No Temperature Rise After Seeing Fertile Cervical Mucus? Here's Why.

Medical worker napping at hospital
Working the night shift may throw off your basal body temperature charting. This may lead to seeing fertile cervical mucus, but no temperature rise. Andersen Ross / Getty Images

A reader asks: "I get days of fertile cervical mucus, but I don't get a sustained rise in temperature on my body basal temperature chart. Instead, my temperature seems to be all over the place. Does this mean I'm not really ovulating? Can you have cervical mucus and not be ovulating?"

Answer:

Usually, fertile cervical mucus—a watery to raw egg-white like vaginal discharge—will precede ovulation. If you're charting your body basal temperature, and ovulation occurred, you'd expect to see a sustained and a temperature rise within a few days of seeing your most fertile cervical mucus.

If you don't seem to get a temperature rise at all, it could be for a few different reasons.

Possibility #1: You May Not Be Ovulating

It could be that you're not ovulating.

While fertile quality cervical mucus can warn you that ovulation is coming, so you can time sex for pregnancy, it doesn't confirm that ovulation actually took place.

You can have fertile quality cervical mucus, but not ovulate.

This is more likely the case if you also have irregular menstrual cycles.

Why would you get fertile cervical mucus if you're not ovulating?

Keep in mind that cervical mucus changes in preparation for ovulation. The purpose of increased cervical fluids is to create a vaginal environment friendlier to sperm. Blood flow is also increased to the pelvic area, and this stimulates increased sexual desire.

This is nature's way of trying to get you to have sexual intercourse when you are most likely to conceive.

So, if you're getting fertile cervical mucus, but not ovulating, you might want to think about it like your body is trying to ovulate, but not succeeding.

Normally, cervical mucus will become more abundant just before ovulation. Then, once an egg is released, the cervical fluids dry up. 

However, for women with PCOS (for example), they may have days of fertile quality cervical mucus, followed by dryness, followed by another few days of cervical mucus.

This is the body trying over and over again to ovulate.

Possibility #2: You May Not Be Charting Your Temperatures Carefully

When charting your body basal temperature, you need to be meticulous about taking your temperature at about the same time every morning, before you get up and move around.

This means taking your temperature at the exact same time on the weekends as you do during the week. (No sleeping in late!) It also means you must take your temperature before you get up to use the bathroom or move around much.

Do you work the night shift? Or have difficulty with sleep? These can also throw off your body basal temperatures.

Possibility #3: You May Be Part of the Small Percentage of Women Who Do Not Get a Temperature Rise

While most women will have a small rise in their body basal temperature after ovulation, there is a small percentage of women who do not get one.

You may be one of them!

How Can You Know if You're Ovulating or Not?

If you're unsure whether or not you're ovulating, see your doctor. They can do fertility testing to confirm or look for signs of regular ovulation.

To confirm ovulation is occurring, your doctor can order an ultrasound or blood work.

During ultrasound, the technician will look for evidence of ovulation on the ovaries.

They may want to schedule a ultrasound before you're expected to ovulate—to look for developing follicles—and then after ovulation, to look for evidence of a corpus luteum cyst. (This is what a follicle transforms into after it releases the egg.)

Most commonly, your doctor will order blood work. They will be looking for the hormone progesterone. Progesterone is a hormone that increases rapidly after ovulation, and then declines just before your period starts if you don't conceive.

What happens if you're not ovulating? Your doctor will conduct more fertility tests (including for your partner), refer you to a reproductive endocrinologist, or recommend fertility treatments.

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