She Says… Fertility Friend

As most of you know, after reading Taking Charge of Your Fertility, I began charting my daily waking temperature to get a handle on my cycles (or lack thereof, as it turned out for me). Recently in the comments someone asked me if I had found an easy way to track this info. While I still rely on my trusty pen and paper on my bedside table, I have also been copying my info onto fertilityfriend.com so I could see graphs of the ups and downs, and begin to identify some other symptoms like cervical mucus and spotting, as well as medications like Clomid.

Wanna see my chart? I had to enter a fake period to get this cycle to start on the correct day. Normally the cycles are determined by the first day of your period, but since I don’t have periods or cycles, I had to lie and tell it that I did. I know that you’re supposed to start Clomid on cycle day (CD) 3, so I marked October 28th as CD1 to get things organized.

chart_11-13-09

A little tutorial for those who have never seen one of these before: The blue dots show my waking temperature. The closed blue dots show days when I took my temp at my normal time (6:00am), and the open dots show days that I didn’t take it until later. Essentially that means that the solid dots are more reliable than the open dots. For most women who ovulate normally, their temps will be lower during the first half of their cycle and rise following ovulation. I practically drool over those charts, since mine are completely the opposite: erratic temps, spiking all over the place, and no “cycles” to speak of. Anyway, bottom line is that you can [usually] tell if you ovulated based on a temp increase. For some women it’s dramatic (.4 degrees, and maintains at that high temp or climbs even higher), and for some woman it’s more gradual (a series of .1 degree increases). At the end of a normal cycle, the temps will drop again, which happens at just about the same time as one might get their period. Or, if you’re preggo, your temps stay high, and sometimes get even higher.

Why do I share this with you? 1) I am a dork and find this stuff fascinating! 2) I wondered if any others out there with charts wanted to share theirs too? Once you set up a profile on fertilityfriend.com you can “friend” other people and view their charts. Here’s the link to my homepage. Friend me!

Some of you may also remember that last month after my [fake] positive OPK I mentioned to the nurse that my temps hadn’t gone up. She told me to “throw the thermometer out the window” as the OPK’s are much more reliable that temps. Ha! Apparently she was wrong. But that doesn’t hide the fact that there is a wide range of opinions on temping and if it’s reliable/worthwhile/helpful, etc. What do you think?

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20 responses to “She Says… Fertility Friend

  1. I find it crazy interesting, too! I didn’t struggle with infertility, and I think I take for granted what my body had to do to make my son happen. It truly is a miracle, whether it happens naturally or with assistance. Two of my non-ovulating friends just had babies using Clomid…I can’t wait to see how your story ends!

  2. Hey Kate,
    I love the charting too! My chart looked very much like yours with temperatures all over the freaking place. I had read somewhere that being a “mouth breather” can affect your temps so I started closing my mouth and breathing through my nose for 10 minutes before actually taking my temperature in the morning. My temperatures really stabilized once I started doing that. Not sure how if that is really recommended or not but I guess I figured I was looking for trends in my temps and as long as I kept doing the same thing everyday it wouldn’t affect the results.

    Good luck! This cycle is sounding promising!

  3. I have mixed feelings about temping because there seem to be so many factors – I don’t think my digital basal thermometer is all that reliable and I also think I’m pretty sensitive to changes from small things like waking up before my alarm. I do love the charts though! I think all the fertility signs are fascinating if also frustrating. I’m hoping to see a temp shift soon for ovulation – but with PCOS it’s hard to know what to expect. However I did see a clear temp shift the time I was temping while using Provera (synthetic progesterone), so that says to me that if I really ovulate I should see it on the chart.

  4. And then my RE says to throw OPKs out the window! What’s a girl to do?

    I tried charting over the summer but gave up b/c I never saw a pattern (since my body wasn’t doing anything). If I want to do it this cycle I should start stat. But like K, I often get up to go to the bathroom during the night and I wake up at different times depending on work stuff, whether I’m exercising in the morning, etc. But it would add a nice investigative layer to my Type A-approach to this process… 🙂

  5. It actually eases my mind a little to temp. I am starting to be more in tune with my body and all it idiosyncracies. Plus, we aren’t sure that we EVER want to go back on BCP, so it will help us later on in life. Come on temp spike!!!

