BBT Charting & Menstrual Tracking: A Window into your Menstrual Cycle

BBT Charting & Menstrual Tracking: A Window into your Menstrual Cycle hover background

Nov 30
2017

When I first learned about BBT (Basal Body Temperature) charts I thought they were a huge waste of time. Luckily, it didn’t take long for me to understand the value they provide us about our health and therefore, fertile potential. Combine the information you glean from charting with the details of your menstrual cycle (menstrual tracking) and you will truly have a wealth of information about your personal hormonal health. I’ve spent years using BBT charting and menstrual tracking to first, identify potential areas of concern and secondly, monitor progress in my fertility patients. Turns out it’s an incredible useful tool and anyone can take advantage.

For instructions on how to chart and track your menstrual cycles or download a free BBT Chart, click here.

In this post I want to teach you what to look for and what your findings mean for your health and overall fertility. At the end, I’ll also describe what I recommend for my patients and walk you through how it impacts menstrual cycles, hormonal health and fertile potential.

What do BBT Charts and Menstrual Tracking Teach Us

BBT charts and menstrual tracking truly are a window into the unique characteristics of your hormonal and fertile health. Cycle Day Three blood are often the first test recommended when you’re looking to better understand your hormones, but this test only gives us a snapshot of what’s happening on that particular day in that particular month and doesn’t provide any information at all about ovulation.

Though Cycle Day 3 tests are important and useful, I think we also need to investigate the patterns within your menstrual cycle because they are real indicators of endocrine function, stability and health.  Here’s what we’re looking at:

  • Length of menstrual cycle (from cycle day one to the day before your next bleed)
  • Length of bleeding each month (how many days of full flow bleeding)
  • Amount of bleeding (how often do you need to change protection)
  • Quality of bleeding (color of blood, clotting, etc)
  • Timing of ovulation (mid-cycle, early or late)
  • Average Follicular Phase Temperatures & Average Luteal Phase Temperatures
  • Presence of cervical mucus, amount and quality
  • Pain, PMS, Breast Tenderness, Headaches and other premenstrual symptoms

Why are these Menstrual Characteristics Important

We know from studies based on thousands (in some cases hundreds of thousands) of menstrual charts, that there are particular menstrual cycle characteristics that lead to higher pregnancy and birth outcomes.  We call this the “Conceivable Cycle”. Take a look below to learn about the menstrual cycle attributes make up a Conceivable Cycle.

  • Four days of fresh red bleeding
  • Soaking a tampon or pad every 4 hours – not more or less
  • No cramping, no clotting or spotting
  • Average temperatures in follicular phase 97.2°F
  • Ovulation at Cycle Day 14 w/ stretchy, clear cervical mucus
  • No PMS of any kind
  • 14 day luteal phase
  • Average temperatures in luteal phase 98.2°F

Let’s dive into a few of these particular characteristics more deeply to see what can happen when these parameters are outside the normal ranges.

Regular Cycles

Regular menstrual cycles, as in they arrive monthly and within approximately the same time frame, have been found to increase chances of conception.  This may be because it makes predicting ovulation and timing baby making sex easier, but whatever the reason, one studied showed that “on average, women with irregular cycles had only 1/4 the chance of getting pregnant each month as those with more normal cycles”.1

Cycle Length of 28 Days

Cycle length is vital.  During the first half of your cycle, the follicular phase, your body is developing follicles, each of which hopefully contains a maturing egg.  These follicles need every day of your 12 to 14 day follicular phase to develop and mature before ovulation.  And, on the other side of ovulation, your ovulated egg needs plenty of time (12 to 14 days) to fertilize and implant in the endometrial lining.  “Both shorter and longer cycles have been associated with reduced fertility, in some cases decreasing the chance of birth by up to 50%”.2

Researchers have found particular concerns with short cycles, finding that “early ovulation resulted in a significant reduction (approximately 50-75%) in clinical and viable pregnancy rates.”3 4

