Imagine no longer being surprised by a menstrual period while on vacation, knowing the best time to have intercourse for those trying to conceive, and being aware of high-risk times for those trying to avoid unwanted pregnancy. For women with concerns about fertility, PMS and other menstrual symptoms, those with hormonal irregularities, those who are interested in a natural, yet effective form of birth control and those who are simply interested in learning more about their bodies and menstrual cycles, BBT Charting is an important holistic practice to adapt.
BBT charting, or Basal Body Temperature Charting, involves recording waking temperature every morning and tracking these numbers on a graph. The premise is that temperature spikes after ovulation and remains high until the end of the cycle when menses begins. The pattern of temperature spikes can tell you and your alternative health practitioner a good amount of information about your body and your hormonal cycles. BBT Charts tell us:
– When ovulation occurs each month: making it easy to time intercourse to optimize fertility.
– Information about exactly where you are on your cycle, allowing you to time medical procedures, such as IVF, or certain diagnostic tests that must be done at a certain time during the cycle.
– When ovulation is impending: making it easy to avoid intercourse (or use another form of protection) during this time of month to prevent unwanted pregnancy.
– An idea about hormone levels and stress levels.
– When to expect menstruation each month.
– Information about the role of your cycle in influencing certain health concerns such as migraines, food cravings, weight gain or acne.
– Information for screening for and tracking hormonal conditions such as PCOS, hypothyroidism or peri-menopause that your OB-Gyn or naturopathic doctor will find useful.
– Information about your body’s natural rhythms and cycles.
An oral thermometer and a Basal Body Temperature graph (click on the downloadable BBT chart template included at the bottom of this post). Leave both on your bed-side table so that you can easily access them on waking without getting out of bed or moving too much.
Determine which day you are on in your cycle (the first day of menses is day 1, so count backwards from there to determine which day you are currently on).
Keep the thermometer and chart by your bed and, before getting up, drinking water or doing anything, take your temperature upon waking.
Try to take your temperature at the same time every morning.
For best accuracy, take your temperature three times and record the average of the three. (temperature 1 + temperature 2 + temperature 3) / 3 = average temperature.
Record the temperature on the Basal Body Temperature Graph rounded to 1 decimal point by circling the corresponding number.
Charting Cervical Fluid:
Throughout the month the body produces cervical fluid as a response to certain hormone levels. The texture and appearance of the cervical fluid depends on which hormones are being released and this provides information about when the body is preparing for ovulation. After menstruation, cervical fluid builds up, from a sticky paste, to a creamier lotion until reaching a clear, fluid egg white consistency. The egg white cervical fluid is the most fertile fluid and lasts until ovulation occurs. Therefore, the peak day for female fertility is the last day that this egg white fluid is seen.
Checking cervical fluid is simple: every time you use the bathroom (at least 3 times a day), observe your body’s cervical fluid and, at the end of the day, record the sensation and appearance of the fluid on a space on your BBT Chart.
The combination of waking Basal Body Temperature and cervical fluid consistency provide valuable information about hormone levels and the body’s cyclical rhythms.
For further reading about BBT Charting and adapting the practice of natural birth control, consult the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler.