Having fertility awareness, allows you to take charge of your fertility by being able to confidently track your fertile days, which is only about 3-5 days each month. With this knowledge you can optimize your chances of conception by accurately being able to time intercourse. If you do not want to get pregnant than you can abstain or use barrier methods of contraception at this time. Outside this small window you are not fertile so why mess with your hormones, have implants or any ongoing medications when you can simply modify your behavior.
The Fertility Awareness Method, involves recording your body temperature each morning, and looking out for changers in your cervical mucus. That’s it, this is all you really need for a basic understanding of where and what your body is doing at each stage of your cycle.
Other things that you can note are positions of the cervix and recording changers in breast symptoms, abdominal symptoms and bleeding patterns. All can help you form a much bigger picture, providing insight into the ebbing and flowing of hormonal changers each month.
By regularly tracking your cycles you will be able to optimise your chance of pregnancy by better identifying your fertile window because not every woman is textbook and not every woman ovulates on day 14. If you are using a tracking app it is important not to solely rely on the algorithms. The female body is not a computer, and our cycles are not necessarily identical each month. Using an app is a great way to record your fertility awareness data but it is important to remember not to get lazy and rely on the predictions. To be accurate you need to do a cycle to cycle assessment, as timing can be affected by life events. Stress, drugs- prescription and recreational, travel, ill-health, peri-menopause, diet, fasting or any other major change in circumstance can influence your cycle by causing an increase or delay in ovulation and menstruation.
Why record your Basal Body Temperature (BBT)?
By recording Your Basal Body Temperature (BBT), you can gain so much information about
how your body is functioning.
It can tell you:
· How your thyroid is functioning
· When stress or exercise is impacting your adrenal health.
· You will be able to identify your fertile window by confirming if and when you ovulated.
· Helps to identify any potential hormonal and fertility problems.
· Predict ovulation for future cycles.
What you will discover by taking your BBT.
You will see that the charts you get from taking your temperature each day of your cycle, are biphasic meaning that you will get two distinct areas of your cycle, the Follicular (1st half- before ovulation) and the Luteal phase (2nd half- after ovulation).
You will notice that in the first half of your cycle, (the follicular phase) you will record relatively lower temperatures as compared to the luteal phase which will be 0.3-0.4°C higher. This thermal shift is your confirmation that ovulation has occurred; you will need 3 consecutive higher readings to confirm this. The rise in temperature is due to the increasing Progesterone that occurs after ovulation and should hold for about 12-14 days then drop just before or when the period returns.
By using the data collected from previous cycles you will be able to measure the length of each stage of your cycle in days, allowing you to better identify any potential fertility problems as well as be able to predict ovulation for future cycles.
Follicular Phase Luteal Phase
If pregnancy occurs you should see a steady rise in temperatures for several weeks with an absence of period.
If you are preventing pregnancy you will be infertile on either side of your fertile window so after ovulation has been confirmed with no less than 3 days of higher temperatures you will no longer be fertile in this cycle and won’t be able to get pregnant if you choose to have intercourse at this time.
How to Begin tracking your BBT
· Get yourself a BBT thermometer and keep it on your beside table.
· You will need to set your alarm clock as you will need to take your temperature at the same time each morning upon waking.
· It’s important that you take a reading before getting up and try not to move around too much beforehand. You will need to have a minimum of about 4 hours sleep before recording, this is because what we are measuring here is the resting metabolism rate, so we have to catch our temperature reading right when our temperature is at its base line and too much stirring or movement can alter the temperature.
· Place the thermometer under your tongue. Rest with your eyes closed until the thermometer beeps (up to 90 seconds), then remove it and record the temperature.
· *** TIP- if it is much too early in the morning, most thermometers have a setting where if you hold the button once and turn it off it will remember the reading the next time you turn it on. So, if you feel you just need a few more minutes sleep you can read and record your data later once you have woken up properly. Always note the time you took the reading ***
· Technology can be really helpful here, there is not many people who don’t have a smart phone these days and because this part requires consistency in order become a part of your daily routine, by recording it on your phone means you can be sure to never miss a reading. There are so many applications that you can use to track your periods and temperatures, but here is just a couple I recommended for charting from your phone as they contain all the necessary tracking information. These can also be shared directly with me where I can help you to analyse your data. So, to begin please download one of these apps on your mobile phone.
I look forward to helping you interpret your results.