Four Day Periods

The health of your endometrial lining is an important factor in healthy implantation and nurturing a growing embryo. Studies have show that both too few days of bleeding or too many days of bleeding could decrease chances of conception, in some cases decreasing chances by half.5

Amount of Bleeding

Ideally, you want to be soaking a pad or a tampon every 4 hours during your days of heaviest bleeding.  Quantity of bleeding as well as the quality of menstrual blood is associated with the health of your endometrial lining. Bleeding that is either much less or much more than that can indicate lower chances of conception.6

Basal Body Temperatures

In my clinical experience, women with menstrual charts with basal body temperatures averaging 97.2°F in the follicular phase (first half of your menstrual cycle) and 98.2°F in the luteal phase (second half of your cycle) have higher pregnancy rates.  Miscarriage rates tend to be higher in women who’s average luteal phase temperatures fall below 98.0°F during the first trimester.

Now that you have an idea of what you can learn from BBT charting/menstrual tracking and how it may be negatively impacting your fertility, let’s get to the good news!
With targeted goals and a protocol designed specifically for you, you can stabilize your hormonal health and see a direct month to month improvement in your charting/tracking parameters. It doesn’t even have to take that long.

In my practice

I have found that by combining acupuncture treatments, Chinese Herbal Medicine and improved nutrition, all to support your specific needs, we can see huge improvements in your menstrual cycles within 3 to 6 months, which means we are making huge improvements in your fertile potential.  In my clinic, I use BBT charts/menstrual tracking both as a means of diagnosing but as we move forward in your treatment, I use it as a way to track your progress.  Patients are often amazed and feel super empowered when they see shifts and improvements right there in the BBT charts each month.  It’s real life proof that you are healing and optimizing your chances of conceiving.

You really do have to power to improve your hormonal health and fertile potential!

For instructions on how to chart and track your menstrual cycles or download a free BBT Chart, click here.

Want to learn exactly what I recommend in my practice to improve optimize menstrual cycles?  Click here to read my post, Using Chinese Herbal Medicine to Regulate Menstrual Cycles.

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[1] Kolstad HA, Bonde JP, Hjøllund NH, Jensen TK, Henriksen TB, Ernst E, Giwercman A, Skakkebaek NE, Olsen J. Menstrual cycle pattern and fertility: a prospective follow-up study of pregnancy and early embryonal loss in 295 couples who were planning their frst pregnancy. Fertil Steril. 1999 Mar; 71(3):490-6. PubMed PMID: 10065787.


[2] Brodin T, Bergh T, Berglund L, Hadziosmanovic N, Holte J. Menstrual cycle length is an age-independent marker of female fertility: results from 6271 treatment cycles of in vitro fertilization. Fertil Steril. 2008 Nov;90(5):1656-61. Epub 2007 Dec 21. PubMed PMID: 18155201./span>

[3] Check JH, Adelson H, Lurie D, Jamison T. Effect of the short follicular phase on subsequent conception. Gynecol Obstet Invest. 1992;34(3):180-3. PubMed PMID: 1427421./span>

[4] Check JH, Liss JR, Shucoski K, Check ML. Effect of short follicular phase with follicular maturity on conception outcome. Clin Exp Obstet Gynecol. 2003;30(4):195-6. PubMed PMID: 14664409./span>

[5] Small CM, Manatunga AK, Klein M, Feigelson HS, Dominguez CE, McChesney R, Marcus M. Menstrual cycle characteristics: associations with fertility and spontaneous abortion. Epidemiology. 2006 Jan;17(1):52-60. PubMed PMID: 16357595./span>

[6] Wise LA, Mikkelsen EM, Rothman KJ, Riis AH, Sørensen HT, Huybrechts KF, Hatch EE. A prospective cohort study of menstrual characteristics and time to pregnancy. Am J Epidemiol.2011 Sep 15;174(6):701-9. doi:10.1093/aje/kwr 130. Epub 2011 Jun 30. PubMed PMID 21719742; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3166706