6 reasons you should be tracking your basal body temperatures for optimal hormone, thyroid, and adrenal health, and a step-by-step guide for how to do it!
I have many of my female clients track their Basal Body Temperatures (BBTs) as well as cervical mucus and other menstrual cycle patterns for at least a few months, if not longer. Here’s why – this free and easy monitoring tool can give a ton of insight into some of the most common areas of health struggles women are facing.
It’s important to note that Basal Body Temperatures alone can’t definitively diagnose hormone imbalances or other conditions. But they give hints (really good hints) about what’s going on beneath the surface, and can guide you and your practitioner about what additional tests or interventions might be helpful, and they are an essential part of the fertility awareness method of pregnancy planning/prevention.
What Is Basal Body Temperature (BBT)?
Basal Body Temperature (BBT) is your body’s temperature when at complete rest. Resting temperatures should be right around 98 degrees Fahrenheit, but will be higher when more energy is being used by the body for any reason. It is usually measured first thing in the morning before eating, drinking, taking medication, or even getting out of bed.
Do I Need to Track Cervical Mucus and Other Cycle Patterns Too?
Ideally, yes! Tracking cervical mucus – especially watching for “raw egg white” mucus mid-month that signals ovulation – and other cycle related symptoms (breast tenderness, headaches, pain, etc.) can add very helpful details to your temperature tracking to help determine whether your hormones are in balance and whether you’re ovulating (essential for getting pregnant). All of these can be tracked in Kindara and other period tracking apps discussed below.
What various mucus and cycle patterns may mean:
- Cervical Mucus: Increased mucus that’s clear (think: raw egg whites) for 2-3 days mid cycle is a good indicator that ovulation has occurred. I often recommend clients also use at-home ovulation predictor kits that have you urinate on a strip for several days mid-month to confirm whether you had a surge of luteinizing hormone (LH), which indicates ovulation is likely to happen soon.
- Color and amount of Blood Flow: Blood flow that is too light, too heavy, too pale, or too dark can all be signs of hormonal imbalances.
- Period pain: If it’s mild and only mid-cycle, it may be due to ovulation; but if it’s severe and/or happening at other times of the month, it could be due to fibroids, endometriosis, or other hormone related condition.
- Breast Tenderness: If it’s severe, especially during the week before your period, it could be a sign of excess estrogen.
- Headaches: If headaches occur at the same time of your cycle each month (commonly within a week of your period starting), they may be caused by hormone imbalance.
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6 Reasons To Track Your Basal Body Temperature
Tracking Basal Body Temperatures can help give valuable insights into multiple areas of health, including:
It Closely Reflects Female Reproductive Hormones and Fertility
Temperatures should be lower in the first of the menstrual cycle (follicular phase) when estrogen is more dominant, followed by a slight dip and a sharp spike mid-month around the time of ovulation, and then higher temperatures during the latter half (luteal phase) when progesterone takes over.
It’s an Indicator of Thyroid Function
Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) will suppress BBT, while hyperthyroidism will raise it.
As a Marker of Adrenal and HPA-axis Function
Daily temperatures can become erratic in the presence of HPA axis dysfunction.
Can Help Identify Chronic Inflammation or Autoiummunity
Inflammation, autoimmunity, and hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) can all slightly raise BBT.
It costs nothing to take your temperature each day. You may even have a thermometer you can use already! If not, you can get a basal thermometer for around $15 here.
Tracking BBTs is almost effortless and literally takes about 1 minute per day.
How to Track Your Basal Body Temperature
- Keep your thermometer within reach of your bedside.
- As soon as you wake, take your temperature (before sitting up, drinking, taking medication, or doing anything else). Take temperatures around the same time each morning for most accuracy.
- Record daily temperatures in a tracking app like Kindara. There are several good apps to choose from, but I love that Kindara allows you to track menstrual cycles, PMS, and other symptoms along with your BBT. As a provider, I really love that my clients can share PDFs of their monthly records with me!
NOTE: I strongly discourage screens of any kind in the bedroom – if you have trouble remembering your morning temp until you get to the room where your phone has been kept overnight, consider keeping a scratchpad or small notebook at your bedside to record your temperatures, then transfer them into your phone later.
What to Do With Your Basal Body Temperature Charts
Once you have a few months of basal body temperature (and period pattern) data, what should you do with it? There are lots of helpful resources online to help you interpret it but, I’d always recommend getting some professional guidance before making significant changes to your diet, supplements, or lifestyle on your own. This is something I do with my clients and I’d be happy to help you as well! Feel free to comment below or connect with me via my Holistic Nutrition Coaching page or social media.