Basal body temperature
|Basal body temperature|
|Birth control type||Fertility awareness|
|Failure rates (first year)|
|User reminders||Dependent upon strict user adherence to methodology|
|Advantages and disadvantages|
|Benefits||No side effects, can aid pregnancy achievement|
Basal body temperature is the lowest body temperature attained by during rest (usually during sleep). It is generally measured immediately after awakening and before any physical activity has been undertaken, although the temperature measured at that time is somewhat higher than the true basal body temperature (see Fig. 1). In women, ovulation causes an increase of one-half to one degree Fahrenheit (one-quarter to one-half degree Celsius) in basal body temperature (BBT); monitoring of BBTs is one way of estimating the day of ovulation. The tendency of a woman to have lower temperatures before ovulation, and higher temperatures afterwards, is known as a biphasic pattern. Charting of this pattern may be used as a component of fertility awareness.
BBT as a birth control method
Hormonal causes of biphasic patterns
The higher levels of estrogen present during the pre-ovulatory (follicular) phase of the menstrual cycle lower BBTs. The higher levels of progesterone released by the corpus luteum after ovulation raise BBTs. The rise in temperatures can most commonly be seen the day after ovulation, but this varies and BBTs can only be used to estimate ovulation within a three day range.
If pregnancy does not occur, the disintegration of the corpus luteum causes a drop in BBTs that roughly coincides with the onset of the next menstruation. If pregnancy does occur, the corpus luteum continues to function (and maintain high BBTs) for the first trimester of the pregnancy. After the first trimester, the woman's body temperature drops to her pre-ovulatory normal as the placenta takes over functions previously performed by the corpus luteum.
While trying to conceive
Regular menstrual cycles are often taken as evidence that a woman is ovulating normally, and irregular cycles is evidence she is not. However, many women with irregular cycles do ovulate normally, and some with regular cycles are actually anovulatory or have a luteal phase defect. Records of basal body temperature can be used to accurately determine if a woman is ovulating, and if the length of the post-ovulatory (luteal) phase of her menstrual cycle is sufficient to sustain a pregnancy. Some fertility computers and software can help a woman to determine these factors.
Pregnancy tests are not accurate until 2–3 weeks after ovulation. Knowing an estimated date of ovulation can prevent a woman from getting false negative results due to testing too early. Also, 18 consecutive days of elevated temperatures means a woman is almost certainly pregnant.
While avoiding pregnancy
Charting of basal body temperatures is used in some methods of fertility awareness, and may be used to determine the onset of post-ovulatory infertility. However, BBTs only show when ovulation has occurred; they do not predict ovulation. Normal sperm life is up to seven to ten days, making prediction of ovulation several days in advance necessary for avoiding pregnancy.
- Döring, GK (June 9, 1967). "The reliability of temperature records as a method of contraception (Über die Zuverlässigkeit der Temperaturmethode zur Empfängnisverhütung)". Deutsche Medizinische Wochenschrift 92 (23): 1055–1061. doi:10.1055/s-0028-1103790. PMID 6024685.
- Kippley, John; Sheila Kippley (1996). The Art of Natural Family Planning (4th ed.). Cincinnati, OH: The Couple to Couple League. pp. 72,298–299. ISBN 0-926412-13-2.
- Weschler, Toni (2002). Taking Charge of Your Fertility (Revised ed.). New York: HarperCollins. p. 316. ISBN 0-06-093764-5.
- Weschler, pp.3-4,155-156, insert p.7
- Weschler, p.374
- Basal Body Temperature Changes - Sign of an Early Pregnancy ?
- BBT Q&A, with an example of a BBT chart
- Free spreadsheet to chart your BBT
- More information on your Basal Body Temperature (BBT)
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