Breastfeeding and return of fertility in natural family planning studies

During the postpartum period of time, fertility is in a unique state. For those fully breastfeeding, it may be months or years before they begin ovulating again regularly and with fertile cycles. This article talks about some of the data we have on what return of fertility looks like. This information may be of particular interest to those charting with a method of natural family planning or fertility awareness. Charting at this time may be difficult, and for highest efficacy should be done closely with a certified natural family planning educator.

Breastfeeding as Birth Control

Breastfeeding has been shown over numerous studies to have an effect on return to fertility and ovulation. Kennedy et al (1989) reviewed 10 studies from multiple countries to come to a consensus on what full-breastfeeding means.

  • Fully breastfeeding or at least partially fully breastfeeding
  • Fully breastfeeding meaning the infant gets all or as close to all as possible of their nutrition by suckling at the breast directly, no bottles or pumping
  • Small bites of regular food or water do not disqualify for full breastfeeding
  • No bleeding past day 56 postpartum until the 6 month mark postpartum.

Some methods suggest going no longer than 6 hours at night without breastfeeding. While this was not mentioned in the study, it is generally used as the standard in fertility awareness based methods to see if someone qualifies to rely on the lactational amenorrhea method (LAM).

LAM is 98% effective for avoiding pregnancy when all criteria is met up until 6 months postpartum. After that, efficacy drops precipitously.

What about ecological breastfeeding?

Ecological breastfeeding requires even stricter criteria and may delay fertility for much longer. Bleeding past day 56 does not disqualify someone for ecological breastfeeding. Ecological breastfeeding should not be confused with LAM! Ecological breastfeeding was coined by Dr. Sheila Kippley. You can buy her book here.

The criteria include:

  • Breastfeed exclusively for 6 months
  • Pacify your baby at your breast
  • No bottles or pacifiers
  • Sleep with your baby for night feedings
  • Sleep with your baby for a daily-nap feeding
  • Nurse frequently day & night. Avoid schedules.
  • Avoid anything that would separate you from your baby / prevent regular nursing

Symptothermal Method Studies on Breastfeeding

For the first part of this overview, I am going to cover a few symptothermal studies that followed breastfeeders from birth to return of fertility. Symptothermal charters record cervical mucus and basal body temperature daily in order to track their fertility and determine when the fertile window is opened and when it is closed.

In “Breastfeeding and the Symptothermal Method,” Kennedy et al. followed 73 women who charted with a symptothermal method in Australia, Canada, England. While this is a small sample size, the team collected a ton of data: 22,538 diary sheets, 9,428 urinary vials to measure hormones, and 1,600 follow-ups with the women (Kennedy 1995).

Kennedy et al. reported the following data regarding the wait to return of fertility:

  • Only 25% of first ovulations postpartum had “adequate luteinization.” This means over three quarters of first ovulations were likely infertile (Kennedy, 110).
  • In retrospect, up to 51% of possibly fertile days identified by sympto-thermal would not have lead to conception (Kennedy, 112). The study standard for this was 5 day sperm life.
  • They found that 94-99% of the time, the sympto-thermal method correctly identified when a day was really infertile. This means that around 1-6% of the time it didn’t identify a day that may have lead to pregnancy (Kennedy, 112).
  • They recorded four adequate ovulations with those fully breastfeeding for their first ovulation. This was defined as a 10 day or greater luteal phase with adequate progesterone levels. (Kennedy, 112).
  • Abstinence was expected per the rules for about 50% of the charted days included in the study (Kennedy, 113).

Bonus Information for Cervical Mucus Fans: Fertile mucus in this study was considered anything cloudy, opague, clear, translucent, stretchy, strands, wet, lubricative, moist, or unusually abundant.

Zinaman and Stevenson in the USA followed 25 women until they had 3 ovulatory cycles postpartum (1991).

They found the following data regarding return to fertility:

  • 20% of ovulations in the first ovulation postpartum during the first 6 months were considered fertile (ie a luteal phase longer than 10 days) (Zinaman and Stevenson, 2037).
  • Basal body temperature appeared inadequate to capture the first ovulation, occurring up to 4 days after the LH peak, but it improved in later cycles (Zinaman and Stevenson, 2037).
PercentageTime to Return of Fertility From Birth
25%Less than 200 days 
25%200 to 300 days
35%301 to 400 days
15%More than 400 days
Time to return of fertility among 25 breastfeeding women in Washington, DC. Created from page 2037 in Zinaman and Steveson (1991).

