DISCLAIMER – I think it’s really important that I put this at the top. I am not a doctor, I do not have any medical training and everything in this post is purely anecdotal from my own experience and things I have researched myself.
Okay, still here? Good. Well as you know we are trying to conceive our first at the moment and have been trying for around 7/8 months now and its kind of passed the exciting stage and is now more in the difficult “why the hell isn’t it happening?!” stage… With that in mind I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learnt along the way as they may help someone else and today I am focussing on charting body basal temperatures, BBT or temping for those who are used to the short hand.
I started off all excited and eager and to help pay into my need to understand I threw myself into researching what happens when you are trying to conceive. In particular I was shocked about how little I knew about how my own body worked and wanted to know more about this and how I could track what it was doing each cycle. Temping was one of the first things I started to do because it was cheap and easy and it helped to feed into my need to
control know what is going on. So here goes with my explanation on how to help you get started and what you can learn.
Firstly get yourself a good little BBT thermometer and you do not need to spend a fortune, you actually get them pretty cheap. This is the one I bought, click here for the link.
I like this one as it is pretty handy, it holds the record of your temperature until you take the next one. This is a handy little feature as it gets difficult to read it at stupid o clock in the morning each day, this will make more sense in a minute. It has a very easy to use large on/off button, helpful for half asleep movements, and has a little beep when it is turned on, when it has finished taking a reading and when it is turned off. It also comes in a handy little clear plastic clippy box which helps to keep it clean and stop me losing it between my pillows.
Something important to check is do you use celsius or farenheit? Make sure that you get the thermometer with the correct read out or one that comes with options. Personally I use celsius just because farenheit is total gobbledegook to me.
Right, so, have you got your handy little thermometer? Now to get started. There are lots of good websites out there to help you guide you through things a bit better than I can but here is my layman’s description.
When do I do it? (ooh err)
So the not fun thing about temping is that it must be done at the same time every day after at least 3/4 hours sleep. It also must be done before you move, sit up, talk, have a scratch, take a piss or jump on the bed like a child to wake up your husband – I know totally unreasonable isn’t it. This to me is the worst bit because I usually wake up at different times throughout the week and kept forgetting to sit like sleeping beauty with the thermometer sticking out of my gob. So! I have an alarm set every morning with a different tune to my normal alarm, it is also at least half an hour before I have to wake up on my earliest morning. At first this was a total ballache but now ive gotten into a routine – alarm goes off – turn thermometer on – stick thermometer in gob – wait for the beep to signify it is finished – turn it off and put it back in its box – go back to sleep for as long as possible – then when I finally wake up I can turn my light on and read my temp in my own time.
I know everyone has their own morning routines and I tried for a while to avoid the earlier alarm as I hated it, but I just kept forgetting and in the end it was the best option for me.
Why can’t I do it when I visit the loo when I get up?
Well some people do and it works fine, however in my experience and from what I’ve read this isn’t the most reliable way to do this. When I tried doing mine in the loo after waking up my temps were all over the place and it wasn’t at a consistent time every day which only made things harder. Medically speaking moving or talking in any fashion will change your bbt, this is why it is so important to do it after a long rest period and before moving, Also going from a nice snuggly bed to a cold bathroom will inevitably affect your temperature.
Why does it need to be the same time every day?
Honestly? I don’t know, I probably have read it but that bit of information hasn’t stuck in my head. But what I can tell you from experience is that if you don’t stick to the same time each day it really does mess with your chart. If you work shifts there are some really good websites out there with better advice than I can give. But if you are just like me and hate alarms and morning in general this is one of those things you will have to suck up if you decide to temp.
Right so I’ve not moved and I’ve done it at the same time each morning, now what?
Okay, this is where it starts to get interesting and help you see what is going on. Firstly decide how you want to track your temperature; you can do this on paper with downloadable and printable charts like this one.
Or you can use an app on your tablet or smart phone to record your temperatures. Because the key thing is that you should record them and plot them out on a graph, this is where you will start to understand what is going on and how your own cycle works. I’ve used the babycentre, Ovia and Fertility Friend apps on my phone and settled with FF just because it suited my needs best but there are lots of options out there so find one which suits you best.
