How to Take Basal Body Temperature in 2 Steps


Basal body temperature (BBT) is a way for many women to try and get pregnant, or try to avoid pregnancy. Understanding what this temperature is will be vital before going into how to take basal body temperature.

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What Is Basal Body Temperature?

Your body’s basal temperature is the absolute lowest body temperature achieved during rest. Traditionally, this temperature is taken when a person is asleep. But many people will take a measurement when they first wake up, before engaging in any form of physical activity.

Basal Body Temperature and Women

Everyone has a basal body temperature, but a woman’s body is much different than a man’s body. A woman’s body temperature will rise as she goes into ovulation – the time when pregnancy can occur.

Ovulation will boost a woman’s basal temperature by 0.5 – 1.0 degree Fahrenheit.

A blue thermometer isolated on white backdrop.

Lower temperatures are experienced before a woman’s ovulation begins, and gets higher during the ovulation period.

How to Take Basal Body Temperature: 2 Steps to Follow

If you want to learn how to take your basal body temperature, it’s important to first do the following:

What Thermometer Should I Use?

It’s highly recommended that you find a digital thermometer that provides you with a quick and accurate reading. There are BBT-specific thermometers that are ideal for this purpose. Some models will also store the temperatures for you, but I’ve found journaling the temperature is a more reliable method.

Establish Normal Temperature Ranges

The body’s temperature will fluctuate, but you can start monitoring your temperature today and expect accurate results immediately. A good rule of thumb is to monitor your temperature all throughout the month and keep track of these temperatures in a journal or Excel file.

You need to know what normal temperatures are for you.

Once you have a good understanding of your body’s temperature, you can start to use these temperature readings to your advantage.

Step 1: Take Your Temperature Before Rising

The first step of the process is to take your temperature before rising in the morning. It’s best to place the thermometer on a night table or somewhere that is in your immediate reach so that it’s ready in the morning.

Oral or vaginal temperature recordings can be done.

Simply place the thermometer in your mouth or vagina, and allow the unit enough time to record the reading. The unit will likely beep to alert you that it has recorded the temperature fully.

Step 2: Jot Down Your Temperature

It’s vital that you have a complete track record of your basal temperature on a monthly basis. Slight fluctuations will tell you a lot about what’s going on with your cycle. Don’t rely solely on your memory for record keeping.

Use a journal to keep track of your temperature, or better yet, a calendar.


Apps are also available that can be used to track all of your temperatures digitally if that is preferred.

A form recorded basal body temperature with a thermometer on it.

That’s all you have to do to take your BBT accurately. It’s only two steps, but following these steps is vital to your success.

5 Tips for Accurate Basal Body Temperature Readings

There is a lot you can do to increase the precision of the readings. If you don’t follow these tips, you’ll find that the readings may not be as precise as you had hoped, which can lead to you not getting pregnant if you’re trying to use this temperature as a guideline for ovulation.

Follow these five tips for success:

  1. Be Consistent: It’s essential that you’re consistent with your temperature taking. If you wait too long, you’ll have a drastically different reading. It’s recommended that you take the temperature at the same time every day for the absolute best results.
  2. Use the Same Temperature Method: You can take the temperature vaginally or orally, but it’s best to remain consistent. The readings may be different when taken vaginally than orally, and vice versa.
  3. Sleep at Least 3 Hours: Basal temperature is meant to be the lowest temperature that your body reaches when resting. If you take a quick nap, the body will not cool enough. You must sleep for a period of at least three hours so that you can get an accurate reading.
  4. Take the Temperature Before Rising: Slight movement causes your body’s temperature to rise. Before rising, it’s important to take your temperature. Keep the thermometer close to the bed, so you can roll over and take your temperature.
  5. Use the Same Thermometer: Basal temperatures vary by as little as a half of a degree, so accuracy demands you to use the same thermometer and the same settings for optimal results.

Basal Body Temperature to Get Pregnant

The pregnant woman in the bed.

The basal body temperature you maintain will be different than another woman’s temperature, so establishing your “norm” is crucial to your success. Once you’ve done all of the above recommendations, it’s time to learn how to use these readings to your advantage.

Ovulation can be determined if:

  • Temperatures rise 0.5 – 1 degrees

If the temperature is elevated, this is the ideal time to try and get pregnant. Ovulation means you’re fertile and ready to go, so to speak.

Couples will use this temperature variation as a guideline to getting pregnant or increasing the chances of getting pregnant at this time.

Some women will also use this temperature change as a form of contraceptive where they’ll avoid intercourse at this time.

BBT as a Pregnancy Indicator

It takes 2 – 3 weeks for a pregnancy test to be somewhat accurate. Women trying to conceive should keep monitoring their BBT as a form of pregnancy detection. Not only will you know faster than with a pregnancy test in most cases, but BBT as a pregnancy indicator is actually highly accurate.

Monitor your temperature and note days of increased temperature ranges.

If the temperature stays elevated for a period of 18 days, there is an extremely high probability that you’re pregnant at this time. A pregnancy test or visit to the doctor can follow to verify your findings.

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