In an article in the International Review of Natural Family Planning, Parenteau-Carreau presents data collected from 43 postpartum women charting with the Serena Canada method.

Parentau-Carreau reports the following data on postpartum charting:

  • 65% of first bleeds were preceded by a thermal shift (35).
  • The collection of charts confirmed the theory that 4 high temperatures should be used postpartum, as there were instances of 3 raised temperatures that were not true shifts (36).
  • Among temperature shifts during the first 6 months postpartum, 75% lasted 8 days or more (37).
  • For babies who sucked their thumb or used a pacifier regularly, their mothers experienced return of fertility an average of 13 days earlier than those who only breastfed for soothing purposes (37).
  • The basal body temperature curve tended to become more steady or regular in the one to two weeks prior to the first ovulation (38).

What can we conclude from all this data?

  • Breastfeeding and meeting the criteria for LAM is highly effective for avoiding pregnancy in the first 6 months postpartum.
  • Most first ovulations postpartum are infertile (defined as a luteal phase less than 10 days long).
  • It is possible to chart during postpartum to avoid pregnancy.

What methods work best postpartum?

I recommend practicing either the Billings Ovulation Method or Marquette postpartum. I do not recommend sympto-thermal method because temperatures are not useful until fertility returns. I only recommend taking your temperature before the 6 month mark to those who are not breastfeeding. In addition, the sympto-thermal method offers less complex mucus patterns than Billings does.

Billings Ovulation Method involves charting sensation at the vulva and appearance of mucus to create a basic infertile pattern. It allows only alternate evenings of the basic infertile pattern for sex until return of fertility (IE ovulation) occurs. It is approximately 98% effective with correct use postpartum.

  • Subjective fertility signs (sensation and appearance)
  • Only alternate evenings for sex
  • Very affordable (Billings will work to set you up with a free instructor if you absolutely cannot afford one)
  • No re-occurring cost
  • One-time cost for instruction (ideally, please pay your educator if you can! Some instructors may charge after 1-2 years pass)

Marquette Method involves charting urinary hormones using the Clearblue monitor. This monitor reads estrogen and LH levels. This method is going to be more expensive than a cervical mucus only method, so I only recommend it to those who can afford approximately $30 USD a month or more postpartum. Unfortunately, the stick costs fluctuate up to $50 USD or so for 30 sticks, but I have seen them as low as $30 USD. Marquette is approximately 98% effective with correct use.

  • Objective fertility signs (monitor does the reading for you)
  • Any time of day sex when available
  • Expensive by some standards. Sticks cost twice as much in Europe. May not be available in some countries at all.
  • Re-occurring cost
  • One-time cost of the monitor ($50-$130 USD depending on if buying new or used)
  • One-time cost of instruction (unless you go over the year mark, you may need to pay twice)
  • I have heard that some instructors may offer scholarships, but you would need to contact individual instructors or organizations to learn their policies.

References

Kennedy, K; Rivera, R; McNeilly, A. (1989). Consensus statement on the use of breastfeeding as a family planning method. , 39(5), 0–496. doi:10.1016/0010-7824(89)90103-0 

Kennedy, K., Gross, B., Parenteau-Carreau, S., Flynn, A., Brown, J., & Visness, C. (1995). “Breastfeeding and the Symptothermal Method.” Studies in Family Planning, 26(2), 107-115. doi:10.2307/2137936

Parenteau-Carreau, S. (1984). “The Return of Fertility in Breastfeeding Women.” The International Review of Natural Family Planning. Vol. 8(1). pp. 34-38.

Zinaman, Michael; Stevenson, Wilma (1991). Efficacy of the symptothermal method of natural family planning in lactating women after the return of menses. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 165(6), 2037–2039. doi:10.1016/S0002-9378(11)90575-4 

An Honest Review of Fitbit for Menstrual Cycle Tracking

You may know that the Fitbit app has some built in menstrual cycle tracking features, but many people do not know that it has other features that may be useful for menstrual cycle tracking. In this article, I will review the pros and cons of the Fitbit app as it relates to cycle tracking for people who ovulate. For context, I use a Fitbit Charge III.

