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Natural Fertility Signs: The Basics

There are three different natural ways to monitor your fertility. The methods are by Basal Body Temperature, Cervical Fluid, and Cervical Position. These three indicators, when combined with charting, can be very effective ways to track your cycles, letting you know just when you are ovulating, and helping you increase your chances of conceiving.

What is a Basal Body Temperature?

BBT is the temperature of your body before any activity. Taken every morning, before you get out of bed, before ANY activity, with a basal thermometer, it’s your body’s baseline temp. Most women find that their body temperature is lower during the first part of their cycle. It will usually rise slightly (between 0.4 and 0.8 F) on the day of ovulation. It will usually stay up until just before the start of the next period. If a pregnancy occurs, temps stay up past the day that the next period should begin.

What type of thermometer do I use?

For most women, 96 to 98 degrees taken orally is considered normal before ovulation and 97 to 99 after. The changes are small fractions (from 1/10 to 1/2 degree). To register these small variations accurately, it’s recommended that you use a Basal thermometer. They only register from 96 to 100 degrees F. You can find them online or at your local drug store.

What is cervical mucus and how does it change?

Cervical mucus is produced by the lining of a woman’s cervical canal. during her monthly cycles. Immediately after menstruation, most women have several days of “no mucus” or dryness. It then usually becomes cloudy and tacky, then changing to clear and slippery just before ovulation. During this clear and slippery, “egg white” phase, it also will stretch between the fingers. This is a sign you are in your most fertile phase.

How can I check cervical mucus?

You can check her mucus in several ways, depending on which is most comfortable for you. Some of the options are:

  • wipe the vaginal opening with toilet tissue before urination
  • observe the discharge on underpants
  • obtain some of the mucus by placing your fingers (making sure they are clean) in the vagina.

When checking the mucus, be sure to note the color. It may be white, creamy, opaque, or clear.

Early mucus is usually described by one of these terms: Scanty, not a lot present, the consistency is thick and sticky, it usually holds it shape. The color is white or opaque.

Next there is “Transitional stage”. Some of the characteristics of this stage are: Increasing amounts of mucus, mucus will be thinner, and cloudy in appearance and color. At this stage, it is slightly stretchy.

The final stage before ovulation is the “Highly fertile stage”. At this time, mucus will usually be visible in profuse amounts. It’s thin, and transparent. It’s often called “egg white cervical mucus” because of its stretchy properties.

What is cervical position, and how do I check it?

During your cycle, your cervix changes it position. Monitoring this, can help you track your fertile periods. You should begin checking your cervical position at the end of your period and check it daily, and preferably, at the same time of day.

There are several positions you can use to check the positioning. Experiment with each, and find which is the most comfortable one for you. It’s important that once you decide on a position, you consistently use the same one.

Many women find that sitting on the toilet is a easy position to use, while others prefer to squat or place one foot up on the toilet or tub, while the other is on the floor. You will need to use one hand to hold back the vaginal lips, while inserting the other hand’s middle finger into your vagina. Move your finger up until you hit your cervix. It should feel like a rounded cylinder shaped mass within your body. Note the position you find. Does it see far back? lower down? During the beginning of your cycle, and after ovulation, your cervix is in a low position. It raises to the higher position just before and during ovulation. If you are unsure at first which is high and which is low, a guideline is when high your cervix is almost unreachable with you fingertip. You could also ask your OB/GYN or other health care provider to help you find your cervix during your yearly well woman exam, if you find you are still having difficulties checking.

Ok, so now I know how to do all this….now what?

Now that you know the three types of natural fertility signs, you are probably asking yourself how to use them together to track your fertility. Many women keep a daily chart of all three signs. These charts over a period of months, help you track your cycles and ovulation fairly accurately. You can download a printable BBT chart to record your “signs” on.

Excel Spreadsheet – bbtchart.xls
PDF chart – bbtchart.pdf

If you would like to keep a record of your fertility signs on your computer, Ovusoft has a great computer program that can help you as well.

Taking Charge of Your Fertility is an excellent book which will go into depth about your natural fertility signs, helping to clarify any questions you will have.


Last modified: February 10, 2013


The information provided here should not be considered medical advice. It is based on the average experience of women trying to conceive and may not be what you may be experiencing. It's not meant to be a replacement for any advice you may receive from your doctor. If you have any concerns about your cycle or our ability to get pregnant, we advise you to contact your doctor.