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Can I confirm ovulation with basal body temperature?

Can I confirm ovulation with basal body temperature?

Kindara Guest Blogger | July 31, 2020 | Fertility Awareness

When you are trying to conceive, it’s the million-dollar question: when do I ovulate? Women have spent time, money and stress trying to pinpoint the day that ovulation happens in their bodies to increase the odds they will conceive and see a “big fat positive” on their test that month. Historically the “typical” timeframe has been said to be around 14 days after the first day of your period, but we now know that is not necessarily true (1); the day of ovulation varies greatly depending on cycle length and your own body’s hormone production (2).

When trying to conceive takes longer than anticipated, you may begin to not only worry about the timing of the fertile window, but also you may begin to wonder if you are even ovulating at all. Ovulation predictor tests/kits (OPKs) and cervical mucus tracking are often used to help predict ovulation, but basal body temperature (BBT) may confirm if you are ovulating or not (3).

So long story short, yes, you can confirm ovulation with BBT. 

 

How does BBT work to confirm ovulation?

BBT is defined as your waking temperature, and it has been used for generations to help achieve fertility goals.  As the female hormone progesterone increases in your body after ovulation, your typical BBT will also increase at least 0.2 degree Fahrenheit (or 0.11 degree Celsius) either until your period begins (4) or for at least 18 days if you’re pregnant. 

The caveat with using temperature to identify ovulation is that the temperature shift only happens after ovulation. In other words, if you’re trying to conceive and you wait to have sex until your temperature spikes, that’s likely too late to conceive (5), therefore, if you are looking for a way to predict ovulation, BBT temping is not your best option. 

 

What are the steps to confirm ovulation with BBT?
Step 1: 

First, purchase a basal body temperature thermometer for better accuracy. BBT thermometers range in price but are usually inexpensive. Some are meant to be used rectally or vaginally, but oral temperatures (taken by mouth) have been proven to be just as reliable for charting your cycle (6). 

Step 2: 

Keep your thermometer by your bed. Take your temperature after at least when you first wake up in the morning, before you do anything else — even before you talk, check your phone, or snuggle with your sweetie and keep the thermometer in place for about five minutes (7). 

Step 3: 

Record your temperature daily and keep an eye on the patterns that emerge. To confirm ovulation, your temperatures must be at least 0.2 degree Fahrenheit (or 0.11 degree Celsius) higher than the previous 6 temperatures for 3 days in a row (6).

If you’re looking for an easy way to keep track of your temperatures, our Kindara App offers a highly customizable charting experience. 

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Once you see a few completed cycles of temperatures, you can determine if your chart is biphasic, meaning it has two phases: one with lower temperatures before ovulation (follicular phase) and higher temps after ovulation (luteal phase). Want to learn more about your menstrual cycle phases? Read our Phases of the Menstrual Cycle blog

If you aren’t seeing the temperature shift, that could mean you’re not ovulating but it doesn’t necessarily mean you aren’t ovulating — sometimes ovulation can happen without the temperature spike (8). Either way, consult your doctor to discuss any questions you have about your health, fertility, and next steps. 

 

Is temping the right choice for me?

Tracking BBT is a commitment: it requires discipline and a regular sleep schedule. as it needs to be done at the same time every single day consistently. Plus, many factors that can impact oral temperature and produce inaccurate results, such as illness, stress, shift work, interrupted sleep cycles or oversleeping, alcohol, travel and time zone differences, and certain medications (8). Have an early morning at work or a few too many drinks the night before? That could lead to an inaccurate temperature the next morning (6). 

Many choose to use BBT as an inexpensive and reliable way to gain more information about their fertility with minimal risk. Some enjoy taking their temperature and find it empowering, while others find it stressful. If you are concerned that you may not be ovulating, temping may provide insight and give you more information when you visit the doctor.