Disclaimer: As with any time I write about the specifics of fertility awareness, I’ve gotta remind you that you MUST take a class or AT LEAST read a full book on the sympto-thermal method of fertility awareness to practice it properly. Reading blog posts and downloading an app does not cut it, kapish?
This post is part of a series: Why do the rules exist?
Essentially, when you are using the sympto-thermal method of fertility awareness you are doing a few things:
- Checking your fertility signs.
- Charting your fertility signs.
- Applying “rules” to those fertility signs so that you know when you are inside and outside of the fertile phase of your cycle.
Knowing why the rules exist is very important because it helps you understand what rules you should never ever break if you are very strictly trying to avoid pregnancy, and what you might not care about if you are a little more on the “umm… I kinda don’t want to get pregnant, but at the same time I don’t really mind if I do get pregnant”- side of the trying to avoid scale. It also helps you understand how your hormones and cycle work better, making you a better user of the method.
Today I want to discuss temp + 3
First off, what it means: Part of the sympto-thermal method of fertility awareness is taking your basal body temperature daily. When confirming that you ovulated you need to have three of those basal temperatures higher than the highest of the previous six temperatures.
You want three elevated temperatures because temperatures get higher after ovulation due to progesterone increasing. Having not just one but three high temperatures helps:
- Confirm that you actually are seeing a temperature rise and not just seeing a random high from an obscured temperature, and
- Confirm that you have allowed enough time for the egg to have been release and to have died before you consider yourself infertile.
Part two often confuses people. Since the egg only lives for 12-24 hours, they figure, shouldn’t it most likely be dead with your first high temperature? While that may be the case, let me explain the reasoning behind the 3 highs.
An egg can live for 12-24 hours after it has been released. In the case of two eggs being released in a cycle one can theoretically be released 24 hours after the first and live for 24 hours. So right there that is 48 hours of egg life. The extra 12 hours is added for buffer in case temperatures rise before the egg is released, a temp is off, etc. With the addition of the peak + 3 count, your very secure in that you ovulated and the egg is dead and gone.
The other part I’d love to touch on with this rule is actually the part before the count of three. A lot of people are confused about why you use the previous 6 temperatures and not every temperature before the rise.
Temperatures can be kind of erratic in the beginning of the cycle because both progesterone levels and estrogen levels are low. Progesterone, as we saw in the previous section, raises the temperature after ovulation, but what the heck does estrogen do? Estrogen actually lowers/stabilizes temperatures, so you are less likely to get erratic highs when you have high estrogen levels, which happens just before ovulation. When you use these temperatures as your base temperatures it is easier to see a shift than if you were to try to use every temperature before ovulation as your base.
And that is the basis of why we have the temperature + 3 rule.