Whenever a woman comes to acupuncture looking to increase her fertility, in most cases I ask for BBT charts (or recommend she start charting). If you’re asking what a BBT is, click here for an explanation. BBT charts are clinically useful to me as an acupuncturist for many reasons. First, if there is a clear temperature shift midcycle, I know the woman is ovulating, and on which day ovulation is taking place. If the length of the follicular (pre-ovulatory) phase is consistently between 12-20 days, and if the luteal (post-ovulatory) phase is consistently between 11-16 days, I’m fairly confident that things are normal and any fertility issue is not with ovulation. In addition, the basal body temperatures should be within a certain range. If they are significantly lower or higher than I typically see, it could indicate a thyroid dysfunction which should be checked out by a physician.
Most importantly, all of these things help me to make a diagnosis in terms of Chinese Medicine! As discussed in this blog entry, each part of the menstrual cycle has different energetic qualities such as yin, yang, heat, cold, etc. By analyzing the patterns of a woman’s basal body temperatures over just 2-3 months’ time, I can make a more accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. I am a firm believer that keeping a BBT chart for a few months helps a woman to get to know her own body better, and gain a more intuitive understanding of her needs.
Just a few examples of how various BBT patterns correlate to a Chinese Medicine diagnosis:
- If a woman’s Luteal phase is short (under 11 days) or if the temperatures during this phase are very unstable, it could be due to yang deficiency (since the Luteal phase is when the yang energy of the body is at its peak). So, acupuncture and herbs to warm the body, nourish yang and increase circulation to the pelvic organs can help to gradually lengthen the Luteal phase and stabilize temperatures.
- If temperatures during the Follicular phase are very unstable, this could be due to either Liver Qi Stagnation or Heart Fire. Both are very common diagnoses in Chinese Medicine, and again by using acupoints and herbs to correct the imbalance, the temperatures become more consistent and we know your hormones are becoming more balanced.
If you’re interested in learning more, I invite you to contact me or comment with any questions!