When it comes to tracking your temp you can be as involved or stand offish as you like. Most apps/graphs will give you an opportunity to record other things as well; such as any symptoms, cervical mucus or cervix position, when you’ve had sex, when you’ve had your period, any tests you’ve taken. But these are all things for another post! But do have a look around and see what your options are.
Okay, I’ve taken my temp, plotted it on my graph/app now what?
Now you wait and see what happens, your temperature will tell you quite a bit about where you are up to in your cycle. Here is the basic guide to what it will usually do.
For the first half of the month your temp will generally be low, in celsius terms it usually ranges from 36.00 to 36.40 depending on the individual but it can go up and down.
During ovulation your temperature will drop significantly and be followed by a quick rise that will continue to rise and stay high for the rest of the month. Usually your temp drop has to be followed by three days of higher temperatures to be confirmed as ovulation.
After ovulation your temperatures will stay high until you get your period or confirmation that you are pregnant. If the former happens your temperature will plummet to the pre-ovulation temps around the first day of your period, if the latter happens your temp will stay high or even continue to rise. This after ovulation, pre-period time is often referred to as the two week window/wait or more medically correct as the Luteal Phase.
I have included my chart from my first month of temping properly, as you can see it stayed high and I stopped temping on day 32 – this is the day I got a bfp (big fat positive pregnancy test) but unfortunately I had an early miscarriage and started temping again in August. It is however my most “typical” chart. You can see I had ovulated on day 15 and my last temperature was taken on the day I got my bfp and so stopped temping for that month.
And just for you to compare below is my chart from November, test yourself see if you can figure out when I ovulated etc.
Now I am conscious that this post is getting really long so please do bugger off whenever you feel like it! I just want to clarify a last few bits that I asked all the time when I first started –
What are the red horizontal and vertical lines on everyones charts?
These are the cover/base line and the ovulation mark respectively. The horizontal line is called the cover line and is based on your typical pre-ovulation temperature, this is used to help you confirm ovulation and track your post-ovulation temps and predict if your period is on its way. The vertical line is to show the differentiation between the first and second half of your cycle clearly.
The important things about these two lines are that every app produces them in a slightly different way with slightly different meanings, IE. dotted lines/dashed lines/solid lines mean different things so it is important to check which yours uses and what the different meanings are.
My temperature fluctuates a lot either above/below the line pre ovulation, is this a bad thing?
Nope, it is pretty normal for most women. As you see in my chart this happens quite regularly. Now if your temperatures are massively rocky up and down, despite following all the instructions on how to take your temp properly and this is consistent each month it could be something to ask your nurse practitioner or GP about. Certain medications can cause this, as well as conditions like PCOS – but like I said I AM NOT A DOCTOR so please don’t freak out or panic – it is always best to ask a professional.
Can I confirm I am pregnant through taking my bbt?
NO! Any site that says otherwise is lying to you. The only way to get a positive confirmation is with a test. Unfortunately. If you are in the tww and desperately looking for answers, I feel your pain but step away from the pee stick and the thermometer and go do something to keep yourself busy! Unfortunately temps can stay high until the day of your period and there is just no way to be sure so do not count on them!
This is genuinely just my take on temping and why I find it useful, this journey is a long, complicated, difficult and exciting one with lots of ups and downs. The most important thing is to try to stay as healthy as you can. I don’t mean physically here, I mean emotionally and mentally; I am one of those people who needs to know and understand all the time to help me cope and so temping is a great option for me. However, if you stress and obsess and worry maybe you should step away and find another way to distract yourself because it can become very easy to pin everything on that little digital read out every morning and have your world come crashing down when it isn’t what you expected or things happen that you weren’t expecting.
Also and I mean this seriously, get yourself on one (or several) of the great ttc forums out there – mumsnet, netmums, babycentre etc etc the advice, comradery and support you receive there will generally be the best you can get.
Right, I think that is everything I can think of but if you have any questions please do leave me a comment or go look at some of the great advice out there from proper advice websites.