Oh, to understand my BBT…

Recently, I talked about my bipolar BBT. While it used to stay pretty steady around 97.18°F (before ovulation), it’s been unpredictable ever since the loss of Teddy Graham, and has become much more so in the last two months. Of course, this has forced me into googling the heck out of it. And here are a few interesting things I have found related to temping:

  • Normal temps in the follicular phase are 97.0-97.7°F (36.11-36.5°C for my readers abroad) and 97.7-97.9°F (36.5-37.22°C) in the luteal phase.
  • The most accurate way to take your BBT is vaginally or rectally. (Um, no thanks!)
  • Factors that control the BBT are: nutrition, estrogen levels, cortisol levels, stress (or lack thereof), quality of sleep, your thyroid, and the weather.
  • High fat intake and alcohol can increase your BBT. Sleeping with your mouth open can decrease it.
  • Some fluctuation is normal, but too much should be looked into. (Sources disagree on what “too much” is. Most say there should not be more than a day-to-day difference of .5, but one did say not more than a full degree.)
  • It’s normal to have erratic BBTs during your period.
  • For a very unstable BBT, estrogen, progesterone, prolactin, and thyroid hormone levels should be checked.
  • With thyroid problems, temperatures may be too high or too low. With stress, temps are often unstable (very different every day). And with major hormonal imbalances, the length of the follicular phase is often too long or too short (this can also be caused by PCOS, nutritional deficiencies, and lack of blood flow to the uterus).
  • Clomid can cause higher temps around the time of taking the actual medication and is also more likely to cause a triphasic chart even when no pregnancy is achieved. (It is also more common to have a long luteal phase when on this med.)
  • Temperatures that are increased for 18 days or more are usually an indication of pregnancy, but can also be caused by an extended luteal phase that results from a corpus luteum cyst or from taking Clomid.
  • After ovulation, it can be normal to see a dip in temperature (even below the coverline), which is caused by a secondary estrogen surge and may also cause extra CM. The temp should go back above the coverline after this surge, however. (I saw this in both of my pregnancies, so I know it’s true!)
  • Temps may dip at the time of embryo implantation, and then rise again as more progesterone is produced.
  • Stress can mess with cortisol levels, which can in turn lower the amount of progesterone produced by your body and cause your temp to drop prematurely and your cycle to be shorter than usual.
  • Emotional stress often reveals itself as an up and down movement of temperature from one day to the next.

(See Source (A), Source (B), and Source (C) for more.)

So that’s a whole lot of info…and who knows if any of it is accurate? You know Dr. Google!  But it’s given me a starting point to figuring all of this out and I’m most interested in the last two points. My last cycle was the shortest one I’ve had. Ever. And my temp has been bouncing up and down every. single. day.  So is it stress causing all of this craziness, like my sources say? It would make sense, wouldn’t it?  TTC and infertility is too much stress for anyone, but add to that the loss of a baby and my relationship with my sis and I feel like I’ve never been under more stress in my life.

It’s a lot to handle and so I think my new focus will be reducing the stressors in my life. It would be impossible to eradicate them all, but I will do what I can. My husband asked me the other day, “Are you feeling relaxed?” And I responded with “I don’t know. How do I tell?,” which he found hilarious and concerning. It’s true — I don’t even know how to sit still and put my feet up and relax. I don’t know what that feels like. So it’s time to change it. It’s time to go a little slower, limit my “to do” list, have some idle and quiet time, and take care of myself.

What do all of you do to relax and reduce stress at the most stressful times in your lives?

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24 thoughts on “Oh, to understand my BBT…

  1. I’m no expert on BBTs, but your stress theory sounds plausible to me. At any rate, it’s never a bad idea to reduce stress, even if it isn’t the culprit in this particular case.

    Things I do to reduce stress: exercise (usually walking or biking), read, meditate, and watch mindless and/or funny shows/movies.

