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Basal Body Temperature: Why It's Important for Tracking Ovulation

September 21, 2021

Basal Body Temperature: Why It's Important for Tracking Ovulation

What is Basal Body Temperature (BBT)

Have you ever considered tracking your basal body temp?

After a few months of trying to conceive, you might start to wonder what you can do to improve your chances of getting pregnant.

You also might be exploring how to use basal body temperature as a way to avoid pregnancy.

Charting your basal body temperature (BBT), a key fertility indicator, is one common way to track your ovulation and it will help you to understand when you are most fertile each month.

But, if learning to identify your fertility window seems daunting, know that you are not alone.

The daily task of charting your BBT as a method of tracking ovulation can be simplified if you have the right tools at your bedside.

Understanding Your BBT

According to the University of Michigan Medicine Center basal body temperature (BBT) is your body's temperature when at rest.

Tracking your BBT is a part of most fertility awareness based methods, which encompasses both natural family planning (NFP) and fertility awareness methods (FAM). We also recommend tracking your cervical fluid and, if you choose to, your cervical position, to better understand your fertile window. 

BBT fluctuates throughout your menstrual cycle each month. According to Our Bodies Ourselves, "The important concept to understand is your pattern of low and high temperatures. Your temperatures before ovulation fluctuate in a low range, and the temperatures after ovulation fluctuate in a higher range."

Chart displaying temperatures which are higher after ovulation

It's important not to get hung up on day-to-day changes. Instead you should look for overall trends in low and high temperatures.

What you'll see is that your basal body temperature usually rises within a day or so after ovulation to indicate that ovulation has occurred. However, it is important to note that some factors may influence your BBT. For example,  having a fever, alcohol use, and using a heated blanket or air-conditioning.

If you are trying to conceive or avoid pregnancy, you will want to start tracking your BBT daily. You can then record the temperature on a paper chart or in a fertility tracking app like Tempdrop or Ovuview (Ovuview automatically syncs with Tempdrop).

Ultimately, tracking your basal body temperature and reviewing your charts, you will start to see temperature patterns that will help you identify your fertility window each month and understand when you are ovulating.

Why Track Basal Body Temperature

Each cycle your body releases an egg (ovulation). Planning baby-making activities around ovulation may help you to achieve pregnancy more quickly. Likewise, you can use what you know about your fertility window to avoid pregnancy.

By learning to track your BBT you will have a better understanding of when your body is ovulating. After your egg's release, your BBT will rise and stay in a higher range up for the next 10-16 days. 

However, it is important to understand that while you cannot predict ovulation with temperature alone, you can confirm that ovulation has happened. You can also use fertility data from previous months to help you identify your fertile window. 

How to Track Basal Body Temperature

For some, tracking BBT comes with a bit of learning curve. But once you have the right tools it becomes second nature.

Traditionally, you would need to take your temperature using a special basal body thermometer as soon as you wake up, preferably at the same time every morning. A common digital thermometer is typically not sensitive enough to convey changes in BBT. To track basal body temperature, you would need readings to two hundreds of a degree, for example 97.71 rather than 97.7.

Using a basal temp thermometer presents many challenges, especially for parents who care for small children and have to wake up during the night to tend to them.

When Sarah, a woman who was hoping to get pregnant, first started tracking her BBT with a basic digital thermometer she often felt frustrated because she wasn't sure if she was getting accurate basal temps. Some mornings she would forget to take her BBT and other times she would fumble around in the dark trying to find her thermometer, leading to potentially inaccurate basal temps and anxiety about the accuracy of her charts.

Like Sarah, another challenge you might face when attempting to track your BBT is needing to take it at the same time every morning. Waking up at the same time every day isn't realistic for most people. Some women have found that to get accurate temps, they need to wake themselves up at the same time each day, for example, 4AM, take their temperature, and then go back to sleep until they would ordinarily wake up.

Doesn't sound like fun! These issues can introduce user error which reduces the accuracy of identifying your most fertile days each month.

Confidently Track BBT

One way to confidently track ovulation by recording your BBT and reducing user error is to use a Tempdrop.

Tempdrop is a first of its kind, a smart basal body thermometer that learns each woman's temperature fluctuations throughout her ovulatory cycle. Using it's clever algorithms it filters out any disturbances that would traditionally impact temperature readings (changes to room temperature, multiple wakings, poor sleep etc.)

You wear Tempdrop on your upper arm while you sleep. When you wake you remove the device and when you are ready you can sync it to your smartphone. You can then view the data reading in the Tempdrop app and also see it displayed in a chart and interpret your results. You can also add additional fertility signs and symptoms to the chart.

As you continue to chart your BBT you will gain a clear understanding of when you are ovulating on your unique fertility journey. You can learn more about how Tempdrop works here.

Why BBT is Important for Tracking Ovulation

In this article, you learned information that is essential for understanding your basal body temperature and why it's important for tracking ovulation.

Knowing how to accurately identify your ovulation signs by tracking your basal body temperature will help you understand when you are ovulating so that you can better understand your ovulatory cycle. It's one sure way to make your fertility journey more predictable.

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