So you know what a perfect chart looks like.
How about some not so perfect ones.
This is a cycle where you do not ovulate. So if you look at this chart you have no sustained thermal shift – the chart is all along one line.
There may be all sorts of reasons for this including stress, quick weight gain or loss, too much exercise, too little fat (many gymnasts or ballerinas will have regular anovulatory cycles for example), menopause or perimenopause (the bit just before the menopause), problems with the thyroid, PCOS and others.
When you have a cycle like this you actually don’t have a period. A period is signalled by the breakdown of the corpus luteum which causes a cessation of progesterone, remember? Well, you haven’t produced any or much progesterone in an anovulatory cycle so any bleeding is known as a ‘breakthrough bleed’ and not a period.
The good news is that most women will have one of these every now and again this is totally normal.
If you have more than three of these in a row or once every other month however, you are most likely not ovulating (or not ovulating regularly) and I would recommend seeing your GP as soon as possible for some blood tests to confirm this. Take the charts with you to show your doctor. It could be indicative of a more serious problem and if you do want children (which some of you won’t, we know) then getting this looked at and sorted before you start trying will save you much valuable time and heartache.
Pretty much what it means – you’re taking your temps at the same time every morning and they’re all over the shop. So long as you have a sustained shift and your chart gives you cross hairs, I wouldn’t worry about them.
You can try temping vaginally (I won’t talk that one through with you in too much detail girls, I’m sure you can work that out) which may help.
Some people do just have erratic temps. My charts vary from month to month from a beautiful, calm curve to mountain climbing in North Wales. Just keep with it for a couple of months and consider temping vaginally. As I said, so long as you can see the pattern, it’s ok. You just won’t have a pretty looking chart.
Ovulating too early or late
Joanna Average may not have this issue but many of us DO.
Here is the chart where I didn’t ovulate until CDxx as opposed to my usual CD(cycle day) 18-20. This meant that my period didn’t arrive until 14 days after THAT which, pre temping days, would have either knocked me side ways or it would have sent me scrambling to Boots for a pregnancy test in a panic.
In this chart you can see this woman ovulated very early – CD8 actually!
There is a lot of speculation that early or late ovulation means something nefarious.
Ovulating earlier or later has its own set of problems – early ovulation can mean the body has released a more immature egg and the lining may not be as thick as it should be without its extra time of growing and late ovulation can cause to the lining being too thick and the possibility of the egg being too mature.
Unless you’re trying for children yet I shouldn’t worry about it too much (mention it to your GP maybe but I suspect they won’t be worried). However keep in mind if you do plan to start a family in the next year or so to have a general chat with your GP and make sure you keep an eye on it as you get going. If you haven’t had any luck after 6 months or so and your cycles are still overly long or short then go in a little more aggressively.
Honestly though? Science is vague on this one. We have included a few relevant studies and some fascinating research on egg maturation in our Studies section if you fancy some light reading.
If the second half of your chart has confirmed ovulation but then 4-8 days later takes a sharp nose dive for a few charts in a row, this could mean the luteal phase is too short and you have a luteal defect.
Again, this is not an emergency unless you’re trying to get pregnant. Doctors like to see a luteal phase of 11+ days for women who are undergoing IVF so it goes to follow that it’s better to have a longer luteal phase than 11 days if you’re trying to conceive naturally.
Many of you won’t be trying for children so it won’t matter. But again, it’s something to keep an eye on. Making sure you have enough vitamin B6 – it can help lengthen a short LP naturally so try popping a supplement for a month or two and see if there is an improvement.
Again, if you’re planning to start a family in the next year or so have a chat with your GP. They’ll have some ideas and you can always take your charts to show them and if you’re actively trying for children and haven’t had luck after 6 months, go in with the charts a little more firmly.
Note: progesterone supplements and suppositories have been pretty much debunked by many studies aside from use in IVF when they are vital (see our study’s links for more info on these). You should never take anything whether natural or chemical without the advice of a registered doctor! Seriously guys!!!!