Women who are trying to conceive and finding that they are having difficulty often turn to fertility charts and calculators and basal body temperature charting in an effort to determine when they are most fertile and thus when they should be trying to conceive. Women who have just found this method may wonder how it works and why. The information contained herein is meant to help explain basal body temperature charts and how they relate to fertility.
Hormones and Conception
The first thing that a woman needs to understand is how conception, hormones and her monthly cycle work together to help produce and egg and thus be fertile. Initially, from the first day of menstruation up until ovulation (the follicular phase), estrogen is the hormone that is normally in charge. This hormone is responsible for creating the egg that hopefully is released and fertilized. The luteal phase, or second phase that runs from ovulation until the start of the next menstrual cycle, is controlled by progesterone and will remain controlled by it until the start of the next follicular phase. The role these two hormones play on the basal body temperature is the basis on which basis body temperature charts operate to help determine fertility phases.
The Importance of Basal Body Temperature in Fertility
Estrogen and progesterone both have a different effect on the body’s basal temperature. The basal temperature is the temperature when the body is at rest and is most often recorded immediately after waking. Estrogen is the main hormone released during the follicular phase and a woman’s basal temperature is cooler during this time.
During the luteal phase, the increase in basal temperature indicates that ovulation has occurred. Charting this for one or two months will help determine approximately when ovulation is occurring and will be more accurate than predictor kits that can be purchased. Having an idea of when ovulation occurs opens up a window just prior to and immediately after ovulation that is prime for conceiving.
Charting basal body temperature is not difficult and simply a matter of making it a morning habit. The only thing that is needed is a basal thermometer which is simply a thermometer that is much more sensitive than the standard thermometer, and a notebook or calendar with pen. In today’s electronic age, many people choose to forego the pen and paper and chart their temperature using an online program or other electronic method. If this is the case, the electronic device should also be kept near the bed so that the temperature can be recorded before it is forgotten.
These should be kept on the nightstand or near the bed so that they are reminders to take the temperature before getting out of bed. Techies may prefer to record their temperature on their laptop or even smart phone and there are many programs available on the Internet designed just for basal body temperature recording. Basal body temperature should be taken at the same time every morning in order to get more accurate results on when it spikes.
Understanding the Results
It’s not enough to simply take the basal body temperature on a daily basis, an understanding of what the numbers mean is vital to knowing when is the best time to attempt to conceive. This
When the body ovulates, the basal temperature increases anywhere from .5 degrees to about 1.6 degrees, which is why a very sensitive thermometer is important. Fertility is at its peak between two and three days before and up to about 24 hours after ovulation. Using the temperature charts makes it possible to see when there are three days of increased temperature; however, this also makes it too late to have intercourse and achieve success. Therefore, intercourse should be as soon as a spike in temperature is noticed and in the next three to four days. This increases the odds of becoming pregnant.
An easier way to understand the results is to use an electronic program online as discussed earlier. These programs will not only help with charting, if they are used consistently, they will help provide a more accurate window by averaging the time over a period. These programs often have built-in graphing capabilities and other features that make them easy to use and save for future reference should the results be needed by a doctor or fertility specialist.
One other way that the odds of becoming pregnant can be increased is to combine the basal temperature chart with an ovulation prediction kit. If these do not achieve conception, the basal temperature chart should be taken to the doctor and a thorough examination performed to determine if there are other conditions preventing pregnancy. Basal body temperature is a proven method of finding out when fertility is at its peak; however, it may take several months to pinpoint just the right time. The good news is that in the case of conceiving, trial and error is not a chore.