart unclear. We don't want that!
- Temp before you do anything, especially before you get out of bed and use the bathroom.
Just grab your thermometer and temp!
If temping orally, don't eat anything or take a drink before you temp.
Make sure, if possible, that you have had at least 3 or 4 hours of consecutive sleep before taking your temperature.
If you don't have a thermometer with a memory function, keep a small notebook and a pen on your bedside table for recording your findings.
- You can take your temperatures orally, but if you find that you are a mouth breather or your temps vary based on the room temperature you might explore temping vaginally. Just be sure to maintain the location throughout the entire cycle -- changing from one to the other will keep your chart from being accurate.
You can make your own charts with pen and paper -- or even on a computer, with a program like Excel.
You can use chart below. Good luck!
Getting an Accurate BBT Reading
- Take your temperature when you first wake up and are lying or sitting quietly in bed. You need to do the reading at the same time, give or take 30 minutes, every morning.
- Leave the thermometer on your night table before you go to bed so there’s no need to get up for it in the morning. Shake mercury thermometers down at night or dip them briefly in cool water. Doing the motions in the morning can cause a rise in temperature.
- Don’t eat or drink anything, even water, before doing the reading.
- Be aware of factors other than ovulation that can increase BBT: emotional disturbance, stress, a cold or infection, jet lag, drinking alcohol the night before, using an electric blanket.
- Don’t pull all-nighters: You need to have at least three hours of uninterrupted sleep to get an accurate reading.
Good health begins with taking responsibility for our own body.
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