The most basic feature that Fitbit offers for cycle tracking is recording bleeding dates of menstruation and then displaying a predicted fertile window based on average cycle length.

The pink bar represents the length of menstruation. The blue bar represents a predicted fertile window. The flower symbol represents predicted ovulation.

The user needs to remember to input menstuation each cycle. Once it is inputted, Fitbit will generate the blue fertile window. This fertile window should NOT be used for avoiding pregnancy, as it is only based on cycle length and not real-time fertility signs like cervical mucus or basal body temperature.

Once menstruation is entered, it will also begin a countdown until your next predicted menstrual cycle.

Countdown until menstruation in the app.

Unfortunately, I do not find this basic feature very useful for anyone who has any cycle variation. Even though my cycle length has increased over the last year, Fitbit has not automatically updated my cycle lengths. The app does not appear to be very adaptive without user input.

In addition to tracking bleeding the app offers options for:

  • Mood
  • Plan B (morning after)
  • Ovulation tests (better called luteinizing hormone tests)
  • Cervical mucus (Taking Charge of Your Fertility categories)
  • Cyclical symptoms like acne

It is rather disappointing that the app does not include options to mark pregnancy when it occurs, especially since we know that this changes daily calories burned and heart rate, to name just two effected areas of the app.

A really cool feature that I do like is the ability to show cycle trends like flow intensity and cramps. The same screen that displays this will also let you scroll through all past cycle lengths.

In the settings of this screen, you can also decide to toggle off predictions. For people avoiding pregnancy, I do recommend either ignoring or toggling off predictions in the Fitbit app. The app allows you to choose your current birth control method as well.

Outside of the designed menstrual cycle tracking features, I want to highlight resting heart rate as a potential exciting thing to track for those who are not taking hormonal contraception. Why do you need to not be taking hormonal contraception to utilize the heart rate feature for menstrual cycle tracking? Hormonal contraception suppresses ovulation, and ovulation changes our heart rate charts!

To learn more about resting heart rate and the menstrual cycle, read my previous post here.

You can see my heart rate falling during menstruation around April 10th, and then rise during my fertile window and luteal phase.
Menstruation began when my heart rate dipped below 70 on this chart. Ovulation likely occured around the third raised heart rate in this close-up.

Heart rate in people who are ovulating is at its lowest point during menstruation, rises during the fertile window, and continues to be elevated in the luteal phase.

When heart rate begins to drop again, this is an excellent way to predict menstruation will soon occur. For example, I have been tracking my heart rate in Fitbit for 2 years, and I always bleed when my heart rate dips back down to 70 beats per minute after my luteal phase!

I do think this feature is worth tracking for anyone interested in a more precise period prediction than cycle length. If you have Fitbit premium, you can also find a setting for sleeping heart rate under restoration. This may be more steady than resting heart rate for some individuals.

Lastly, I want to address Fitbit temperature for menstrual cycle tracking. Unfortunately, wrist temperatures are not a compatible parameter for fertility awareness when it comes to avoiding or achieving pregnancy. It can be incredibly erratic. When we track temperature, we want the temperature as closest to the core as possible.

Fitbit does not give precise temperatures, instead it gives deviations from a range. I likely ovulated near 18, 19, or 20 on the photo above. While Fitbit did detect a slight shift, it is not particularly clear, and it dropped back down.

As depicted above, my luteal phase the previous month was extremely undefined, and I could not determine a confirmed temperature shift with it.

For now, I do not recommend Fitbit for precise temperature tracking. Instead, I recommend a basal body thermometer.

Conclusion

Fitbit offers some really unique options for cycle tracking, but it should not replace your birth control or fertility awareness method. The heart rate feature may be useful for identifying cycle phases, but the temperature readings are not suitable for tracking cycle phases.

6 Cycle Comparison: Marquette Versus Billings Versus DOT Fertile Windows

Have you ever been curious what your fertile window would look like in multiple methods?

In this blog, I show 6 cycles with various fertility signs and method interpretation including: the sympto-thermal method (Sensiplan rules), Marquette method, the Billings Ovulation Method, and DOT (a calendar method that was recently purchased by Clue app and is a new FDA approved birth control). I chose to include representation for only studied methods of fertility awareness: sympto-thermal, sympto-hormonal, mucus-only, and calendar method.

