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In the Know: Charting your Basal Body Temperature and Cervix

a blog by Claire, October 18, 2012

If you’re anything like me, you need to know how things work. You take matters into your own hands. You do your own research.

While going through my own fertility treatment, I kept hearing the term Basal Body Temperature (BBT). What’s that? Basil? What does that have to do with ovulation? And what’s this cervical mucus stuff anyway? I quickly realized they were saying Basal Body Temperature and it simply meant my daily “starting” temperature. When I realized the sperm was losing in a microscopic game of hide and seek, I knew I had to find out what was going on in there!

If you’re looking to track your ovulation, or lack thereof, you will need a few items you likely have around your house: A thermometer, a few spreadsheets or graphing paper, and a pen. You’ll want to check your temperature first thing when you wake up from a minimum of 4 hours’ sleep, before your feet touch the floor and before you eat or drink anything. It is best to keep your supplies on your bedside table for this reason.

On cycle day 1 (CD1), or the first day of full red flow, take your temperature orally, vaginally, or rectally- same location each time. I prefer orally, but with everything else going on in a fertility treatment cycle, the other two methods don’t sound as off-putting by comparison. You must take your temperature at the same time each day. If you oversleep or don’t get enough sleep, you can still take your temperature but should make a note on your chart.

At the end of each month, examine your chart looking specifically for a rise in temperature (usually around 0.4 degrees Fahrenheit). This can last up to two days, indicating ovulation, and will drop again as you approach CD1 if you have not conceived. It will generally take 3 months to notice a pattern.

On to the cervix…

Before monitoring your cervical position and mucus, it is important to know that like the moon, your cervix goes through phases each month. It can be low, high, hard, or soft depending on the time of the month. It is best to check your cervix with clean hands using your index or middle finger. Record this on your monthly chart as well.

During your period, your cervix will be low, hard, and feel slightly open. After your period, your cervix will remain low and hard, but your cervix will close. Your cervical mucus will range from dry/sticky to creamy. It will appear whitish in color and will not stretch when pulled between your index or middle finger and thumb.

As you near ovulation, your cervix will be high, soft, and you will feel greater amounts of cervical mucus. Your cervical mucus will be wet and more of a clear color. You may notice that it stretches slightly and breaks when you pull your fingers apart.

At the time of ovulation, your cervix will be very soft, high, and open to allow sperm to enter. It will also have increased amounts of clear cervical mucus. It will resemble raw egg white consistency and will stretch about an inch or so without breaking as you pull your fingers apart. This is your most fertile time, so get to work!

So, what if you don’t notice a BBT pattern and your cervical mucus seems wonky? You might have an infertility condition like Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) or hostile cervical mucus. Yes, that is a real diagnosis.

If your charts just don’t make sense, you might just provide an important clue toward diagnosing infertility, so tell your doctor. They can take proactive steps for testing your fertility and refer you to a fertility specialist. Remember, your doctor has seen and heard it all! You are not alone!

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