Bet you never thought you’d be obsessed with a thermometer? Well think again! If you become a charting addict like me, charting will be wonderful and evil at the same time. So here are the basics on charting:

Step 1: Sign up with Fertility Friend. You can use their basic charting option for free, or you can pay a little bit and use something with more features. They have a great search function where you can find all sorts of things and compare your charts to others. It will keep you entertained for hours!

Step 2: Buy a basal body temperature thermometer. Don’t use just any old regular thermometer, it has to be a basal body temperature thermometer (bbt), as bbts are more sensitive and more precise. It’s best to get a digital one in order to make things easier. Keep in mind that most digital thermometers beep when they are finished. This used to annoy my husband- to help the situation you can try and cover up the speaker hole on back with your thumb as you hold it, and then bring the thermometer under your covers as soon as it starts beeping.

Now that you have completed these two basic steps, it is time to start charting. Your best bet is to read through the Fertility Friend tutorials. If online charting isn’t for you then you can use the chart that comes with your thermometer, print one out from the internet, or just draw your own.

You want to take your temperature at around the same time each morning, before doing ANYTHING! So before you talk, before you brush your teeth, before you get up and use the restroom, take you temperature. This will give you the most accurate reading. If you sleep with your mouth open, this may effect your reading. You will have to experiment a bit. You can start temping as soon as your period is over (no need to do it while on your period as your temps will be very erratic looking- and look at it as a nice vacation from temping).

Temping does not forewarn you that ovulation is about to happen, instead it lets you know you ovulated AFTER the fact. Why is this important? There are a couple reasons. First of all you want to make sure you are indeed ovulating. Although nothing can actually confirm this other than multiple scans of your ovaries at the dr’s office, seeing a sustained jump in temperature on your chart is a fairly good indicator that you ovulated. When you combing this with the use of a fertility monitor or ovulation sticks, you can be pretty darn sure that you ovulated. The reason that that this is not 100% foolproof is because there is something called Luteinized Unruptured Follicle Syndrome (LUFS). This is where the egg develops in the follicle but then gets stuck and is never released. All the normal hormonal changes take place as usual, which is why you get the temp shift even though technically you did not ovulate. The only way to tell if this is happening is to have multiple scans during and after ovulation time to make sure the egg was released. The dr will see the cyst growing prior to ovulation and then will see the ruptured follicle after the egg was released. This is not common to happen consistently and not something that most people will have to worry about, but if you have been ttc for a long time and everything else seems to be checking out just fine, then you might want to talk to your dr about checking you for LUFS. The second reason for wanting to know when you ovulated is to be able get an idea of when you ovulate each month. This will help you determine when to BD.

The rise in temperature is usually about 0.4 degrees F (0.2 C), but even a shift as little as 0.2 F (0.1 C) can imply ovulation. You will want to see this shift for 3 days in a row before confirming the ovulation. A good rule of thumb is to BD until you have seen the shift for 3 days. The first temp shift typically comes the day after ovulation, but can actually come up to 3 days later. Since the egg only lasts for about 24 hours, once you have seen the temp shift for 3 days you are safe to stop BDing. The first day of the temp shift begins your luteal phase (the phase between ovulation and menstruation beginning) and you are now in the two week wait period (2WW). This is typically the longest two weeks of our lives and you need to make a list of things to do that can keep you busy until it is time to test.

Ideally you would like to see your temperature stay at this higher level longer than 14 days because that would be one of the indicators that you are pregnant. Your temperature falls again right at the start of menstruation. If you notice that your temperature is falling and your period is beginning less than 12 days after ovulation(meaning you have less than 12 higher temps), check with your dr. It can typically be ok if it is over 10 days, but 14 is ideal, so if it is under 12, I would mention it to the dr. Having a luteal phase of less than 12 days can be a sign of low progesterone. If your progesterone is low and your period starts early, it may not give your egg enough time to implant before it is shed with your period. Another sign of low progesterone is spotting before you get your period. It can mean other things, but it can also be a symptom of low progesterone.