When Trying to Conceive, many women find it helpful to better understand their cycles and learn when exactly they are ovulating. There are two great ways to do this – through charting your Basal Body Temperatures, and recording your waking temperatures each morning, and by the use of OPKs, which stands for Ovulation Predictor Kits.
There are pros and cons to recording your waking temperatures and to using OPKs. Talking Fertility breaks it down:
Basal Body Temperature Charting
It’s free! Well, nearly free. All you need is to purchase a reliable Basal Body Thermometer, that records temperatures down to the tenth of a degree. Another Pro is that, in addition to letting you know when you are ovulating, charting can also give you a heads up about other issues that may stem from your cycle. For example if your luteal phase (the part of your cycle after you ovulate until your period arrives), is very short, then that can help you understand any issues that you should bring up with your doctor. Your temperatures, if too high or too low, can also let you know of possible thyroid conditions, or other issues.
Charting is also a great way to understand and record other monthly changes in your body, such as your own personal ovulation symptoms, the length of your cycle, the average day that you ovulate, and if you don’t ovulate at all. And, if you’re pregnant, it can clue you in on that too!
The cons of charting your morning temperatures is that it is best if you record them at the same time every morning. That can be difficult for many women, due to schedules and sleep cycles. In addition, it helps if there aren’t many irregularities in your sleep, such as waking a few times to use the bathroom, or dealing with periods of interrupted sleep. Small changes in your sleep quality or wake times can affect your charting, which can cause confusion.
For some women, charting can be a source of stress. Waking each morning and hoping that your temperatures stay elevated or jump, or feeling frustrated if you’re seeing an irregular month can create anxiety.
Ovulation Predictor Kits
Ovulation Predictor Kits detect a LH surge in your bloodstream that appears right BEFORE you ovulate, usually within 24-48 hours. OPKs are reliable, and leave little room for confusion if used correctly. It can also reduce the stress that often times can accompany Ovulation Charting.
It costs money. There are more expensive options like ClearBlue and cheaper options available like WondFo, but it can be pricey since you’ll have to POAS (pee on a stick) for a week before you ovulate each month to make sure that you don’t miss your ovulation. For some women, they will have to POAS twice a day if their LH surge is short.
While OPKs are great at telling you when you ovulate, you will learn less about your cycle by just using them, then you would charting.
A Combined Approach
Many people combine using OPKs and Charting, to together tell the story on their monthly cycles. So when a woman thinks that ovulation is approaching, she can begin to chart and then use OPKs on a select few days to help pinpoint that actual time that her body is ovulating.