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  • Writer's pictureBrandy Oswald

How To Track Basal Body Temperature

Updated: Dec 2, 2023

a basal body fertility thermometer

Today on the Menstrual Mastery podcast we’re talking all about how to track basal body temperature and what the heck it’s actually telling us about our menstrual cycles and fertility.

There are a lot of misconceptions out there about temperature tracking for birth control and pregnancy support. If you’ve ever watched television or movies you’ve likely been led to believe that when temperature rises we have to rush off and start gettin’ busy immediately in order to get pregnant, but that couldn’t be more wrong.

In fact, if you wait until temperature rises to start trying to get pregnant you probably won’t get pregnant.

That’s because temperature rises AFTER ovulation as a result of rising levels of progesterone which we only make after we ovulate. Now, in order to get pregnant you need to be having unprotected intercourse on the approximately 5 days BEFORE ovulation and the day of ovulation.

Once you have ovulated in a menstrual cycle you cannot get pregnant again until the days leading up to ovulation in your next cycle. So, waiting until your temperature rise to try to get pregnant is not a good idea.

What the heck do we use temperature tracking for then?

We use temperature tracking for 4 things…

1. To confirm that ovulation has occurred AFTER it has happened.

2. To identify anovulatory cycles. (No ovulation has occurred).

3. To spot low progesterone or excess estrogen in the post-ovulatory luteal phase of the menstrual cycle.

Temperature tracking allows us to confirm that ovulation has occurred after it has happened which allows us to close our fertile window. This is important for folks using fertility awareness methods of natural birth control because applying the temperature 3 over 6 rule (which I teach in my Cycle Wisdom Course) after ovulation allows us to close our fertile window and clears us for unprotected intercourse until the start of a new cycle. This confirmation of ovulation is also important for couples who are trying to conceive because it allows them to know that they had an ovulatory cycle and that any unprotected intercourse attempts in the 5 days leading up to and during ovulation have the potential to result in a pregnancy.

Similarly tracking temperature can also tell us if ovulation did not occur. If there was no discernable temperature rise on a cycle tracking chart it is possible that ovulation has not yet occurred in that cycle, even if a period has arrived already. This type of period would simply be a breakthrough bleed and not a true period that occurs as a result of ovulation. It is important to know if ovulation has occurred in a cycle not only for pregnancy achievement purposes, but also for birth control tracking. If ovulation has not yet occurred in a cycle it means that we must keep our fertile window open when tracking for birth control. If anovulatory cycles become common it can lead to fertility struggles. But, have no fear - There is much we can do with food, supplements, & lifestyle changes to support regular ovulation naturally! I teach all about this in my Cycle Wisdom Course

Temperature tracking also allows us to spot hormonal imbalance in the luteal phase of the cycle, which is the phase between ovulation and the start of the period bleed. It does so by showing us the relationship between progesterone and estrogen at that time. During this phase of the cycle progesterone should be the dominant hormone. We can see this play out on a cycle tracking chart if temperature rises following ovulation and stays above the cover line (another rule you’ll learn in my Cycle Wisdom Course) until the start of the period. This means that there is likely a healthy production of progesterone which is keeping those temperatures elevated. If temperature, however, is at or below the cover line it is likely that progesterone is low or estrogen is in excess and overpowering it. This cycle imbalance scenario can lead to symptoms like pms, heavy periods, breast tenderness, acne, mood swings, spotting, and fertility struggles.

If we see this type of estrogen/progesterone imbalance in the luteal phase we can take action using simple food, supplement, and lifestyle changes to help correct it naturally and avoid medical intervention with things like hormonal birth control and fertility treatments. Again I teach folks how to work with this imbalance naturally in my Cycle Wisdom Course.

Lastly, temperature tracking helps us know when our period will be arriving. Many women experience a dip in morning temperature on the day that their period will arrive. That’s right, if you wake up in the morning and you’re near the end of your cycle and all of a sudden your temperature is significantly lower than the days before it - it’s likely that your period will arrive in the next 12-24 hours. Best life hack ever!

So, how do we track our temperature?

When tracking temperature for cycle tracking purposes we’re tracking our basal body temperature, which is to say our temperature first thing in the morning before getting out of bed. To do this we use a basal body thermometer that reads out two decimal places. These types of thermometers are available online and at most drugstores in the fertility section. You don’t need a fancy $50 or $100 basal body thermometer. Mine cost $15.

We take our temperature each morning and record it on our cycle tracking charts. In order to turn temperature tracking into a birth control method we have to learn the rules of a fertility awareness method like the sympto-thermal double check method that I teach here at Sauvage Wellness. Cycle tracking on its own is NOT a birth control method. It’s the rules of a fertility awareness method that turns cycle tracking into a birth control method. The rules for temperature are the 3 over 6 rule and the cover line rule, both of which I teach in my Cycle Wisdom Course.

Are you ready to embrace your menstrual cycle for the superpower that it is?

Are you ready to finally learn how your body actually works and use it as natural birth control, to have better periods, or to get pregnant when you’re ready?

Disclaimer: Brandy Oswald, Sauvage Wellness LLC, and her employees are not doctors, nurses, physicians, psychotherapists, or in anyway licensed medical practitioners and information presented here is to serve as an educational resource and not to be interpreted as: (1) medical advice; (2) a 100% effective birth control or pregnancy achievement options or (3) nutrition or health guidelines. By reading this you acknowledge that you understand that as a specialized form of consulting, fertility awareness education is not the same as professional or licensed therapy or medical advice and intervention; and recognize that it is your responsibility to seek such services from a licensed professional. Brandy Oswald is not a medical provider and cannot give medical advice. All information provided by Sauvage Wellness LLC and Brandy Oswald is of a general nature and is intended only for educational purposes to help with your personal health improvement goals and should not be relied on as medical advice. Always consult a physician with any health concerns and prior to changing your diet, lifestyle, supplements, birth control, fitness, or prescription medicine routine. Should you choose to use the information, yoga sequences, and meditations provided by Brandy Oswald it is of your own volition and you recognize that neither Brandy nor Sauvage Wellness LLC is not held liable for any intended or unintended outcomes. All viewers hereby WAIVE AND RELEASE Brandy Oswald and Sauvage Wellness LLC from any claim, demand, cause of action of any kind resulting from or related to my participation in classes, workshops, and all service offerings provided by Brandy and Sauvage Wellness. As a view you hereby acknowledge that you are fully responsible for any and all risks, injuries, or damages, known or unknown, which might occur as a result of your participation.

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