BBT Works for Me

Posted: April 14, 2010 at 6:36 am

***Warning: If you are a male reader or a don't care about the nitty gritty girly details reader, you may want to skip this pots.***

I have mentioned a few times about some natural tools to track your monthly cycle. Since coming off the pill about 3 years ago, I have become a big advocate of not using hormones in our bodies. I think contraceptives that use hormones will often mask our body's inner workings and hide problems that may be occurring. I believe it is best for us to be knowledgeable about our bodies and how they function. And this information becomes very useful if you ever have to take a closer look at your fertility, hormone levels, or any other related health factors.

I understand that we all have to choose the method that works best for us. But I also stand by the fact that knowledge is power and hope to share some information you may not be aware of otherwise. This method of naturally tracking cycles is called Basal Body Temperature (aka BBT) charting. There are many online charting tools you can use, that will help determine the various phases of your cycle. My favorite is called Fertility Friend. And although the site is geared towards trying to conceive, this method could still be effective at preventing pregnancy when you time intercourse and use other non-hormonal contraceptives during particular phases of your cycle.

Now, how does it work? The charting itself is pretty simple. You simply take your temperature (a digital thermometer with a reading to the 100th degree is best) first thing in the morning upon waking. It is best to get the temperature at around the same time each morning, before rising, and after a solid few hours of sleep. [Source]

You then input the information into a graph type chart each day, either online or manually. After an entire cycle your chart will look something like this.

If you notice, there are two distinct parts of the cycle. Within these two distinguished sections there are four important things to consider. The start of your cycle is your menstruation. You are generally not fertile during this time. During this time, your body secretes a hormone called GnRH that signals your body to secrete the hormones to stimulate follicular development in your ovaries.

After menstruation, your body enters the Follicular Phase in which you release more estrogen to begin thickening your lining and preparing your body for a possible pregnancy. In simple language, this is when your body prepares to release an egg. The estrogen levels cause your BBT to be lower. These lower temperatures help distinguish this phase of your cycle and when ovulation occurs.

Ovulation will approach when there is a surge of estrogen that causes the production of Luteinizing Hormone, the hormone that causes the release of the egg. After the egg is released, estrogen levels drop dramatically and progesterone begins to dominate. With the decrease in estrogen and rise in progesterone, your BBT also shifts accordingly. Your temperatures will rise at this point.

Chart of All Phases


You can determine ovulation using temperature charting by distinguishing a distinct and sustained shift to higher temperatures. For example, in the Follicular Phase your temperatures may consistently be around 97.5, but after ovulation your temperature would be above 98. Even though it seems small, you should be able to recognize a clear difference in temperature levels over the course of your cycle. And ovulation can be pinpointed as the day before you see the temperature rise.

After ovulation your body is in the Luteal Phase. This lasts for an average of 12-16 days until your next menstruation. It is the waiting period for a possibly fertilized egg to implant and begin growing. If you conceived your temperatures would stay higher, otherwise you would see a drop that signifies progesterone levels decreasing and the start of your next cycle.

I know it sounds like a lot. But it is really useful and interesting to see. You will begin to notice that your body will ovulate around the same time every month, if not the same day each month. Really knowing your body and how it works can provide enough information to fit your current needs and wishes, without having anything affect your hormones. I plan to always use this method until the hubs gets the snip snip. I know this may not be for everyone, but I can certainly recommend it from my own experience.

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23 Comments to “BBT Works for Me”
  1. inmytummy says:

    I find this interesting. I hate taking hormones everyday. Although I still do it.

  2. Vee says:

    This is very useful. I am considering finally stopping taking all those hormones and doing something natural. Thanks for all this info. It has helped a great deal!

  3. I find this really interesting. I went on the pill at a young age to regulate my cycles and have never gone off it since. I completely forget what its like to not be regulated. I never knew about body temperature and how it fluxuates. Thanks for the information!

  4. Mellissa says:

    Thanks for posting this- I just bought Taking Charge of Your Fertility and am not taking my next pack of pills and will be using charting to prevent until we are ready to have kids (maybe in a year). I am dealing with some side effects from the Pill and it just isn’t worth it anymore.

