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Infertility & Reproduction Health Center

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Charting Your Fertility Cycle

While some lucky people may get pregnant almost as soon as they start trying, it takes longer for many couples. One good way of increasing your odds is to chart your fertility cycle; that way, you'll better understand when you have the best chance of becoming pregnant. As you go through your cycle, your body gives you all sorts of clues to indicate when it is going into ovulation. You just need to know how to look for them.

Why Bother Charting Fertility?

Charting fertility may seem like a hassle. Obviously, people have managed to get pregnant without the assistance of charts and graphs for most of human history. But by keeping track of a few different things every day, you can improve the odds of becoming pregnant. Charting involves:

  • Taking your basal body temperature
  • Examining your cervical mucus
  • Noting when your menstrual period begins
  • Noting when you have sexual intercourse

Knowing this information can make a difference. Though the average couple conceives after about five or six months of trying, people who know how to determine when the woman ovulates and who have sex regularly during that time boost their chances of conceiving. Charting can bring you more in touch with your body's rhythms, and it can be helpful to a doctor who may be helping you in your quest to get pregnant.

Taking Your Basal Body Temperature

Monitoring a woman's basal body temperature -- or BBT -- has been a time-honored way of charting and predicting ovulation, and it's helped many women get pregnant. However, recent research has shown that it may not be as effective as experts previously thought.

Before ovulation, a woman's basal body temperature is usually about 97.0 to 97.5 degrees Fahrenheit, although those numbers can vary from person to person. During ovulation, your body releases the hormone progesterone, which results in a slightly raised temperature a day or two after ovulation -- usually by 0.5 degrees. Your temperature will probably stay elevated until your next cycle begins. If you become pregnant during that cycle, your temperature will stay elevated beyond that.

A tenth of a degree difference isn't much, but it counts. Also, keep in mind that the temperature change happens after ovulation, which means that once your temperature goes up, you've probably already missed your chance to become pregnant in that cycle. But by charting your temperature every day over several cycles, you may start to see a pattern and be able to predict when you are most fertile.

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