Your Body Has A Natural Thermostat…
Basal body temperature (BBT) refers to your body’s temperature at rest. During your cycle your BBT temperature changes at ovulation as you switch from the follicular phase (oestrogen dominant) to the follicular phase (progesterone dominant). The increase in progesterone just after ovulation raises your BBT by around 0.2-0.4 of a degree. The temperature will drop again once you get your period and progesterone levels fall.
Okay, But Why Is This Important…
BBT charting is an important diagnostic tool and really helpful in understanding when you are ovulating. It allows for a clear picture of when you are ovulating to ensure that you are timing intercourse correctly, as well as identifying any hormonal imbalances that might be occurring during your menstrual cycle.
You are most fertile on the day of the temperature spike and the two days preceding this.
How Do I Take & Record My BBT?
To record your BBT, you need to purchase a digital ovulation thermometer (these are more sensitive and record more specific temperatures than regular thermometers). They are inexpensive and easily available from most chemists.
You can take your temperature orally or vaginally, but usually oral readings are sufficient. It’s important to stick to one consistent method of temperature taking though. When taking your temperature orally, use the same side of your mouth, underneath the tongue.
Your BBT is the lowest temperature your body reaches during rest, therefore the temperature needs to be measured first thing in the morning after at least four hours of solid sleep.
When recording your temperature on a BBT chart, it’s important that you:
– Take your temperature immediately when you wake up (before getting out of bed, speaking, drinking or looking at your phone)
– Try to be consistent with taking your temperature at around the same time each morning.
– Start a new chart on Day 1 of your menstrual cycle (first day of full flow bleeding).
The easiest way to record your temperatures is with a smart phone app – I recommend using ‘Fertility Friend’. You can also include information around the quality of your period and cervical mucous.
A completed chart can be emailed to me for interpretation (the ‘Fertility Friend’ app provides this as an option from the menu). A chart is considered complete when you have gone through one full menstrual cycle (day 1 of your period up until the day before your next period)
But My Temperatures Aren’t Consistent…
It is normal for your temperatures to rise and drop day-to-day, the individual temperatures are not as important as the overall pattern the chart will show.
Drinking alcohol the night before, illness and overexercising may also have an impact on your BBT.
What’s For Dinner?
A diet rich in omega fatty acids, various vitamins (C, D, E & all the Bs), minerals (zinc, selenium) and antioxidants is important – fish, shellfish & seafood, poultry, nuts, beans, whole grains (such as quinoa, oats, barley and brown rice), dark chocolate and fresh fruits and veges are all good sources.
Try to avoid or limit any foods that are heavily processed, high in saturated or trans fats or high in sugar. This includes things like processed meats (salami, ham, bacon, sausages), full-fat dairy products, soy products, soft drinks and alcohol.
Quality! Quality! Quality!
Eat organic foods where possible. Avoid buying cheap meat, dairy and eggs as commercial farming practices often add hormones to animal feed to increase animal growth and/or output.
While our hydration requirements vary day-to-day and person-to-person 2 litres daily (8 glasses) is a good target to work towards. The body needs plenty of water to ensure uptake of nutrients and cellular health.
Plastic Is Bad For The Body!
Plastic bottles, containers and cooking utensils also contain xenoestrogens which are particularly bad when the plastic is heated. Store food in glass or ceramic containers and invest in a reusable drink bottle.
Look After Your Skin!
In addition to xenoestrogens which can be found in anti-perspirant deodorants and sunscreen, many skincare products, hair dyes, shampoos, body washes and soaps contain chemicals which can disrupt our hormones. In particular, look for products which are free from phthalates.
Put Down The Wine & Smokes!
Smoking and recreational drugs are harmful to most aspects of your health and your fertility is not exempt! They can interfere with both fertilization and implantation, reduce egg quality and prematurely age the ovaries.
Alcohol is linked with a decreased capacity to be able to conceive, and can damage a growing foetus. Alcohol also affect oestrogen levels which in turn can prevent egg implantation in the uterus.
Hit The Gym!
Regular light exercise daily is important – a minimum of 30 mins of physical activity per day is optimal. But moderation is important here; Excessive exercise can also be harmful!
Being either overweight or underweight can result in increased time to conceive, lower rates of natural conception, higher risk of miscarriage and increased risk of pregnancy complications (high blood pressure, blood clots, gestational diabetes)
Catch Up On Your Z’s!
Good quality sleep is important for good quality sperm. The usual sleep hygiene rules apply here – no caffeine after 3pm, No technology an hour before bed, sticking to a routine and getting at least 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
Chill Out Already!
Stress has a substantial impact of our body’s hormonal regulation and therefore the quality of our eggs. Stress management and self-care practices are important in mitigating this, and are important for supporting your general health and wellbeing.
Some options to consider include meditation, yoga, going for a long walk, playing sport reading a book, playing video games, catching up with a friend, speaking with a therapist or getting acupuncture. Effective stress management should leave you feeling happy and relaxed, but how you achieve this is up to you.
Take Your Pills!
There is a good chance I have recommended that you take some herbs or supplements to assist with improving your fertility. Please make sure that you are taking these as recommended and aren’t missing doses.
I Don’t Want To Talk About It…
It can sometimes be embarrassing or confronting to talk about your sexual and reproductive health. However it is really important to mention any other conditions you are currently or have previously experienced such as recurrent UTI’s, STI’s, yeast infections or abortions. Trust me, it’s more common than you think.
TRYING TO CONCIEVE
Timing Is Everything!
Conception is possible from 6 days before you partner ovulates up until the day after. The 2-4 days before ovulation are the most important days to try and conceive. You should be having sex daily over this period.
You are strongly encouraged to try and orgasm each time you have intercourse. When you orgasm it helps to draw semen into the cervix, thus resulting in higher numbers of sperm reaching the fallopian tube for fertilisation.
YOUR NEXT APPOINTMENT
I strongly recommend that you come and see me once a week over 10-12 weeks. This is so we can optimise your treatment and make sure you are staying on track with any dietary and lifestyle modifications.
If you haven’t already, please bring any relevant test results you may have (blood tests, ultrasounds etc)