In speaking with and talking to many Arabic speakers, I have noticed that many of them limit the term “cycle” to the experience of menstruation Alone, bypassing the depth of the menstrual cycle, its main events, and phases.
As a fertility awareness educator, my role is to assist women in becoming more aware of the different phases of the cycle, and its main essential event: ovulation.
This blog is not meant to teach you the fertility awareness method (FAM). If you are interested in learning FAM, join our growing community by adding your email here, and be the first to learn about our upcoming FAM courses and enrollment dates.
Have you charted your cycle before?
Have you started tracking your cycle on an app by inserting the first day of your period, only to have the app predicting when you are ovulating and when you are starting your next cycle?
Let me let you in on a secret: there is no app, nor a device, nor an algorithm that can read your body like you can. Our cyclical experience is not similar to that of a robotic machine or coded algorithm. Our bodies are alive, changing, in harmony with nature and affected by many different factors. Our bodies are speaking to us on a daily basis. They are gifting us real-time data to understand what is going on in our bodies today. Not yesterday. Not the previous cycle. Not last year. But today and NOW!
We can chart our cycles by observing and tracking different fertility signs on a daily basis. Some of these signs would announce the opening of the fertile window and the starting process to mature an egg. Others would confirm ovulation after it occurs.
It is important to note that there is no way to pinpoint the exact moment of ovulation, so when you get a notification from your app to go protected as “you are ovulating NOW,” know that it is only making a prediction based on a mathematical calculation. Hello Rhythm method?
Why Basal Body Temperature (BBT)?
Different methods of FAM have their own set of fertility signs to chart, yet pairing the cervical mucus/fluid with BBT seems to be popular among users. While cervical mucus can open the fertile window, BBT assists us in confirming ovulation after it occurs.
The basal body temperature (BBT) is the body’s temperature at rest; therefore, it is mostly taken first thing in the morning before leaving bed.
Once you start tracking your BBT you will start noticing a pattern. Each person will have a unique pattern, yet we all have one thing in common: a collective of low temperatures before ovulation, and a collective of higher temperatures after it’s done. (Like shown in the picture below).
(A chart of a 27-day cycle, with a temperature rise starting on day 14 post ovulation)
This rise in temperature happens due to the rise of the hormone progesterone after ovulation. Progesterone speeds up the metabolism in the body (burning fat) and that is why we see a rise in the temperature.
There are more fertility signs that some women would choose to track as a way to support their observations, or to narrow down the timing of ovulation to a smaller window. I believe that the more signs we track, the bigger picture we can draw about the harmonious journey our bodies go through each cycle and the more confident we become in practicing FAM to achieve our reproductive goal.
The rules of confirming ovulation through BBT can differ from one method to another, so I always suggest working with a certified instructors that will guide you through this learning journey.
The most important factor to keep in mind while taking your BBT is to take it at the same time every day after sleeping for at least 4-6 hours. For those dealing with insomnia, breastfeeding at night, or not having a set sleeping schedule, Tempdrop would be a great option as it takes temperatures all night long without the need to sleep for certain hours or wake up at a set time.
BBT rises shortly after ovulation. Like Nathalie from the Fertility Awareness Project puts it perfectly, “A regular shift with Sensiplan is considered to be one higher temperature above the previous six days, followed by at least 2 additional higher temperatures. A cover-line is drawn through the highest of the prior 6 temperatures to help you visualize this shift. The third day of your shift must be at least .2°C/.4°F above the cover-line.”
Since not everyone experiences a regular shift, more sets of rules are included to confirm ovulation.
Charting my BBT was the easiest aspect of practicing FAM, to me personally. I am a visual learner. I love math, graphs, and number; making charting BBT the most logical thing on this planet.
My favorite part about BBT is how it allows me to predict when my period is arriving. My temperatures tend to fall at the end of my luteal phase, announcing the fall of progesterone and the body’s readiness to let go of the endometrium. I usually start my period on the day of that fall. No more surprises!
Charting my BBT each morning built a trust between me and my body, and it taught me that this body is not mysterious, but rather craving to be understood by learning its language.
The Fifth Vital Sign - Book
Identifying ovulation with BBT charting - Blog
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