If you are planning for pregnancy, knowing your basal body temperature, an indicator of your ovulation days can help you to be aware of the best days to try.
For most women, ovulation happens 12 to 16 days prior to the next expected period date. During this time a mature egg travels from the ovaries to the Fallopian tubes and is ready for fertilization.
But, many women suffer from irregular ovulation and menstrual cycle. So, for them charting the basal body temperature (BBT) has been considered to be very useful back in the 1990s. However, with the advancement of medical science, doctors use various other techniques to get accurate results.
What is Basal Body Temperature?
Our body maintains a relatively stable temperature throughout the day and BBT is our body’s coolest, resting temperature. According to Alfonso Del Valle, an OB/GYN at St. Joseph’s Health Centre in Toronto and medical director for ReproMed, The Toronto Institute for Reproductive Medicine, “it’s lowest in the morning before we even get out of bed.”
During the menstrual cycle this base temperature changes along with the hormones like estrogen and progesterone, and just before ovulation it spikes slightly high. If a woman can identify this mild spike, she can successfully identify the days she ovulates.
How can I measure it?
To get the exact measurement you must take the body’s temperature orally, using a basal thermometer. You should do it as the first thing after waking up in the morning, and even before your mind can think of anything else. Keep the thermometer handy so that you need not to step out of your bed to grab it. You can either maintain a chart like the BabyCenter BBT Chart or use a fertility tracking app like the Fertility Friend. While the chart is inexpensive, the apps can give you a graphical representation of your body’s temperature. The apps can also help you to identify the ovulation days by highlighting those days when your temperature spikes enough to indicate an egg’s release.
For both the cases to get a better reading you should take the measurement regularly for a minimum of three to four months.
Before ovulation, your BBT may range from about 97.2 to 97.7 degrees Fahrenheit. But the day after you ovulate, you should see an uptick of 0.5 to 1.0 degree in your BBT, which should last until your next period. (You may notice your temperature occasionally spiking on other days, but if it doesn't stay up, you probably haven't ovulated yet.) If you become pregnant, your temperature will stay elevated throughout your pregnancy.
What are the advantages?
Charting it for over a period of time can help you in the following ways;
It can help you to know the pattern of your menstrual cycle.
In case you suffer from irregular periods, by charting you can get intimation about your next ovulation dates in spite of not knowing your next mensuration dates.
What are the challenges?
Doctors nowadays do not consider BBT as the most dependable method to guide you towards your pregnancy.
Your body temperature might depend on a wide range of things including the food you eat to the weather. So, the mild spike can be due to various other reasons than ovulation.
BBT can only display that you have ovulated, it will not guide you as in when you will ovulate. As the temperature rises post ovulation, by when the fertility clock’s countdown has already begun.
Looking at the chart every day can be a cause of stress, which is dreadful when you are trying to conceive.
What are the other options?
To get more accurate results, you can use ovulation predictor kits. They give you an idea about your ovulation days and the most fertile days when you can have sex if you want to conceive. Hence, you can be well-prepared and avoid unnecessary stress.