Simmering Hope

Hope is the expectation that something outside of ourselves, something or someone external, is going to come to our rescue and we will live happily ever after. – Dr. Robert Anthony

Apr 5, 2009

Temperature as ovulation prediction

I can’t emphasize how important it is to understand your body. You have to learn to understand it because very often the signals sent out are lost because you don’t know what to look for.

You start your journey thorough infertility with a mix of hope and disappointment; with lots of envy seeing all the pregnant ladies and questions like ‘why I am the only one not able to conceive?’
First of all you are not alone, I was walking in your shoes not so long time ago and like me are lots of other women. If you are not fortunate enough to get pregnant just seeing a penis, you have to put extra effort. Life is not fair and most of all, we are not born equal, regardless what your priest my tell you.

Now that you know you have to do extra work for something that other women take for granted, let’s start with a very easy but important step.
Taking your temperature.
Do yourself a favor and go to the pharmacy and purchase a basal thermometer.
Down the road you are going to understand better how fragile the balance between estrogen and progesterone is and at the same time how important for conceiving is.

Let’s start with: Cycle overview
The first day of the dreadful period is the beginning of a new cycle. From this moment until ovulation occurs, the temperature starts dropping.
During the first part of the cycle the temperature is anywhere between 96.5 and 97.5°F. The temperature is low due to the presence of estrogen in higher amount.
In majority of the cases, the transition from estrogen dominated phase to the progesterone dominated one is marked by a thermal shift. How big is the temperature rise? It depends on the body, but as a rule of thumb, a minimum of 0.4 to 0.6°F should occur.
Between 24 and 48 hours after the temperature shift, the ovulation is said to occur.
We enter into the progesterone dominated phase, when the temperature rises to ensure a warm and fertile environment for the fecundated egg to implant and develop.

Let’s move on to the next step: Taking the temperature
As I have mentioned above, you have to get a basal thermometer, but from my experience, a digital one works fine as well.
Over the years I had 2 glass basal thermometers.
Pros: Not very expensive and they were accurate.
Cons: Glass. I broke one while washing it after one use.
Then I switched to a digital thermometer. It’s got a temperature probe capable of pretty accurate reading.
You don’t need a super scientific precision, all you need is to identify the thermal shift, meaning that any accuracy will do it.
Pros: Flexible tip, easy to insert the thermometer in the vagina (I highly recommend taking the temperature vaginally, because it’s by far the most reliable one).
Cons: More expensive than glass ones.

– It’s very important NOT to switch from one thermometer to another within any given cycle!!!
If possible use only one thermometer for the whole time you monitor your cycles. That’s why the glass thermometer may become a liability down the road.
– Make up your mind if you want to take your temperature vaginally or orally before starting monitoring your cycles. They differ a lot!! Vaginal temperature is higher than the oral one.

When to take the temperature?
There are many school of thoughts, the most popular one recommends taking the temperature first thing in the morning, after at least 4 hour sleep, while still in bed.

Also it’s said that it’s pretty important to take the temperature at the same time each day.
I did not take it at the same time for the simple reason that I did not want to wake up in weekend at the same time I woke up during the week. But to be true, during the week I used to wake up at 6:30 and in weekends I slept until 7:30. One hour would not make a big difference, if any at all.
Of course that if you usually sleep until noon in weekends, you will have to wake up earlier, please don’t follow my ‘it-does-not-matter-it’s-weekend’ rule.

Next step: What to do with the temps?
That is simple : you have to make a chart.
You can use a simple excel spreadsheet, handy to everybody. Enter the data and get the graph.
Or you can go on line and download a more fancy version. Following is an example of charting with the software provided by site.


As you could see in the graph, along with the temperature it’s good to record the cervical mucus. It’s an important tool to evaluate the changes that occur within your body. A normal mucus should be translucent, increasing in quantity around ovulation time. You are going to see that right after the end of the period, there are going to be some ‘dry’ days, with hardly any mucus. Approaching ovulation, it should be an increase in the quantity and the aspect. The mucus will ensure a nutritious medium for the sperm as well.

From the graph you will see how long is the time between ovulation and the onset of the next period. This is called the luteal phase (LP) and a normal one should be about 13 days. If the ovulation is not a fix date or time of the month, the LP should be almost the same, plus or minus a day. If the LP is too short, you have to work something on prolonging it. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We’ll talk about it more later on.

Pay attention as well to your libido; it tends to increase around ovulation time. I guess the Mother Nature is sending signals that it’s time to procreate.

Now you know what to start with.
Let’s summarize:

1. Purchase a thermometer
2. Get a blank graph
3. Start taking Folic Acid. It won’t influence your temperature but it’s extremely important to prevent neural defects in your baby. So, just in case, take your Folic Acid: 1 mg per day.
4. Take your temperature and record it in the graph. After two-three months you are going to get a clearer picture about your body. You will see IF you ovulate and IF your luteal phase is long enough. It is said that a shorter than a 8 days one won’t allow the fertilized egg to burrow into the uterine wall before the next cycle is scheduled to start. As well, you will understand if you have enough cervical mucus to provide the nutrient medium for the sperm to survive until it fertilizes the egg.

Please keep in mind that fertility chart is to be used as a tool only, because for every rule, there is an exception. There are many other factors to take into account and we are going to talk about them in the further installments.
We are going to talk about Dong Quai, Maca, Black Cohosh and Evening Primrose Oil, Selenium and other important minerals and vitamins to be taken. I will tell you when and how to take them.

Until then, Good Luck!

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