Charting Your Basal Body Temperature, Cervical Mucus and Cervical
The fertility awareness method (FAM) is a form of natural family planning that uses a combination of
several separate methods — usually calendar charting, basal b ody temperature (BBT), ce rvical mucus,
and cervical observation — to predict when a woman will ovulate.
The fertility awareness method help s women ide ntify and predict o v ulation so they can time their
reproductive efforts to coincide with their most fertile days, thereby increasing the likelihood of conceivin g.
In general, a woman is able to get pregnant for about 5 to 7 days each month. Sperm can live inside a
woman’s bod y for 3 to 5 days after intercourse; but after ovulation, an egg is viable for just 24 to 48 hours.
You are more likely to conceive if intercourse occurs from 3 days before ovulation until 2 to 3 days after
Basal Body Temperature
Monitoring your basal body temperature can help you identify the change in temperature that occurs just before and
after ovulation. After charting a few cycles, you will be able to distinguish a pattern in your temperature and
Take your basal temperature orally every morning before you do anything, even get out of bed (even the slightest
activity can elev ate your temperature), and record it on your fertility tracking calendar. Use a basal thermometer
instead of a conventional fever thermometer ; your body temperature will only rise between 0.4 and 1 d egree F when
you ovulate and a basal thermometer is more sensitive to small changes in your temperature. As you get closer to
ovulatio n, you may notice a slight drop in temperature followed by a sharp increase, indicating that ovulation has
just occurred. The temperature spike occurs within 12 hours of ovulation and it will remain elevated until your next
menstrual period begins. Your fertile days are just befo re the temperature spike, and for the three da ys following.
The consistency of your cervical mucus changes during your menstrual cycle. In an average cycle, there are three to
four dry days after a five-day menstrual flow. After the dry days, the mucus wetness increases daily, lasting
approximately nine days until it becomes abundant, slippery, clear, and very stretchy, similar to egg whites.
Ovulation occurs within two days of when your mucus b ecomes clearest, slippery, and most stretchy.
To monitor your cervical mucus, collect it from the vaginal opening every day w ith your (clean ) fingers by wiping
them from front to back, or examine the mucus that co llects on your underwear. Record the consisten c y, color and
feel daily to increase your awareness of your fertile period.
The position of a woman’s cervix changes over the course of her menstrual cycle. During menstruation and for the
first few days after, the cervix is fairly low and firm like the tip of your nose. A s ovu lation nears, the cer vix begins
to move up, becoming more soft, wet, and open; during ovulation, the cervix is at its highest and most open to allow
sperm through; and after ovulation, the cervix return s to the firm, low, and closed position.
To observe changes in your cervical po s ition, insert your (clean) middle fing er into your vagina and feel your cervix
for softness, height, opening, and wetness. A plastic speculum can be helpful in the beginning wh ile you are getting
used to finding and feeling your cervix. Check your cervix about the same time of day and in the same position
(squatting, sittin g on the toilet, or with one leg raised). Record the position and quality of your cervix on your chart