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lady sleeping taking basal body temperature


Charting your menstrual cycle.

When you are fully relaxed or sleeping the core temperature of your body reduces.  The low resting body temperature is called your basal body temperature (BBT).  When tracked correctly it can tell us lots about your fertility and when you are likely to ovulate.

You measure your BBT when you first wake up, after a minimum of 3-4 hours uninterrupted sleep.  Not after getting up to use the bathroom or after moving around and chatting to your partner.  As soon as you sleepily wake up, the first thing you do.  It is best to take your temperature at around the same time each day, some studies have shown that the basal temperature rises 0.09oC for each hour delaying rising.(1)


On waking you place a double decimal point thermometer into your mouth for 3-5minutes.  You can use your vagina or rectum but they are less convenient so often only needed if getting erratic readings.  Enter your findings onto your BBT chart or onto an app which can generate pdf’s of your populated charts.  I recommend Kindara.  Over time these charts can inform your Chinese medicine professional a lot about your cycle and any imbalances that might be hindering your fertility.


Why do BBT charting?


Whether you are trying to get pregnant or avoid pregnancy, or even balance any disharmony to your menstrual cycle such as pain, short periods, amenorrhea or anovulation, it is good to get a picture of what is going on through the month and the BBT charting tells us so much.  Your temperature doesn’t tell us when you are fertile your cervical fluid does that it tells us if and when you have ovulated.  It is fast, easy and a cheap method to use.  It also tells us what is going on with your second stage of your cycle, your luteal phase.  If this is too short or too low it can cause problems when trying to conceive.


How this works.


If you have a regular period, you start measuring your temperature from day 1 of your cycle.  The first day you menstruate.  As mentioned you monitor and track your basal temperature first thing in the morning, before you have moved.  You match this with any other signs and symptoms you might be experiencing through out your cycle.  You track your vaginal mucous and the position of your cervix.  All of this information will tell you when you are fertile each month and over time will build an individual profile which is very informative.


Your menstrual cycle should be bi-phasal.  The first half of your cycle, the follicular stage, your temperature is slightly lower, generally around 36.1oC to 36.44oC. (2).  After ovulation there is a raise in temperature to around 36.5oC to 36.83oC because progesterone the hormone secreted by the corpus luteum raises your temperature, this will stay high until your next period if pregnancy does not occur.  There is also generally a drop in temperature between these two phases when the Luteinising Hormone (LH) peaks prior to ovulation, and ovulation usually occurs the day before the sustained rise in temperature.


As well as the temperature we also track other signs and symptoms.  Along with the fluctuations of hormones there are symptoms such as breast changes, nipple tenderness and swelling, abdomen bloating or discomfort, changes in sleep patterns, moods, food cravings, and most importantly cervical mucous.  Also things affect the readings of the chart such as insomnia, a night drinking more alcohol than usual, stress and illness.


Cervical mucous is a big part of this equation and as I mentioned it indicates when you are fertile.  Basically, as estrogen rises so does fertile mucous giving a subjective feeling of moisture down there, when there is progesterone there is G type mucous which is stickier pasty, drier and impenetrable and located lower down the cervix.  There are 4 different types of fertile mucous doing various jobs which I am happy to talk about with you, but for here just notice when you have thinner slippery mucous designed to help the sperm make their way north. 


BBT charting is a wonderful easy cost effective tool to tell you a lot about what is going on with your body and it’s hormones.  It can be used greatly to aid in fertility if you have been trying for a while and struggling.  It can be used to avoid fertile times but please note it does not substitute for safe sexual practices.


Make a time to see us, we can help. 


1. Royston J, Abrams R, Higgins M, Flynn A. THE ADJUSTMENT OF BASAL BODY TEMPERATURE MEASUREMENTS TO ALLOW FOR TIME OF WAKING. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. 1980;87(12):1123-1127.

2.  Barron, Mary Lee and Fehring, Richard, "Basal Body Temperature Assessment: Is It Useful to Couples Seeking Pregnancy?" (2005). College of Nursing Faculty Research and Publications. 6.

3.  Billings, E., Brown, J., Billings, J., & Burger, H. (1972). SYMPTOMS AND HORMONAL CHANGES ACCOMPANYING OVULATION. The Lancet, 299(7745), 282–284.

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