  6. I found charting temps to be helpful, too, and I tried to chart CM, though I was never very good at that. Also, I found it helpful to take my temp, um, vaginally. (I’m so glad I just shared that with the internet, but really, it helped me get much more consistent readings).

  7. I just added you to my friends on FF!

    I’ve been charting since July– Charting gave me my first real heads up that I wasn’t ovulating. I wish I had started back in March when we first started TTC– it would have saved me months of frustrating cycles!!

  8. Omg, your nurse is so wrong!! If you’re dedicated to doing it properly (~ the same time every day, making sure you don’t get up to pee less than a couple of hours beforehand), there is NOTHING more reliable than temping. OPKs are notoriously unreliable — sure they’re great if you caught the LH-surge perfectly, but if you only do them once a day, you can easily miss the surge! Plus, OPKs will only tell you when you’ve had a LH surge, not that you have definitely O’ed. Only temps can tell you that. Sometimes you get an LH surge but no egg releases, etc.

    Anyhoo, I’ve friended you on FF!

  9. Kara, It IS a miracle, isn’t it? I am literally amazed by it everyday. I can imagine, too, how easy it is to take it for granted when everything works the way it is supposed to. I was just looking through some pregnancy charts and the patterns are incredible.

    Karen, Hmmm, I’ve never heard of the mouth breathing thing before, but that makes perfect sense. I don’t have 10 minutes to spare lying in bed in the morning (oh how I wish I did!), but it’s definitely something to consider.

    K, It’s true, from everything that I’ve read, even us PCOSers should see a clear thermal shift if ovulation really occurred. As someone who has charted for a few months with not a single ovulation, I’ll be living proof if my temps stay high this cycle! Good luck to you too!

    suchagoodegg, Yes! It totally caters to my Type A personality. I’m like, “Data! Wahoo!”. Even though they are erratic, I’m hoping to see some method to the madness over the next two weeks. In fact, I’d like to see skyrocketing temps for at least 14 days…

    Courtney F, Good point! I, for one, don’t think I will ever pop those little birth control pills again. Not that I think it’s the birth control’s fault, but all I know is that I used to get my period, and then I went on birth control, and it masked/treated symptoms I didn’t know I was having, and now that I’m off I’m NOT getting my period. So, in an effort to have lots more babies after my first, I think the fertility awareness method is right up my alley!

    Beth, Yep, I’m not very good at charting CM either. I kind of just write down if I see anything obvious without really, umm, digging. As for the vaginal temps… I’m sure that’s much more reliable! I don’t even know how you do that. Is it the same thermometer? Yikes!

    Stef, I can imagine how enlightening it would be to figure that out! Crazy! I looked at your charts 🙂 Your thermal shift in your 8/9 cycle is beautiful! I hope to see one on mine very soon… I assume you thought you were pregnant by 14dpo? I certainly would have!

    Lara, I know, it’s all very confusing to me. On one hand, she was probably trying to make me relax (!), but on the other hand, I really think that if you’re educated about temping, it can be incredibly helpful!

  10. Funny that your doc told you to throw the thermometer out the window….my doc said to throw the OPK out! His opinion is that temperature charting shows you a lot more about your cyle vs having to choose to pee on a stick on the right day.

  11. “Not that I think it’s the birth control’s fault, but all I know is that I used to get my period, and then I went on birth control, and it masked/treated symptoms I didn’t know I was having, and now that I’m off I’m NOT getting my period.”

    I have EXACTLY those sentiments. I think it’s a big shock to be on BC for 9 years (in my case) with everything seeming normal and come off to find everything is messed up! and you mentioned as well, the roller coaster of constantly thinking you are pregnant those first few months off BC until you realize you have the opposite problem. it’s hard to forgive BC after all that.

    best of luck though, maybe this cycle will be the one!!

  12. I’m only on my 2nd cycle of temping but I like it. It gives me feedback that my cycle’s going right and it gives me a heads up when AF is going to make an appearance…which is great. So I like it and I’m going to keep doing it while TTC. My RE said there was no need to as I’ll be monitored closely but the necessity is for my sanity really. And that counts for something :-).

