FAQ time again, Chicks!
Let’s talk about ovulation and your basal body temperature. I know, I know, my basal body what now? This is your temperature when you first wake up in the morning, think of it as your body’s baseline. The way it works, basically, is that your temperature changes just before and then again after you ovulate. So by taking your temperature daily, and noting the differences, you can find out precisely when you’ve released that precious egg each month. The catch is you have to take your temperature at the same time, the exact same time, EVERY SINGLE DAY. Which some people think is too much work or too stressful… But, oh, let me tell you the joys of temping! Let me sing to you its praises!
Because, seriously, I fucking love temping.
Temping involves a pretty low tech solution to find out when you ovulate. All you need is a thermometer (preferably one that goes to two decimal places) and your own body! THAT’S IT! No peeing on strips, which you likely do enough of every month, no fancy tech shit required- just a thermometer. It behooves me as to why more people in the TTC community don’t absolutely love temping because it can be such a great tool! So, let’s look at things from all sides. Let’s talk about how you do it. What it’s looking for. And the pros and cons.
How you do it:
Starting around the beginning of your period (which is cycle day one) you start taking your temperature the moment you wake up. You can take it orally, or, you can take it vaginally. Orally wigs less people out but is actually less reliable. Did you sleep with your mouth open? Temp is wrong. Did you yawn as you woke up? Temp is wrong. Did you have to talk to someone the instant your eyes opened? Temp is wrong. Your lady bits are just far less gabby than your lips and so there isn’t the worry about random temperature fluctuations. So it really is better to temp vaginally, but to each their own.
So, you wake up in the morning, roll over and stick your thermometer in your hoo-haa. Wait till it beeps and then record the temperature. You can use a paper and pen if you like to plot the numbers on graph paper, or, you can use one of the fabulous fertility tracker aps that are available. I used Fertility Friend for the full 3 years I was trying and found it helpful and easy to use (no affiliation, just straight love). Once it is recorded you get up and go about your day! See? SIMPLE! Except it has to be within 20 min of your regular wake up time. So, if during the week you wake up at 6? Then on the weekend you better get that thermometer up there by 620, no later! Which is a bit of a buzz kill. What if you work shift work or have kids that wake up at all different times? Then it’s best to set an alarm in the middle of the night and take your temperature then. You need to have been asleep for 4 hours in order for your temperature to count as basal body temp- Which is the lowest point that it drops to (your body cools as it sleeps). This is why a lot of people hate temping. Because you have to be really precise. I’m a ridiculously Type A kind of person so that’s less of a problem for me and is more like a challenge lol. So why does it need to be so precise? Because you are measuring very slight shifts in temp.
What it’s looking for:
In short, temping is looking for a change in your temperature first thing in the morning. You will have a small range of temperatures before you ovulate that are low ish, then a dip to a lower temp the day that you ovulate, and then after your temperature should shoot up noticeably and then stay in a higher temperature range until it drops off again when you start your period.
In a perfect world it looks like this:
So, by taking your temperature religiously you can detect these shifts in temperature and pin point the exact day that you ovulated! Amazing… but it only works in hind sight lol. That’s because you are looking for a TREND in temperatures. One or two high days or low days does not SIGNAL approaching ovulation, but after 3 days of higher temperatures you can then be pretty certain that you did ovulate. This is one of those things that works best if you really dive in and commit. Commit to doing it at the same time every day and not missing any. Commit to doing it for at least 3 months so you get to know the way your body works. Because your watching for trends for what a normal (regular) chart for you looks like. You can google BBT charts and come up with thousands of galleries to obsess over, but you should be most interested in the trends in your own. The more you know what your chart usually does, the more likely you are to be able to pick out an approaching ovulation and then have your chart confirm it after the fact.
That’s why it’s a good idea to pair BBT charting with another method of spotting upcoming ovulation like OPK or cervical mucus. That way you will know when to start sexing like rabbits and then, once you’ve confirmed ovulation via BBT, you’ll know that you can cool your jets and enter the two week wait. That’s the other awesome thing about temping. Knowing exactly when you ovulated means you actually know when to start testing for a possible pregnancy. Oh, just wait till you’ve missed a period? Wrong. Even if you are regular like clockwork. Unless you know when you actually popped the egg you could still be testing too early (if you ovulated late). The “earliest” you should test is 9 days after ovulation, most test recommend waiting 14 days past for reliable results… if you have a perfect cycle, 14 days after ovulation would be the day you miss a period. Since most people don’t have text book cycles, knowing when you actually ovulated becomes more important! And if you are temping you may know whether or not you might be pregnant just by looking at the temps at the end of your chart. Do they start falling? Probably waiting on aunt flow. Do they stay up or even jump higher (tri-phasic pattern)? Might be pregnant!
- accurately notes ovulation
- allows you to better time pregnancy testing
- lets you get to know your body trends and understand your cycle
- if you have long or short cycles allows you to know when you’ve actually ovulated
- if you have PCOS allows you to know if you’ve ovulated
- lets you know how long your typical luteal phase is, might indicate underlying issue
- nice compliment to another method of tracking like opk or mucus
- can tell you if you are pregnant (temp never drops and never get your period)
- low tech
- many things can affect temping, like sleeping with an open mouth, or not getting a good nights rest
- can only detect ovulation in retrospect and can’t tell you when it will happen
- have to take temp at same time, every day, as soon as you’re awake
- can take a few months to get the hang of it
- can make you feel obsessed and neurotic about the temperature changes
- Dr. may argue its less reliable
All in all, I personally found temping to be a really wonderful tool in my infertility tool belt. I’m pretty high strung but I didn’t find temping stressful at all, though I know many people that would argue against it for that reason. I was always happy to wake up around the same time in order to know what the hell was happening in my body. It also gave me back a little tiny shred of control because I felt like I could make sure I had timed sex well enough and on months that we’d missed the boat I didn’t go as two week wait crazy. But that might just be me.
So, there you have it! Basal body whaaaaaat?! Hope that helped explain it.