  5. Need post 🙂 I would definetly consider using that method when I’m married (aka if it went wrong at a time in my life when I could have a child). For now, hormones it is! Lol

    Thanks for the lifting advice 🙂

  6. Salah says:

    this was really interesting. i’m only on BC b/c I used to only get my cycle once every 4 months for 2 full weeks and it was too heavy. So I really only use it for regulation.

  7. LOVE it!! This is the way my husband and I handle my fertility. It’s really an awesome way to go.

  8. Morgan says:

    I definitely don’t want to go back on the pill after the baby comes and plan to use this until we are ready for another one. I actually charted before getting pregnant but I don’t know if it worked b/c we got lucky on our first shot. But I know it works!

  9. Lindsey says:

    really helpful info. I’ve been wanting to get off my BC for a while. Maybe after my marathon in May I’ll try to convince the Hubby this method will still work, if tracked properly.

  10. Heather says:

    interesting…i don’t know if i feel comfortable doing this, so rather than take the pill we use other forms of BC. i just felt that injecting my body with chemicals was NOT the way to go!

  11. Kelly says:

    That was a GREAT read. Very interesting!

  12. Thank you for this post! I really hate taking bcp, but we’re just not ina place right now where we can risk having a baby. But it’s good to know of someone who this method is working for!

  13. cardiopizza says:

    Very interesting, Tina!

    I’ve been on the pill for almost 4 years…when I started dating Andy 😉

    I don’t know what it’s like NOT to be on it…

  14. who knew?!?! I just learned something new! thank you Tina 🙂

    Im with Lindsey…I have been on the pill for about 6 years, I don’t remember whats its like to NOT be on it

  15. Sarah says:

    Hi, Tina! It’s nice to “meet” you. I still need to update my blogroll big time, but in the meantime I’ll add your blog to my google reader. I’m looking forward to reading more posts! It’s funny that this is the post that I happened to meet you on, because I am actually trying to conceive (I know you are writing about natural birth control methods, but the information still applies), and I have lots to learn.
    I hope your day is beautiful, whatever you may be doing!

  16. Hey, Tina!! I love the information in this post. I found it so interesting and something I’d love to try. I have been on the pill for a long time to regulate periods/help with heavy flow and I would love to try a more natural route. I don’t want to be taking hormones for such an extended period of time and this looks like a really good option. Thanks for sharing!!

  17. homecookedem says:

    Lots of great info here!! I’ve been tracking my temps for a few months now and unfortunately, for someone with PCOS like myself, my cycle doesn’t always look like this classic chart. In fact mine never has since I’ve been recording my temps. If you saw my graph it would basically be a straight line with a few zigs here and a few zags there. I kind of have no choice but to take progesterone to even get a period. And I’ve been taking clomid for the past 2 months, but still not ovulating. Sighhhh… it’s very frustrating and I only wish I was able to feel normal and use BBT to keep track of things. Sorry to be a downer, it’s just been a hard couple days in the female reproductive dept. for me, haha! 😉 I’m blaming it on hormones, haha!! 🙂

    • Tina says:

      There are definitely situations where tracking doesn’t leave a “neat” chart. I really feel for you! And I have been praying for you too. Hugs, sweetie!

  18. I read Taking Charge of Your Fertility a few years ago. It was very helpful. However, I’m still too scared to go off the hormones. I’m seriously considering doing it this summer though. I’ve heard that when you officially go off of them, it can make you feel kinda crummy for awhile.

  19. Great post! My husband and I actually practice Natural Family Planning (NFP) and began practicing for both spiritual (openness to life) and health reasons (no junk in my body!) and I’m so glad we did! In fact, I’ve never been on the pill and never will be! 🙂

  20. Mary says:

    You did a great job explaining BBT! I started tracking my temp while TTC baby #2 almost three years ago. It helped me to realize I was misdiagnosed with PCOS, and that my cycles are 5 weeks long! I almost always ovulate on CD 21. I thought I was unable to conceive, and now I have two amazing children. I highly advise BBT while trying to conceive!

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