Basal Body Temperature

What It Is, Why It Matters

Get an explanation of what basal body temperature is and find out how tracking your elevated basal body temperatures can help you conceive.

By Elizabeth Pryor, MD, FACOG


What is basal body temperature, and why does it matter when trying to conceive?


Basal body temperature (BBT) is your body's lowest temperature during the day. Your temperature will rise slightly at the time of ovulation, so charting your BBT is a relatively simple and inexpensive way of documenting your most fertile times. The difference in temperature will be slight (about 0.4 degrees), but it will stay elevated for the last half of the cycle.

To chart your BBT, you'll need a special thermometer (available at any drugstore for about $10). You'll need to take your temperature every morning at the same time, so keep your thermometer by the bed and use it as soon as you wake up. Once your temperature has remained elevated for three days, you have ovulated. The key is to chart your BBT for a least two months so you can see the pattern of your normal cycle.

Dr. Pryor has been certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology since 1994 and is licensed in North Carolina and Tennessee. Dr. Pryor completed her internship and residency at the University of Miami Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Florida. She has been a Fellow in maternal-fetal medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology since 1998.

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