  13. I am 13wks preggo and the only time I ovulated possibly in my life but definitely in the past year was the cycle we got lucky. There is no way I would have been able to time ‘relations’ without temping. I have not used OPK’s so can’t say yay or nay but temping is so helpful and a great tool. And if you do ovulate and potentially get pregnant it is really nice to have the chart as reference (especially for gals like us who don’t have ‘last missed periods’).

  14. Hello Kate,

    I have to say, your chart does not seem to have a discernible FP and LP but who knows. One way you can know for sure is go in and get your progesterone tested on what you believe to be 7DPO (days past ovulation). They will know from that number if you likely ovulated. So if you are going soley by your OPKs, then count out about 8 days from the + sign and get your blood drawn. Obviously you have to get your doctor to order the test.

    If you are into this, I would REALLY recommend the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility. I forget the author, but if you search that on Amazon it will come up immediately. It’s basically a whole book on how to chart and why. It’s great!

    Good luck!

  15. I agree that my temp shift last cycle was beautiful!! Unfortunately it’s merely a side effect of my progesterone prescription. I didn’t ovulate last cycle. 😦

  16. I’m a total data dork too. I used fertility friend at the beginning of ttc… mine was the total opposite. It worked as it was supposed to. 30 day cycles. O on day 17 (if I remember right…). 14 day LP….

    Turned out our issue is with fertilization, so FF helps me not at all. So I stopped. I hated taking my temp in the am anyway. :-/

  17. kwally, I guess different things work for different people… but I think temp charting can be incredible reliable if done properly. OPK’s work reliably for a lot of people too — so far I haven’t gotten clear answers from either, but it’s not their fault, it’s my body’s!

    K, Totally. Same here — I was on the pill for about a decade, and came off it thinking it MIGHT take me a month or two to get back on track. NO ONE told me how much it can mess with your body. I wish I had known.

    Al, Yes, I completely agree. I like the daily affirmation… thought it will be a lot more exciting if I can see a pattern or shift soon!

    Natalie, Oooh! LOVE to hear that 🙂 Hopefully my story is the same! This cycle may be the only time I’ve ovulated (ever? at least since I was 17?) and I so hope that it’s the one that sticks. Good point about having the temp chart as a reference… I imagine it will be very helpful for dating my pregnancy, if it turns into that. Congrats to you!

    Esperanza, Yes, thank you for the suggestion. I have read TCOYF frontwards and backwards. Twice 🙂 It’s an excellent guide. My chart does not have a discernible fertile period or luteal phase because I’m only on CD17! I ovulated on CD15, according to the blood test and ultrasound I had done last Wednesday, and the positive OPK and the ovulation pains I experienced. I am expecting to see an uptick in my temps over the next few days as a result of the ovulation. But you can’t see it yet because it hasn’t happened yet. As I said in a previous post, I am scheduled for a progesterone test next Wednesday (7 days after ovulation) and a blood pregnancy test the following Wednesday to confirm if it worked or not.

    Stef, Ahh, gotcha. That makes sense.

    just me, Everyone has their cross to bear, I guess! You’re right… it doesn’t help much if your charts are perfect but you’re still not conceiving. I guess it’s a confirmation that at least some things are working the way they are supposed to, though!

  18. I used the premium service for fertilityfriend.com and loved it. I tried an OPK and never got a positive, but I did see a very clear spike, drop, sustained temp rise the month that I ovulated and conceived. I was also able to track cervical position and shape – another key indicator that things are working right.

  19. Charting is addicting! This is my third month of charting w/ FF and I think I’m starting to get the hang of it. I just friended you! This month my doc has me on progesterone supplements, so I’m thinking my lovely temps are due to the script. I guess only time will tell. The 2ww sucks. Good luck! I’ll be stalking your chart! 🙂

  20. When I saw this post a very long time ago (or does it just seem longer than it was?) I *knew* you were pregnant. The dip and spike of your temp told me…
    I was struggling with my own inability to conceive through a full-blown case of PCOS when I read this, and two months exactly after you I was pregnant. I think you were my good luck charm.

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