Written by Paula Jones Last updated: September 12, 2007
Basal body temperature is the temperature of your body at rest. After ovulation there is small but distinct increase in basal body temperature, only a couple of degrees, which remains raised for the rest of the cycle…
Keeping track of when your body is most fertile can help in increasing your chances of natural conception…
Basal body temperature (BBT)
Basal body temperature is the temperature of your body at rest. After ovulation there is a small but distinct increase in basal body temperature, only a couple of degrees, which remains raised for the rest of the cycle. Charting your BBT over two or three cycles can indicate whether or not you are ovulating and when, in your cycle, this is occurring. It does not tell you, however, when you are about to ovulate.
Fertility temperature charts and clinical thermometers are easily obtained from a chemist. A digital thermometer is just as effective and often easier to read. The important thing to remember about temperature charting is to ensure that you take your temperature at the same time each day, before getting out of bed. You should not have anything to eat or drink prior to taking your temperature as this can affect the results. You should place the thermometer under your tongue for at least one minute. Once your temperature has been measured, it should be recorded on the chart. If there have been any changes to your routine or if you have got a cold or something else that could affect the results, this should also be noted on the chart.
What temperature charting will not tell you is when you are about to ovulate, although some women have experienced an apparent fall in temperature just before. The best time to conceive is by making love 12‐48 hours before ovulation, which is, of course, before the temperature starts rising. If your cycle is regular, over a couple of months, you should be able to get a good idea when you are likely to be at your most fertile, through temperature charting.
One of the clearest indications that ovulation is about to occur is the change in cervical mucus. Most women are aware that their body secretes more cervical mucus some times than at others. However, they are not always aware of its relevance to fertility. The cervix has cells that produce mucus, which has a twofold purpose. Firstly, it helps keep the vagina lubricated and secondly, it helps to carry sperm to a waiting egg.
Just before ovulation the body is producing oestrogen, which causes cervical mucus to become more watery and slippery, with the consistency rather like egg white. Sperm can swim quite freely through this type of cervical mucus and can survive for a comparatively long time. After ovulation the body produces progesterone and the mucus becomes slight, thick and tacky. As a result, sperm cannot move freely and die very quickly.
In order to check your fertility through your cervical mucus you should examine the amount, clearness and flexibility, each time you go to the bathroom. This can be tested either by inserting a finger into the vagina and observing the dryness or wetness of the tissues, or alternatively, examine the mucus by wiping toilet tissue across the vulva.
Urine tests for LH (Luteinising hormone)
Ovulation is when the egg leaves the ovary, roughly halfway between two menstrual periods. This process is controlled by the hormones from the pituitary gland: LH and FSH (Follicle stimulating hormone). FSH stimulates the follicle to grow to its maximum, before ovulation. LH then stimulates the follicle to open and release the egg.
Ovulation predictor kits are available from chemists and can be helpful in assessing approaching ovulation, however, they are quite expensive. They include five urine dipsticks, which can detect the presence of LH in the urine. A surge in LH occurs just prior to ovulation and once this is detected, you can expect to ovulate within the next few days. By timing intercourse for these days you can improve the chances for conception.
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