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StorkNet's Week By Week Guide to Pregnancy



Fertility Signs Primer

Table of Contents:

How do I check my temperature (BBT)?

It is important to use a special Basal Body Temperature thermometer rather than a fever thermometer. Both digital and mercury thermometers will be effective. You can find one at most pharmacies. Here are some guidelines to follow when taking your BBT:

  • Take your temperature before rising in the morning as any activity can raise your BBT.

  • If you use a mercury thermometer, shake it down the previous night. (Or ask your partner to do it)

  • Take your temperature at the same time every morning.

  • Keep your thermometer accessible from your bed so you don't have to get up to get it.

  • Use the same thermometer throughout your cycle if possible. If it breaks and you use a new one, make a note of it on your charts.

  • Keep a spare thermometer in case one breaks.

  • Temperatures can be taken orally, vaginally or rectally but must be taken in the same place throughout the cycle since the temperatures of the different parts may vary.

  • Record your temperature soon after you take it (or ask your partner to) since most thermometers only store a reading until the next use. If you have to do something else or want to stay in bed, you can record it later, but we recommend recording it right away when possible to avoid forgetting.

  • If you must use a heating pad or electric blanket, keep it at the same setting throughout your cycle.

  • Take your temperature before doing anything else including eating, drinking, smoking or going to the bathroom. If circumstances arise that prevent you from taking your temperature right away, take it as soon as you are able.

What can affect my BBT?

The following are factors that are not related to fertility that can affect your BBT reading and should be noted in your charts (record it in the note entry field if you are using Fertility Friend OnLine):

  • If you have a fever.
  • Drinking alcohol the previous night.
  • Taking BBT after less than 3 hours of consecutive sleep.
  • Taking BBT at a different time.
  • Using a heating pad or electric blanket.
  • Using a new thermometer in the same cycle.
  • Emotional or mental excitement.

How do I check my Cervical Fluid?

Here are some tips for observing your cervical fluid. After you have done it for a few cycles you will develop your own methods of observation and they will probably become second nature when you wake up and go to the bathroom. You can observe cervical fluid externally or internally. Most women find it easiest to check externally, but if you are breast-feeding or approaching menopause and the vaginal tissues are dry, the fluid may not flow as easily and you may find checking the fluid at the opening of the cervix is necessary.

External Cervical Fluid Observation:

  • When you wake up (after taking your BBT but before you bathe or shower) observe your cervical fluid and vaginal sensations.

  • Check it again throughout the day when you go to the bathroom.

  • Check the external cervical fluid to see if fluid is present and if so the quality, color and amount. The best way to check is with white toilet tissue. Wipe the outside of the vagina and ask yourself the following questions:
    1. Does the vagina feel wet or dry?
    2. Is there any fluid on the tissue?
    3. How does it look?
    4. What color is it?
    5. What consistency is it?
    6. How much is there?
    7. How does it feel when you touch it?
    8. Can you stretch it between your thumb and index finger?

  • Doing Kegel exercises (squeezing the pubbococcygeal or PC muscles that surround your vagina) helps to push cervical fluid to the vaginal opening and makes observation easier. Exercise and bowel movements also push cervical fluid to the vaginal opening making observation easier.

  • Record your observations using Fertility Friend.

Internal Cervical Fluid Observation

If you choose to check your cervical fluid by internal observation, only the method for gathering the fluid is different. Otherwise, follow the same steps and observations as for external observation. To collect cervical fluid internally follow these steps:

  • Insert two fingers in your vagina until you can feel your cervix.
  • One finger should be on each side of the cervix.
  • Press gently against your cervix.
  • Collect the fluid by moving your fingers to the opening of the cervix.
  • Remove your fingers and pull them apart slowly.
  • Make your observations as outlined for external fluid observation.

What factors can affect my cervical fluid?

The following factors may affect your cervical fluid and if present should be noted in your charts.

  • Vaginal infection.
  • Semen.
  • Arousal fluid.
  • Spermicides and lubricants.
  • Antihistamines.

How do I check the position of my cervix?

If you choose to check your cervical position as an indicator of fertility here are some guidelines:

  • To avoid the possibility of infection, always check the cervix with clean hands.

  • Check the cervix once a day after menses. It is convenient to check at the same time as you check your cervical fluid.

  • Use the same position for checking your cervix throughout the cycle as changing positions will change your observation of cervical height. Squatting or placing one foot on a stool (or toilet seat) are good positions.

  • Relax. Insert one or two fingers into the vagina. At the back of the vagina, you should be able to feel your cervix. If you apply gentle pressure you will notice that it feels smooth, round and firmer that the surrounding vaginal tissues.

  • Feel your cervix and make the following observations.
    1. Is the cervix high or low? (If it is more difficult to reach it is high)
    2. Does the cervix feel soft or firm?
    3. Does the cervix feel open or closed? (Women who have had children will notice that the cervix always feels slightly open)
    4. Does the cervix feel wet or dry?

  • Record your observations using Fertility Friend On-Line.

© Dawn Software 1998-2000 - All Rights Reserved. Used with permission of Fertility Friend Online by Dawn Software. Please visit the Dawn Software license and disclaimer information.

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