  2. Whew. This is exactly why I don’t temp anymore! It adds too much stress and extra obsession to my life. It is really hard to deal with the stress of infertility and grief of a miscarriage. I go to a community acupuncture clinic for low cost treatment and relaxation. I also read, run and have lots of wine and Margaritas before ovulation and on my period. I used to do yoga also, but I’ve been slacking. It’s hard to find the time, but once you find outlets to relieve a little of the stress it will help. A little. 😉

  3. I never worried about the temps themselves as much as the pattern (lower temps pre O, a dip at ovulation (mine did that, not all do), and then temps above coverline after. ) as I was told that was more important than the numbers themselves because I was worried that some of my pre O temps were too low (sometimes 96.7 ish) Sometimes I had weird ones.
    It does make sense that maybe stress is affecting your BBT right now, and I think miscarriages can mess with your system for a bit afterwards, too.
    Exercise has always helped keep my stress down – that and planning for dinners with friends or finding some hobby to keep myself busy. Lots of distractions!

  4. Sounds like stress is definitely the culprit for your BBT’s.

    I’m a crafter, so to relieve stress I do that, or bake. To me it’s great because it takes your mind off of what you’re thinking about to stress yourself out, but it doesn’t take too much energy/brain power to do. And in the end there is a result so you don’t feel like you wasted your time (which I’m sometimes guilty of feeling).

  5. I can’t really comment on the BBT’s because I’ve never been able to do them with accurate results due to the insomnia. I do wish you the best of luck on learning how to relax a little. Find something that you can get lost in for a little while each day. My escape is reading. Give me a decent piece of fiction and I’m transported to whatever is going on in the book.

  6. Thanks for sharing! I’ve never been good at tracking my BBT but this list has given me some good insight. Hmmm…maybe I’ll give it another shot. And based on what I’ve read from your blog, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if stress was the main factor in your BBT fluctuations.

    I too don’t always know if I’m feeling relaxed or not so I’ve been trying to get better at it. I try to focus on the cause of my stress, then I try to figure out a solution – which is easier said than done, at least for me, because I can’t always identify why I feel stressed.

  7. I can verify that drinking alcohol the night before will definitely make your temp rise the next day. Not saying this is a pattern for me. Or maybe I am. 😉

    To de-stress, find something you love. It doesn’t have to be something you do all by yourself either. Going out to coffee with friends, Photo editing. Gardening. Snuggling on the couch with your baby reading a book. Stress comes from thinking, and thinking too much- what do you love that you can loose yourself in?

  8. I just started acupuncture. It made me so relaxed the day of and pretty much the whole next day too. Now, less than a week later I am very eagerly awaiting my next one. I don’t know if I can wait a whole week (but I have to). Massage and laughter also reduce my stress. But even with all of that, I find it hard not to stress about TTC throughout the day at least once.

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  10. my bbt are erratic, i thought i o’ed yesterday as my bbt went down from 36.1 to 35.8 . and stayed at 35.8 2 days in a row, however today it went up to 36.2 > cervical position was high open soft and wet on day 2 of 35.8. Today it is middle, however i NEVER HAD A full positive opk. the test line was only about 50 percent darker……i really need some help

    • Well, it’s hard to say exactly what is happening. Usually, a day or two after ovulation, a woman’s BBT will spike very high (above 97.5) and stay that high until the time you get your period (or a day or two before), which is often the best indicator that you ovulated. Don’t rely too much on the OPKs. They’re helpful, but I never got a positive with my daughter either. Also, what is your CM like? It should have an eggwhite consistency…usually the last day or two of that is when a woman is most fertile. Wishing you the best! I know this all can be so confusing and frustrating.

  11. Try starting to take you temps vaginally. I know it’s a gross reality, but ever since I switched from oral to vaginal bbt my temps have been very steady and easy to read. My previous 7months of charting my temps were HIGHLY erratic. It get easier after a week and is just as “normal” as oral.

  12. My dr has me charting BBT because he has a suspicion that my hormones are imbalanced. I just started a couple days ago but I’m already seeing extreme fluxuation. I did miscarry 6 months ago but as of now, I wouldn’t say I’m overwhelmed with stress. My BBT for the last few days reads as follows:
    º97.84(day1)
    º97.08(day2)
    º98.49(today)
    I’m on my period so there is no way I’m ovulating (?) What do you think? Should I go ahead and call my dr or should I just keep charting and call him on day 18, 19,& 20 as he advised?

