One of things we do a lot of at Natural Solutions is helping people improve their fertility. Most couples that struggle to fall pregnant have been through all the standard testing and have heard that there is nothing that can be done except start an IVF process. Others have already been doing IVF for a while with poor results. This is where Western medicine doesn’t have much to offer and alternative treatments like acupuncture can be very helpful.
One of the most basic things we use in clinic to find out some of the reasons behind infertility and also to help us improve a couples fertility is the woman’s basal body temperature.
What is the basal body temperature (BBT)?
The basal body temperature (BBT) is the lowest measurement of the body’s temperature, measured in the morning on waking. It is called ‘basal’ because it is measured when the body is deeply rested and the body’s metabolism is at it’s baseline.
How do I measure my BBT?
You will need a reliable digital thermometer and a chart, you can use a paper chart (see picture) or one of the many available phone apps to chart your cycle. You also need a good night’s sleep to get an accurate reading, at least 3-4 hours of unbroken sleep before you measure your BBT. It is ideal to start recording your BBT’s at day 1 of your cycle (the first day of bleeding) but for those women not having regular periods you can start at any time. Keep the thermometer on your bedside table so you can check your BBT before you get up. On waking in the morning place the thermometer in your mouth and when it is finished record the BBT in your chart. It is important that the temperature is read at roughly the same time each morning, because later waking raises the BBT. If you take it later than usual you can adjust your reading by adding 0.09 for each hour of delay. If you take it earlier than usual adjust it by subtracting 0.09 for each hour. A great app to use to keep all your data is Fertility Friend FF app. It is free, user friendly and very easy for us to read.
What does a BBT chart tell us?
Throughout the menstrual cycle there are several hormonal fluctuations: Day 1-5: Hormone levels (oestrogen and progesterone) are low which causes the period flow to start. The pituitary gland will start to produce hormones (FSH and LH) to stimulate the growth of new follicles. Day 7-12: The oestrogen levels are high. Day 12-13: The oestrogen levels continue to be high which causes the pituitary gland to release a surge of the hormone LH. Day 14: The egg is released. Day 15-25: Progesterone levels rise. Day 25-28: The levels of progesterone and oestrogen start to drop if there is no pregnancy. These hormonal fluctuations cause changes in temperature.
A typical BBT chart (see picture) will have lower temperatures during the first half of the cycle (average range 36.2-6.5) and after ovulation there should be a temperature rise of 0.3-0.4. During the luteal phase (the phase from ovulation to period) the BBT should remain at the higher level for 12-14 days. When we read BBT charts we look at each of the phases and check if they have the right length, are in the right temperature range and if the temperatures are stable.
How does a BBT chart help us?
A BBT chart gives us a very detailed picture of what is happening inside the body at each part of your cycle. It gives us lots of helpful information. It tells us what we have to focus our treatments on to optimise your fertility. Improving your BBT chart has a direct correlation to improving your fertility.
How do we use BBT charts in Chinese medicine?
The information we get from the BBT chart helps us determine how we can best help you. For example, if the readings are consistently low we know that we need to warm the body and we can use specific acupuncture points and techniques and/or herbs for that. Or if for instance the chart shows problems at a particular time of the cycle we know exactly when to apply acupuncture or herbs. It personalises what we do and how we do it to get you optimal results.
Do I need to start taking my BBT’s before commencing acupuncture?
If you have been taking your BBT’s for a while please bring them in for your first consultation it will help us a lot and give us a clear picture from the start. If you’re new to this you can come in and start your acupuncture and we’ll most likely ask you to start charting your BBT’s. We have plenty of other ways to diagnose so that we can make a start whilst we getting the BBT data.
How do I make an appointment?
Making an appointment is easy, click here to get one online. You can phone or message us or send us an email if you prefer.