Trying to Conceive (cont.)

Charting Your Fertility Pattern

Knowing when you're most fertile will help you plan or prevent pregnancy. There are three ways you can keep track of your fertile times. They are:

Basal body temperature method

Basal body temperature is your temperature at rest as soon as you awake in the morning. A woman's basal body temperature rises slightly with ovulation. So by recording this temperature daily for several months, you'll be able to predict your most fertile days.

Basal body temperature differs slightly from woman to woman. Anywhere from 96 to 98 degrees Fahrenheit orally is average before ovulation. After ovulation most women have an oral temperature between 97 and 99 degrees Fahrenheit. The rise in temperature can be a sudden jump or a gradual climb over a few days.

Usually a woman's basal body temperature rises by only 0.4 to 0.8 degrees Fahrenheit. To detect this tiny change, women must use a basal body thermometer. These thermometers are very sensitive. Most pharmacies sell them for about $10. You can then record your temperature on our special PDF - Basal Body Temperature Chart (PDF, 555 KB).

The rise in temperature doesn't show exactly when the egg is released. But almost all women have ovulated within three days after their temperatures spike. Body temperature stays at the higher level until your period starts.

You are most fertile and most likely to get pregnant:

  • Two to three days before your temperature hits the highest point (ovulation), and
  • 12 to 24 hours after ovulation.

A man's sperm can live for up to three days in a woman's body. The sperm can fertilize an egg at any point during that time. So if you have unprotected sex a few days before ovulation there is a chance of becoming pregnant.

Many things can affect basal body temperature. To get the most useful chart you should take your temperature every morning at about the same time. Things that can alter your temperature include:

  • Drinking alcohol the night before
  • Smoking cigarettes the night before
  • Getting a poor night'ssleep
  • Having a fever
  • Doing anything in the morning before you take your temperature -- including going to the bathroom and talking on the phone
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/2/2014

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