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The Tyranny of the Basal Thermometer
a blog by Marie Lee
For you ladies who chart, you know your hope can rise and fall like the stock market according to those eensy-weensy, maddening tenths of a degree.
The Oracle of the basal thermometer can hint to you: Luteal phase defect! Anovulation! Spleen chi deficiency! When the thermometer is nice to you, it can give you a feeling of achievement—nice post-ovulation spike, etc.
When I was writing an article for Natural Health on drug-free fertility, I’d been given some charting software to try and found it fun to see a history. I’d bring in the charts to my acupuncturist and we could see if the treatment was working or not (it was!)
My obsession, however, began was when I was newly pregnant (i.e., three days late on my period, + pregnancy test). I knew that a drop in temp meant progesterone was pooping out and the bloody Sunday (or Monday, or Tuesday, etc.) of a miscarriage was coming.
This is when the tyranny of the thermometer begins. Instead of being an informational tool, it becomes something further to stress about. Now, in addition to the temptation to peek at the tissue every time I’d go to the bathroom, I’d find myself checking my temps five times a day! I cheered when it was still high; felt depressed and disappointed when it was not.
The other problem, as a reader of GreenFertility wrote, is that the temps aren’t always accurate. Her case in point? She got pregnant on a month when she thought she’d “missed” her fertile days according to the old thermometer.
For me, I’d find a morning temp that barely made it past 97 degrees (a vigorous, post-ovulation temp should be above 98). As I cursed the beeping telling me the reading was done, I decided to try an experiment: instead of being mad at the thermometer, mad at my body, mad at my hectic schedule, I relaxed and thought happy, fun thoughts. Nothing deep, but lo and behold the temp actually started rising. And not just going from 97.04 to 97.05, it was like the little engine that could. It climbed and climbed to the promised land of 98 and even a little over. And then it beeped again. I didn’t even know it could take second readings. I’ve tried this trick several times, especially when I feel cold and sluggish. There IS a mind/body component to all this.
So the lesson is, don’t let your mood be dictated by the little digital numbers on your basal thermometer! You take charge of your mood and outlook, the rest will follow. Unless you like being pushed around by an inanimate pink and purple wand.
Your fertility is something to be loved and nurtured like a GREEN garden, not something to be bludgeoned, bullied, and terrorized into doing your bidding (or vice versa).