Know Your Fertility

Get pregnant naturally. Avoid pregnancy naturally.

Basal Body Temperature and Fertility

TemperatureThe body’s resting temperature increases four-tenths of a degree Fahrenheit or two-tenths of a degree Centigrade under the influence of progesterone at ovulation.

Observing this sign involves taking your temperature at the same time each morning before rising. (This is not as hard as it sounds. It takes less than two minutes and you can go back to sleep if you want.)

To observe your temperature rise, buy a BD brand digital basal thermometer. This brand will give you a consistent and accurate reading. Other high quality brands of digital basal thermometers are also probably accurate, but have not been tested for fertility awareness. Make sure the battery is good. (You can replace it.) An ordinary clinical thermometer is not accurate enough for fertility awareness. Nor is the “ear thermometer” (tympanic thermometer).

Take your temperature every day immediately upon waking, before 7:30 a.m. The body’s rhythms (circadian rhythms) fluctuate over a 24-hour period. Your temperature is lowest in the early morning and highest in the afternoon.Fluctuations are greater after 7:30 a.m. If you go to bed before midnight and wake up before 7:30 a.m., you will get the clearest temperature readings. If it is not convenient to take your temperature immediately upon waking, you may take it during light morning activity. For example, if you need to go to the bathroom, you may take your temperature while getting up and using the toilet. If you are consistently wakened by your baby, you may take your temperature while caring for your baby. But be consistent about the circumstances under which you take your temperature. If you take it during light morning activity, take it that way every morning. Don’t take it sometimes before getting up and at other times during light morning activity. If you have sexual relations, take your temperature before.

Many women find that the digital thermometers require such a short time to use that it is easy to take their temperature before getting up. Take your temperature by mouth. Under arm and ear temperatures are not accurate enough for family planning purposes. The thermometer will beep softly several times before beginning to beep slightly louder and repeatedly. Keep the thermometer under your tongue until the louder, repeated beeps begin.

You can read and chart your temperature as soon as is convenient after taking it.Your thermometer has a recall button that allows you to read the last temperature taken. Be sure to wash your thermometer after each use.

Charting Your Temperature

Put a dot on a graph on the spot corresponding to each day’s temperature. Join the dots of consecutive days. If you do not take your temperature one day, do not join the dots across that day. Also note the temperature numerically.

Interpreting Your Chart

1) Breathe and relax. Study your chart.

2) Can you find six low temperatures on or before Key Day? (If you do not know how to determine key day, you will have to read the article entitled Charting the Fertile Mucus to Avoid Pregnancy.)

3) Draw a horizontal line at the highest of the six low temperatures. This is your low temperature line. (See sample chart.)

4) Draw another horizontal line four-tenths of a degree F. or two-tenths of a degree C. above your low temperature line. This is your full thermal shift line.

5) Can you find three high temperatures after Key Day? All of the high temperatures must be above the low temperature line. At least the third high temperature must be at or above the full thermal shift line.

6) All the low temperatures must be on or before Key Day and all the high temperatures must be after Key Day. This temperature pattern of low and high temperatures is called a biphasic pattern with a full thermal shift.

A biphasic pattern with a full thermal shift confirms that you really did ovulate. If you are avoiding pregnancy, you may consider the ovum dead and yourself infertile the evening (after 6:00 p.m.) of the 4th high temperature day after Key Day. If you are achieving pregnancy, you can feel confident that you really are ovulating.

If your temperature does not rise four-tenths of a degree F. or two-tenths of a degree C. (or at least a smaller, but visible, rise) and stay there until the end of your cycle, it is called a monophasic pattern. A monophasic pattern indicates that you may not have ovulated. (Then again, you can’t be sure.)

A drop in temperature 10 – 15 days after a thermal shift indicates that menstruation is about to begin that day or within 48 hours. Probably that day. If your temperature stays high for 18 days or so after the high temperature begins, you are most likely pregnant. Congratulations.

For more information, and a sample chart for the basal body temperature, see the free download, Fertility Awareness, at www.knowyourfertility,net.

