When you’re ready to conceive, you may initially think you’ll become pregnant within a few months. But if a few months pass by and you’re still not pregnant, you may be wondering about whether you or your partner might be experiencing fertility issues that are interfering with conception. Most doctors advise couples under the age of 35 to wait at least one year of trying to conceive before visiting a fertility specialist, but if you’re anxious to become pregnant, one year may be too long to wait.
If you’re a woman, you can gain insight into your fertility by measuring your basal body temperature (BBT) throughout your cycle. Your BBT is your body temperature when you’re completely at rest, or your temperature early in the morning upon waking. When you ovulate, your BBT will increase slightly due to rising progesterone levels. If you write down and track your BBT for a few months, you can gain a better understanding about how your body works, and whether you’re experiencing normal hormonal shifts, which is crucial when you’re trying to conceive.
Your BBT should range from about 97.0 to 97.7 degrees Fahrenheit before ovulation, and 97.8 or higher after ovulation, says Toni Weschler, MPH, author of Taking Charge of Your Fertility. The rise in temperature is due to the rise in your body’s progesterone. When you get your period, your progesterone and BBT decreases, but if you’re pregnant, your BBT will remain high.
Purchase a BBT thermometer from your local drugstore, and start tracking your BBT every day. If your BBT isn’t rising and falling as it should throughout your monthly cycle, and appears to be inconsistent or random, your body may not be ovulating as it should. According to Weschler, women who aren’t ovulating as they should generally only have one level of BBT throughout their cycles.
Why your BBT could be inconsistent
Don’t be alarmed if your BBT is inconsistent; in some cases, you could be experiencing hormonal imbalance due to one or more factors, such as being overweight, having poor nutrition, or not exercising regularly. Alternately, you could be having irregular cycles due to thyroid issues, ovarian cysts, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), or endometriosis. While some of these conditions may sound scary, they can be resolved if you seek immediate treatment with your OB-GYN or health care provider.
Keep in mind that charting your BBT may not reveal everything about your fertility issues, but it’s a great place to start, and allows you to become more familiar with your body and menstrual cycle. If your BBT is normal throughout your cycle, it’s possible that there may be another underlying cause preventing you from becoming pregnant, such as blocked fallopian tubes, or fertility problems on behalf of your partner. Make an appointment with your OB-GYN to learn more about your fertility health.
CarePoint Health is dedicated to providing you with the individual care and attention you need so you can relax and focus on what is most important — the birth of your new baby. Contact us today to learn more about our Pampered Pregnancy program.
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