Now that we’ve covered observing your mucus phase, let’s move on to charting your basal body temperature (BBT). There are many sample sights available on the Internet. Just type, “Basal Body Temperature Charts”, into your search engine and you’ll be on your way. There are also sample charts for copying in the book, Taking Charge of Your Fertility, The Infinitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, by Toni Weschler.
First, you will need to purchase a BBT thermometer. Yes, there is a specific thermometer for this charting method. A regular thermometer will not work. I was a victim of this misunderstanding when I first began NFP, boy was I confused.
Once you have purchased the BBT thermometer, you can begin taking your temp the day after the last day of your menstrual cycle. It is very important that you take your temperature every day at the same time, ideally in the morning before ever getting out of bed. This is no big deal. Simply enough, just place the thermometer on your nightstand and take your temp every morning before you get up. Once you have taken the temp write it down on the BBT chart. If you do happen to miss a day, don’t panic, use the law of averages to chart your temp that day.
By marking your temp each day on the chart, you will soon see a pattern form. Along the way draw a line from each dot (recording) to the next. This will allow you to see the dips and rises in the temp. The day before ovulation your temp will dip proceeded by a spike in temp the next day, indicating ovulation has occurred. Once ovulation occurs the temp will drop back down if conception has not occurred. If, however, conception has occurred, the temp will remain elevated without dropping again.
Using the charting method can be very beneficial in identifying several important factors of your cycle. One of these being your luteal phase(LP), otherwise known as days past ovulation(DPO). The LP is very important in pregnancy achievement. The LP is identified as the day after ovulation throughout the remainder of the cycle. A woman’s pre-ovulatory cycle may vary, however, LP usually stays the same. It is during the LP that the hormone progesterone is produced elevating the woman’s temp. This is important for the maturing of a fertilized egg after conception has occurred. An LP needs to be long enough to provide adequate temps to incubate the fertilized egg. If your charting allows you to identify a short LP, you may suffer from an LP defect. This is a common infertility problem. An LP needs to be at least 10 days long for implantation to occur.
Charting can also identify delayed ovulation. Contrary to popular belief, not all women ovulate on day 14 of their cycle. Ovulation can happen at a number of different times for the same woman. Delayed ovulation can be caused by many factors, stress, illness, medications, increased physical activity, etc.
Many women will realize once they begin charting, that what they once thought were late menstrual cycles, were actually periods of delayed ovulation. The LP can not occur until ovulation has taken place. Since a woman’s LP is most always the same, you can determine the exact time that you will start your menstrual cycle. Delayed ovulation will not trigger a short LP, but it will cause you to start your menstrual cycle later than expected, once the LP is completed.
Now that we have covered how to identify your cycle, you can start charting and using it to your benefit. In next month’s article, I will discuss timing intercourse based on your chart, using it to your advantage, be it to avoid or achieve conception.