– Marie


Charting the Fertile Mucus to Achieve Pregnancy

Observing and charting the fertile-type mucus (cervical mucus) is the best way to know your fertile time if you are hoping to conceive, even if your cycles are irregular.

Cervical Mucus is also the easiest fertile sign to observe, since it is noticed in the course of daily activity. It is produced by the cervix during the days when the ova are maturing and preparing for ovulation. This mucus is not only an indicator of fertility, it is essential for fertility. Cervical mucus nourishes the sperm, protects them from the natural acidity of the vagina, and guides them toward the ovum.

Here’s an simple way to observe and chart your fertile type mucus:
Pay attention to how you feel as you go about your daily activities. Just as you have learned to notice a certain wetness at menstruation, you will begin to notice a second wet time later in the cycle, a wet time without bleeding. The second wet time is caused by your fertile type mucus.

Each time you use the toilet, wipe with toilet paper both before and after you use the toilet, noticing: a) the sensation you feel as you wipe with toilet paper, b) what is on the toilet paper. If you do not use toilet paper in your culture, whatever way you clean yourself after using the toilet will be the way that you observe the mucus. Chart what you see and what you feel in any way that makes sense to you. Here is one way to chart.
1) Menstruation: mark the days of bleeding in some way, such as coloring the calendar day red.
2) Nothing: if you don’t see or feel anything outside your vagina, you can leave the calendar blank on those days.
3) Something: but if you see or feel something – anything – such as pasty or sticky mucus, or a feeling of wetness – draw a raindrop, on these days.
4) Slippery something: If the pasty or sticky mucus turns to slippery mucus or a slippery feeling, color the raindrop dark to indicate the slippery wetness.

After a few slippery wet days, the mucus may disappear or return to sticky or pasty. When it does, mark the LAST DAY of slippery wet mucus as the KEY DAY, and begin to count the days when no slippery mucus is noticed. In a normal fertile cycle, the time between the last day of slippery feeling and the next menstruation is between 11-16 days. You will become quite accurate about your predictions after you chart for a few cycles.

The slippery mucus time is your most fertile time, since fertile type is produced during the days leading up to and including ovulation. If you are trying to conceive, use the wet, slippery days for sexual relations. (Don’t try to use this information for birth control – avoiding pregnancy – unless you seek out a qualified teacher of fertility awareness or download and study the fertility awareness book on this site.)

Generally speaking, dark red bleeding for about three days indicates that hormones are high enough to build a good uterine lining and nourish a fetus in the event of conception. However, more than three days of dark red bleeding can be exhausting. In this case I recommend two or three cups of red raspberry leaf tea daily to strengthen the uterus and balance hormones.

Three to five days of wet, slippery mucus 11-14 days before the next menstruation is a probable indicator of normal ovulation and a fertile cycle. Cycles are often 28-30 days from the first day of bleeding to the first day of the bleeding of the next menstruation. However, irregular cycles do not indicate infertility. If the time between the last day of slippery mucus and the next menstruation is 11-16 days, the cycle is probably fertile. Even if one cycle is not fertile, the next may well be fertile.  If the time after ovulation and the next menstruation is less than 11 days, pay more attention to your nutrition.  Be sure to eat a few pasture-raised eggs each day.  Take a good pre-natal vitamin – making sure that the vitamins come from a food source.

Look for natural foods grown without chemicals. Heal your relationships with family and mate. Exercise in moderation. Drink plenty of pure water. Pray for the child you desire.

For more information, and a sample chart for fertile type mucus, download the free Fertility Awareness book available on this site. If you keep a careful chart for a few cycles and send the charts to me at I will be glad to review your charts and make suggestions.


Marie Zenack,


By the time your temperature goes up, it’s too late.

Or: Why, if you are trying to conceive, you should forget about taking your temperature.

Let’s begin by understanding the cycle: To begin the cycle of fertility, a hormone, called follicle-stimulating hormone, (FSH) is produced by the pituitary gland in the brain. FSH travels through the bloodstream to the ovaries, causing a few (about 16) of the many tiny follicles there to begin to ripen, or mature. (A follicle is a ring of cells with a tiny, unripe egg, called an ovum, inside.)

As the follicles ripen, they produce another hormone – estrogen. Under the influence of estrogen, the cervix (the opening of the uterus,) begins producing fertile type mucus. For most of us there is enough mucus to be noticed as a wet, slippery sensation outside the vaginal opening. (Without knowing our signs of fertility, we could mistake the cervical mucus for perspiration or an infection!)

Estrogen signals the pituitary gland in the brain that some follicles have matured in the ovaries.

Ovulation: When the pituitary gland receives the message that some follicles have matured, it produces another hormone – leutenizing hormone, or LH. LH causes one of the ripening follicles to release its ovum into a fallopian tube – ovulation

The tiny ovum – barely visible without a microscope – is moved along the fallopian tube by the cilia, tiny hairs that line the fallopian tubes. Fertilization actually takes place while the ovum is still in the fallopian tubes. If the ovum is not fertilized by sperm within 12 to 24 hours, it disintegrates and is reabsorbed by the body.

After ovulation, the empty follicle, which is called the corpus luteum, lives for about two weeks, all the while making another hormone – progesterone.

Progesterone causes a woman’s resting temperature to go up about 4/10 of a degree Fahrenheit or 2/10 of a degree Centigrade.

So here is the important thing about taking your temperature: The rise in temperature is produced by progesterone. Progesterone is produced by the empty follicle. Why is the follicle empty? Because ovulation has already occurred! Since the egg is only capable of being fertilized for about 12 hours after ovulation, by the time the empty follicle produces enough progesterone to cause a rise in temperature, it is too late to fertilize the egg.

So, for those wishing to conceive, I recommend forgetting about the thermometer and paying attention to the sensation outside the vagina, using the wet, slippery days for sexual relations.

That wet, slippery mucus is what protects the sperm from vaginal acidity, keeping the sperm alive, ready and waiting for the egg when it appears. As soon as it does, they race to meet her.
For more information, and a sample chart for keeping track of your basal body temperature, see the free Fertility Awareness download available on this site.

– Marie


Artificial Light and Fertility

Artificial light may be affecting your menstrual cycle, and your fertility.

Our sleepless society surrounds us with an  abundance of man-made light – even during times we call dark. This artificial light while we sleep appears to interfere with the production of melatonin, a hormone associated with ovarian activity.
Research studies by Joy DeFelice, R.N., B.S.N. P.H.N. at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, Washington, showed that women’s cycles usually normalize when artificial light is eliminated while sleeping. Eliminating the artificial light seems to allow the hormonal system to reset itself, so to speak, and take a fresh start. Couples who were thought to be infertile have been able to conceive by eliminating artificial light while sleeping.
In these studies, couples slept in total darkness. Eliminating the sources of light usually resolved many, if not all, of the fertility difficulties. If the cycle had not normalized after three cycles in darkness, a small amount of light, such as a night light or outside moonlight, was introduced during sleep when signs of ovulation began.

Other experiments with light on laboratory rats had found that melatonin formation is on a clear 24-hour rhythm that is entirely dependent on the light-dark cycle. In continuous light, the rat’s pineal gland shrinks, puts out less melatonin, and ovarian activity increases. In continuous darkness, the opposite occurs.

These findings lead Joy DeFelice, the author of the studies on artificial light and fertility, to postulate that when the 24 hour rhythmic level of melatonin is lost due to the presence of abnormal levels of light at night, both the normal progression of hormonal events within the menstrual cycle and the normal circulating levels of each reproductive hormone can become disrupted.

Those women sleeping in darkness attained a more normal menstrual cycle and subsequently a high success rate in achieving pregnancy if no contributory medical factors were present.

My own daughter participated in this study. Her cycles were irregular and long – sometimes with no ovulation or menstruation at all for over eight months.  In order to participate in the study, she bought darkening cloth and velcroed it to the window frames. She removed the clock radio with it’s glowing clock, and rolled a beach towel into a tube to block light that might enter under the door.

Her cycles normalized within a few months, and she was able to conceive her first child. –


Marie Zenack,