First, I’m going to be totally honest with you (per usual) I used to Google these questions ALL THE TIME because I just didn’t get it. Luckily, the community of women that I have met from this blog are all so incredible and got me started so now, I can share what I’ve learned with you! If you are a newbie to trying to conceive, look no further, here is your guide to tracking your BBT.
WHAT IS BASAL BODY TEMPERATURE?
Basal body temperature, known in the trying to conceive community as BBT, is your temperature when you are fully at rest. Meaning, before you get out of bed in the morning, before you shuffle around to cuddle your dog, and definitely before you get on your phone to check social media. (We all do it)
IS THERE A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A REGULAR THERMOMETER AND A BASAL BODY TEMPERATURE THERMOMETER?
For this question, I am turning it over to source that I trust, The Bump! According to an article on their website, which I have linked here, states “You can use a regular thermometer but it won’t give you results as accurate or specific as a basal body temperature (BBT) thermometer. BBT thermometers have a number of advantages. They’re speedy, durable, and accurate to a 10th of a degree. Plus, they can store your temperature if you want to chart right away.”
WHY SHOULD I TRACK BBT?
By tracking your basal body temperature, you can get a different insight on when you are ovulating. I personally don’t recommend tracking BBT and not using OPKs, because obviously two ways of tracking are better than one, but if you want more of an insight on your cycle, temping is a great way to do that! Instead of telling you when you are about to ovulate, your BBT more or less confirms ovulation.
In my journey, I charted my temperature for three full cycles and would show my chart to my acupuncturist and my OBGYN.
WHAT AM I LOOKING FOR?
You want to look at the patterns of your temperature, a peak in temperature will show that you have ovulated!
Make sure to keep your eye on your temperature post-ovulation because if towards the end of your two week wait, the temperature dips, chances are you are not pregnant but if it rises and stays at a higher than usual temperature, you may be pregnant!
WHEN SHOULD I START TRACKING MY BBT FOR THE FIRST TIME? AND HOW OFTEN DO I NEED TO CHECK MY BBT?
You want to start tracking your temperature on the first day of your cycle. You’ll take your temperature every single morning of your cycle at the same time. The best practice to get into is setting an alarm for a time that you know you’ll be in bed every morning.
For example, my husband wakes up for work at 5:15 a.m. on weekdays so I set my alarm for 5 a.m. (that way I didn’t risk relying on him or getting mad if he slept late which happens often) and I would take my temperature and go back to bed. Yes, I even did this on weekends!
WHAT IF I DIDN'T GET A FULL NIGHT OF SLEEP?
Don’t quote me on this, but I think you need at least 4 hours of sleep to get your BBT the next morning. But you also want to keep in mind that if you didn’t move much during the night and got the 4 hours of sleep, I think you’ll be fine. The point is to get your temperature when you are at full rest. But also, you can only do so much so don’t be so hard on yourself if you miss a day or mess up taking your temperature, just do better the next day!
HOW DO I KNOW IF TRACKING MY BBT IS RIGHT FOR ME AND MY FERTILITY JOURNEY?
The thing about BBT is that it tells you when ovulation has happened, unlike OPKs which can tell you a few days leading up to ovulation. That’s why earlier I said that it would be really smart to track BBT and use OPKs. I understand that it can seem like a lot but I found it really beneficial. I almost always ovulated on the same cycle day so for me, I didn’t really need to know my fertile days, instead I wanted to confirm that I did truly ovulate, which is why I tracked my BBT.
I think that every woman that is trying to conceive can benefit from doing this because it’s just another way to know for sure what’s going on inside that body of yours!
WHAT DO I DO WITH MY TEMPERATURE AFTER I TAKE IT?
You will chart your temperature, as the trying to conceive community calls it. You can do this in a few ways, on paper or use an app!
WHAT APPS SHOULD I USE TO CHART MY BBT?
Two of the most popular and user friendly, in my opinion, are Fertility Friend and GLOW.
I used Glow for all of my fertility tracking and always felt that it was pretty accurate.
WHERE CAN I BUY A BBT THERMOMETER? WHICH DO YOU RECOMMEND?
You can find BBT thermometers in most pharmacies! Make sure that it says “Basal Body Temperature” somewhere on it.
Here is the one that I used for three cycles and really liked, plus it didn’t break the bank! It’s only $9. I found it really easy to use, easy to read with little light (because I would make myself up at the butt crack of dawn) and it stores your temperature just in case you fall back asleep! The packaging also includes a paper chart which is always an option if you’d rather track it yourself and not on an app. If you are more interested in a digital BBT thermometer that connects to an app, the company that makes the thermometer that I like, Fairhaven Health, also sells one of the really nice ones that has it own app and tracking services. That one is linked here just in case you are interested, but I have not yet tried it!
RANDOM READER QUESTIONS
I asked ya'll for questions on Instagram and here is what I gathered!
“What do I do if I don’t wake up at the same time everyday?”
From what I’ve been told by both my acupuncturist and my OBGYN, it’s pretty important to wake up within 30 minutes (earlier or later) of the same time everyday. In section “WHEN TO START CHARTING AND HOW OFTEN SHOULD I CHECK MY BBT?” above, I mention that I always set an alarm to wake up. I know that it totally sucks to wake up and go back to sleep but trying to pinpoint the same time everyday, will help your temperature be that much more accurate! Better safe than sorry!
“What if there are irregularities in my basal body temperature?”
When you first start taking your BBT, you’ll notice that your numbers are all over the place and that’s ok! I have a very regular cycle and my numbers were truly crazy and it totally freaked me out. Don’t worry, just keep temping and keep in mind what you are looking for, peak in temperature, rise or decline post-ovulation. If you still have concerns after tracking for an entire cycle, bring your chart into your next visit with your doctor and ask them to explain it to you! They are there for a reason!
“What if i’m using multiple thermometers, not taking the temperature at once, taking the temperature and then sleeping again?”
I suggest to only use one thermometer while tracking BBT. Although you would think that you’d get the same answer from any thermometer, chances are you won’t. It doesn’t necessarily matter what temperature you are, what matters is the degree of increase or decline. So using the same thermometer can be very beneficial and much more accurate. Now as for the taking the temperature and falling back asleep, that’s totally fine! I suggest that, as you read above, that’s what I did. Just make sure to set an alarm and wake up at the same time each day, take your temp, then go back to bed!
“What if I don’t see a peak in my chart?”
Don’t panic! Everyone is different. I suggest bringing your chart from your first cycle or the previous cycle in to your doctor. It could mean that you didn’t ovulate or it could just be an error. I would definitely talk to your doctor!
“What do I do if I miss a day?”
You will miss a day, at some point. Don’t panic. If you wake up later than you are supposed to, I suggest skipping that day. If you temp later in the morning than usual, it could make your temp rise but not for the reason you are thinking. This is exactly why I say use OPKs too!