    • I would keep charting if I was you. To get a real idea of what your BBT’s are doing, you need to see more than three readings. Today’s temp could just be a fluke, or a sign that you’re catching a cold, or something else. Keep track of it for a few weeks and then give your doctor a call. Wishing you the best! I know this is hard.

  13. Hi, thanks so much for sharing. Can I ask you a question? I’m pretty sure I o’ed last week, and today its dpo6. For dpo4-6, Ive been getting relatively low temps…below cover line. its also accomapnied by creamy cervical mucus. Any idea what might be happening? It’s too early for AF…and I’ve never had this before. We are secretly hoping its a sign of pregnancy!

    • It’s hard to say. I have heard that temps can dip just after ovulation and also at implantation, but dpo4-6 would be too late for the post-ovulation dip and probably too early for the implantation dip. But maybe not! On my second pregnancy, I did get two low dips in temps in the first few days after ovulation and that ended up being a successful cycle with a positive pregnancy test. The other possibility is a bit harder to accept — it could be that, for whatever reason, your body just isn’t making enough progesterone for this cycle and that’s causing the low temps. While it can be very useful to track your cycles and try to find a pattern from one cycle to the next, I wouldn’t put *too* much stock in it. There are so many things that can affect your BBTs! (not enough sleep, alcohol the night before, having a cold and mouth-breathing, just to name a few) Wishing you lots of luck and a successful pregnancy soon, though! xo

  14. Hi i wanna ask something..

    I had several reckless sleep
    Whenever i woke up i will chart my time before i did something
    Exp :
    Dpo 7: at 1am: 36.4 and at 4am: 36.6
    Dpo 8: at 4am: 36.5
    Dpo 9: at 1am: 36.5 and 4am: 36.8
    Dpo 10: at 1am: 36.4 and 4am: 36.5
    Dpo 11: at 1am: 36.2 and 4am: 36.3
    Dpo 12: at 1am: 36.3 (i cant sleep anymore and i only got 1hour half time deep sleep)
    Is it my chart valid?
    Im waiting my AF now (actually today the AF will coming)

    • Well, the short answer is that it’s really hard to say. Restless sleep and insomnia can and likely will affect your temperature, making your chart less accurate. They say you need at least four, possibly six, hours of solid sleep to get a good BBT reading. For some people, though, the difference in BBT between three hours of sleep and six hours may not be much. Really, the best way to know if your chart is accurate and valid now is to compare it to your temps before ovulation. Did you see a dramatic increase in BBT after ovulation, even with the difficult sleep? And how do your temps compare to when you do get a good night of sleep? Looking at your charts across several cycles will give you a good answer on whether yours for this one is accurate. Good luck!

  15. Years later and this post is still helping. Thank you for sharing, and it sounds like you and your husband were able to conceive again after the loss of your baby—I’m so happy to hear it.

    Currently we are TTC first child. Tracking, temping, etc. and I came across this post when trying to find information on an erratic temp chart after ovulation. And while I wont hold my breath, it sounds like we might be hopeful for a BFP!! 💜

  16. Hi… I just come across the blog… anyway I so stress and disappointed….. ttc for 2 years, before I try for 4 years got preg…unfortunately my baby pass 3 weeks later. Hubby and I are both 34 and nothing is working for us….. I have been doing bbt, but is all over the place… Pluz I have been seen 2 different doctors. One gave me Progesteron cuz she said my levels are very low. the 2nd doc… gave me Femera and said not to take the progesterone…. Any advise???

    • I’m not a medical doctor and my first piece of advice would to be find someone who is whom you fully trust and respect. However, I know that can be so hard. Progesterone could definitely help if you take it at the right time in your cycle. Start it a day or two after you ovulate and, if you do conceive, it could help with implantation and carrying that baby through the first trimester. Don’t stop it until you know that you haven’t conceived and it’s at least two weeks after ovulation. However, if your BBT is all over the place, is it possible you’re not ovulating at all? Then the best thing would probably be to take Femara or Clomid to help you ovulate. But again, I’m not a doctor and can only tell you what I know from my experience. I’m so sorry you’re struggling through this. I know how hard it is. 😦

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