Your Basal Body Temperature (BBT) Chart is a great tool to assist in figuring out issues within your menstrual cycle so we can start correcting them and get you pregnant.
QUICK REVIEW OF MENSTRUAL PHASES
A typical menstrual cycle ranges from 26 – 32 days long. There are 4 phases, including menstrual phase, follicular phase, ovulation phase and luteal phase.
A healthy Menstrual Phase lasts generally around 4 days. During this time, your basal body temperatures will likely be lower, hovering around 36.4 degrees Celsius.
The Follicular Phase typically overlaps menstruation and starts around Day 3 and continues to Day 12, give or take a day. Your BBT’s will still hover around 36.4 degrees Celsius much of this time.
The Ovulation Phase begins when your BBT’s take a slight dip around Day 13 or 14, commonly. This dip indicates your estrogen levels have peaked, stimulating the pituitary gland to secrete luteinizing hormone (LH) to trigger ovulation – egg release at an ovary. Following this dip in temperature, your BBT will increase substantially over the next 24-36 hours, indicating a successful ovulation.
The Luteal Phase follows the Ovulation Phase typically at around Day 15 or so, and continues for two weeks, if healthy. For most of that time, your temperatures will be much higher than during the Follicular Phase, hovering around 36.8/37 degrees Celsius. This is due to the stimulation of the hormone progesterone after ovulation. If you become pregnant after ovulation, your BBT will remain high after the two week mark, indicating you are likely pregnant. If you are not pregnant, your BBT will start declining a couple of days prior to onset of the menstruation phase again.
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO KNOW WHEN YOU OVULATE
You are only fertile at certain times of your menstrual cycle. The most ideal time to try to get pregnant is around the Ovulation Phase. If your cycle is regularly around 28 days long, we can predict ovulation may be around Day 15. A dip in BBT will occur 24-36 hours prior to this event. Having intercourse a couple of days before ovulation, and through to Day 15, can improve your chances of conception. It gets trickier when there are irregular, lengthened or shortened cycles. This is where tracking your BBT can help you determine IF you are ovulating and when to time intercourse.
HOW TO CHART YOUR BBT
By taking your temperature first thing each morning and plotting the temperature on a chart we can see if/when you ovulate, if there is too much heat or cold in the follicular phase just after a period or too cool in the luteal phase after mid month.
You are looking for a shift in BBT after ovulation making your chart biphasic – showing lower temperatures (36.2 – 36.4 degrees Celsius or so) before ovulation in the follicular phase, and higher ones (36.7 – 37 degrees Celsius or so) after ovulation in the luteal phase (see example Chart below).
I usually recommend using ovulation test strips in conjunction with your BBT charting to provide you with an accurate sense of ovulation. You can get these strips at most pharmacies, on EBAY, and through links on the AcuPlus website in the Resources section.
- ROUTINE: Take your temperature first thing in the morning before you get out of bed or even speak. Timing is important as your temperature will increase with movement and as you become more awake as the morning progresses. Being consistent is also important for tracking. My advice is to leave your thermometer at your bedside within easy reach so you don’t have to move much to get it. If you use a glass thermometer, make sure you shake it down before going to bed. I like digital ones better if you can get one. Some even record the numbers for you.
- TIME of DAY: Try to take the temperature at as close to the same time each day as possible. Perhaps set an alarm if you need to. Staying within a half hour either side of your average time is a good idea because your temperatures can vary with the time (for example, if you usually take your temperature at 6 a.m., it is OK to take your BBT between 5:30-6:30, but the closer to 6 the better).
- SLEEP: It is best to take your BBT after a minimum of 5 hours sleep, and at least 3 hours in a row is preferable.
- WHERE: You can take your temperature orally, vaginally, or rectally. My main request is that you stay with the same method for the entire cycle. It’s best to try to place the thermometer the same way each day (same location of your mouth, same depth vaginally and rectally). If orally, make sure you aren’t a mouth breather all night as this will give a lower temperature.
- GRAPHING: If you would like to plot your own data, I do have charts you can use. They are useful as they have space daily for your various changing symptoms; such as, mucous changes, spotting, bleeding, nausea, changes in bowel function, etc. This can assist us with determining hormonal issues. If you don’t want to do this, there are many Apps for charting available or simply send me your temperatures every few days and I will make a graph. Whether you use my charting sheets, an App or have me graph your number, I always like to review the results with you so you understand your cycle and how we are trying to shift it for you.
- OVULATION: Many women have a temperature drop just before they ovulate – typically arounds Day 10, 11 or 12. This represents a high point in estrogen which stimulates ovulation. If you see this drop, it is a good idea to have sex in case you are ovulating. The only time I ask you to refrain from trying to get pregnant is if we are in the early stages of treatment and still haven’t normalized your cycle. I want you to have a healthy pregnancy.
Below is an example of a BBT chart, in degrees Celsius, where on Day 14 there was a significant temperature dip preceeding the next 24 – 36 hours for ovulation.
- REPETITION: Chart for a few months and look for patterns.
- PREGNANCY: If your temperature stays up for 18 days or more after ovulation, you should test for pregnancy.
One thing to note is that women who ovulate but have irregular cycle lengths, the greatest variation from cycle to cycle should be in the follicular phase. The luteal phase should be relatively constant at 2 weeks, give or take 1 -2 days. So if you have a cycle that ranges from 28-34 days, and a luteal phase of 14 days, ovulation would occur somewhere between days 14-20 – not necessarily the middle of a cycle on Day 14 or 15 . . . Women with long cycles often make this mistake when trying to conceive. Keep in mind though the luteal phase will not be constant if you do not ovulate. The BBT Charts will alert us to hormonal issues indicating problems in the follicular, ovulation or luteal phases. Then you can use acupuncture, herbs and nutrition to regulate them.