Is Basal Body Temperature Tracking Reliable For Fertility?

When you're trying to have a baby (or starting to think about it), you may come across the term basal body temperature (BBT) - that is, your lowest temperature of the day, reached when your body is completely at rest. Depending on whom you ask, your BBT can be the star of everything from pregnancy planning to natural birth control and overall fertility awareness. The problem is, your BBT can also be influenced by environmental toxins and heavy metals.  Heavy metal testing and toxicity is a very complex issue. This can often increase the length of your preconception preparation by many months. Which is why it is good to get tested.

Fertility awareness is generally defined as a woman’s ability to identify the fertile period of the menstrual cycle. Many women base their charting on a 28-day cycle which can significantly distort their 'fertility window' and lead to troubles conceiving. Different toxins, endocrine disruptors, stress, diet, and infection can all create variation in a woman's cycle.  This is why it is important to not just rely on one method of fertility awareness to determine your peak fertile time.

Methods of Fertility Awareness

There are three methods of fertility awareness: rhythm, temperature, and mucus. Rhythm is accurate for <30% of women. However, the more modern methods, temperature, and mucus are highly accurate.

Measuring your basal body temperature, retrospectively indicates the fertile period of the menstrual cycle by a rise in basal body temperature of 0.2–0.5°C and this elevation remains elevated until next menstruation.

The problem with relying on this method alone means you may miss your fertile window completely because the temperature rise occurs right after ovulation, and peak fertility is going to be the day of ovulation or right before that - so once the temperature goes up, you’ve kind of missed the boat.”

The problem is if there are other underlying health concerns contributing to changes in basal body temperature like thyroid, liver and digestive problems which can distort temperature readings, meaning you completely miss the boat!

As part of a fertility awareness-based method of birth control,  BBT charting is helpful but you need to give yourself a big cushion of days around that temperature rise to make sure you don't miss your chance. Remember, BBT charting does best give you an idea of if and when you’re ovulating. Here’s how that works.

Why does basal body temperature change?

After ovulation, “your temperature is going to change as a result of progesterone, the hormone that’s going to help [the egg] with implantation. After a woman ovulates she will start secreting progesterone, and that causes her temperature to rise.  But other hormonal changes and environmental influences can impact your BBT as well. We also know that basal body temperature can increase because of emotional disturbances, any kind of stress factor, endocrine disruptors called by environmental pollutants, other hormones such as thyroid problems, autoimmune problems, infection and early menopausal changes.

How can I confirm I have environmental toxins?

One of the most reliable ways to determine whether environmental toxins may be causing your symptoms is to keep a diary of symptoms. Common symptoms of toxicity include BBT changes, ovulation pain, irregular ovulation, Premature Ovarian Failure, failed IVF cycles, poor egg or sperm quality, recurrent miscarriage and many more.

In addition, several tests are available to help confirm an environmental toxin diagnosis.  At BUMP we offer a full range of environmental lab testing so you can access the most up to date testing resources.

If a couple has been trying to conceive for more than one year without success despite there being no other reason for infertility and/or has had multiple miscarriages, my recommendation is for testing and if we do find heavy metals, I will recommend chelation therapy as a part of natural fertility treatment.

There are a few different ways of testing for heavy metals, and although you can buy inexpensive urine test kits online, these are only semi-accurate and can distort the result.

Other detective work may include:

  • Stool analysis – Which will confirm whether the gut is functioning optimally
  • Liver function testing - to determine ALT and the ability to remove heavy metals
  • Genetic testing – To help establish whether genetic defects (MTHFR) may be contributing

How can Narelle help?

Navigating unexplained infertility alone can be both isolating and confusing, particularly when undertaking IVF. Working with a Naturopath can provide you with the necessary support to pinpoint the issue and work on correcting it.

For more information on managing environmental toxins or if you think you are experiencing symptoms of unexplained infertility, decide to take action to work with us so we can tailor a treatment plan to your own unique needs and ensure the most successful outcome.

To book a FREE 10-minute fertility chat click here

** research references available on request.

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