Am I Ovulating? Your BBT

One of your very first assignments as a person trying to conceive will be to chart your Basal Body Temperature, or BBT. Let's briefly discuss why this is necessary, how it can effect your efforts at conception, and resources to help you become expert at your charting.

Your basal body temperature is one of the indicators, or informative symptoms, of your own ovulatory functions. As it is the easiest indicator to determine, it is also the first to be suggested by doctors (and required by insurance companies). Even women who have been unable to conceive for years will be asked to chart their BBT when they first approach a medical practitioner for help; while this may seem moot at that time, the practice of charting can be a real learning experience for most women ~ including the author.

A monthly change in your basal body temperature is one of the signals that all may be well with your ovulatory functions. As you may know, as progesterone increases, a slight increase in temp should occur. This change could be as slight as 0.5 to 1.0 degree elevation. Contrary to prior belief, it is now believed that once that temp rise has occurred, a woman may have missed the small window of opportunity to conceive ("Window of Fertility"). This leads to the importance of charting for several cycles in a row, to suggest a pattern.

Most medical practitioners will suggest a woman keep track of her BBT for a minimum of three months. The resulting chart (there are several online to choose from, but this one offers a chart in both Celsius and Farenheit, for many different spreadsheet/processor programs) should give you an idea of whether or not you are ovulating on a typically regular basis. It may also give you some idea of when your most fertile days are during the average month.

Specifically, you should use a basal body temperature thermometer, which is available at drugstores for around $5.00 to $15.00 and measures your temp in easily readable tenths of a degree. The first day of your period is considered Day 1 of your cycle; you will place an "x" on the chart for each day of period (not spotting). You may take your temp in any of the usual places (orally, under the arm, or rectally), making sure to do this for the same amount of time (around 5 minutes) each morning immediately after waking and before rising from your bed. It is suggested that you write down the results before going on with your day, to avoid forgetting it later.

Be aware that it is not uncommon for your BBT to be easily effected and influenced by a number of factors: physical activity, alcohol intake, amount of rest, medicines, etc. Therefore, it is important to make note of any and all of these factors when you are charting.

Understanding this very basic fertility-prediction method is a simple, yet crucial step in empowering yourself on your journey. Next, we will take our knowledge one step further and apply it to Natural Family Planning, a combination of methods used to enhance a woman's control over her reproductive functions.

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