Many people find it helpful to track their cycle by charting their changes, and the most common thing to chart is your basal body temperature (or BBT — see our glossary for more fertility acronyms).
If you are into data, this might be your thing. Your BBT is your temperature when you have slept at least 5 hours. By regularly monitoring and recording your BBT, you can track whether you’re ovulating (or even pregnant) because it will change slightly over the course of each cycle.
Personally, I was not one for charting basal body temperature, because it’s only truly clear that you’ve ovulated after the fact. I found that frustrating, but other women I know find it empowering. Charting your BBT can also be used to detect early pregnancy signs, and for many people that is the grand payoff of charting. Like I said, if you are into data, and you like knowing everything you can know, then charting your BBT and other signs is the way to go.
If you do end up seeking help from a fertility specialist or traditional Chinese medicine specialist, they most likely will ask to see your charts. Typically you need to chart for three months to have a baseline from which to understand if you are having any hormonal issues or fertility challenges. Among other issues, charting can reveal a short luteal phase or even potential thyroid issues.
We have a few tools in our Recommended Resources that let you track your BBT, plus other fertility signs like your cervical position, fluid, your period, and much more. Basically, they serve as a complete fertility tracking tool that lets you monitor everything in one place. Some apps also provide a great community of support from other TTC people. If you are into BBT charting, I would recommend the app Fertility Friend for you.