All charts are from the Read Your Body app, a flexible app for all methods that I highly recommend!

Some things to know before reading:

  • Marquette allows sex any time of day within their rules. My calculation rule lasts until the end of day 7.
  • Sympto-thermal method allows sex any time of day during first 5 days of menstruation, but the first safe day in the luteal phase must be used in the evening. My calculation rule is day 5.
  • Billings Ovulation Method allows sex in the evenings only and on rotated days in the pre-ovulatory time of the cycle. Days of bleeding where mucus cannot be observed are not allowed. However, since you can have sex any time of day post-ovulation with Billings, sometimes cycle day 1 is available if you have sex before bleeding occurs.
  • DOT allows sex any time of day within their rules. It automatically opens my window on day 7.

Cycle 53

Consecutive Fertile Window for Expected Abstinence:

Billings: 8 days

Sympto-thermal: 12 days

Marquette: 12 days

DOT: 12 days

General remarks: This is an extremely standard cycle in length and mucus patch (the average person will have a 5 to 6 day mucus patch when charting). I believe this is a great example of what methods would look like for someone of the average cycle length.

Cycle 54

Consecutive Fertile Window for Expected Abstinence:

Billings: 9 days

Sympto-thermal: 21 days

Marquette: 15 days

DOT: 12 days

General comments: My average coverline is 96.8 to 97.0, so regardless of earlier high temperatures and some illness I felt confident marking this coverline and temperature shift. Due to continous long, clear-ish mucus, my sympto-thermal peak was extremely delayed. Billings is a sensation focused method so I was able to mark my peak at an earlier time and have less expected abstinence.

DOT gave me a very risky day on this one. It is possible I could have been ovulating near the safe day. However, that would have only left 9 to 10 days for implantation and I had spotting, so whether this truly could have ended in pregnancy is up in the air. Even with well-timed sex, pregnancy will not always occur.

Cycle 55

Consecutive Fertile Window for Expected Abstinence:

Billings: 6 days

Sympto-thermal: 12 days

Marquette: 12 days

DOT: 12 days

General comments: This small fertile window in Billings might look scary to some, but it is not possible to get pregnant when the cervical mucus plug is truly closed. I have about one cycle like this every 13 cycles. I was also using the Kegg device during this cycle which is placed internally and reads electrolyte levels to determine the fertile window. It gave me the same 3 day dip for a fertile window, so I feel even more confident that those days were truly dry. I am missing temperatures on this one because my thermometer glitched and would not give me readings on these days. Sex day 1 was allowed because menstruation didn’t start until 5pm.

Cycle 56

Consecutive Fertile Window for Expected Abstinence:

Billings: 8 days

Marquette: 11 days

DOT: 12 days

General Comment: This was an extremely heavy period so I had no period days available in Billings. Even though the other methods gave me available days, I couldn’t have used them due to the pain, so ultimately the other methods didn’t really help out on more safe days.

Cycle 57

Consecutive Fertile Window for Expected Abstinence:

Billings: 10 days

Marquette: 14 days

DOT: 12 days

Cycle 58

Consecutive Fertile Window for Expected Abstinence:

Billings: 9 days

Marquette: 11 days

DOT: 12 days

General Comments: Marquette monitor missed my peak on this cycle. It misses peak on up to 10% of cycles. I relied on meeting LH rules instead of the monitor. Sex day 1 was allowed because menstruation didnt start until 1pm.

Reflecting on What’s Best for Me

I’m currently on cycle 59 charting, and I have tried a ton of methods. Right now, my ideal method is Billings and LH tests as a bonus marker.

While it may appear that Billings gives less safe days in some instances, what is most important to me is having the smallest consecutive fertile window. Having less expected abstinence actually makes me more likely to follow the rules. I was completely unsatisfied with only being allowed period sex in the sympto-thermal method because I have period pain issues. That means that I basically had no safe days at all in reality before ovulation with sympto-thermal.

I originally felt very enthusiastic about Marquette method. However, after 6 cycles of using the Clearblue Fertility Monitor, I realized that it always caught my LH surge after the cheap LH tests. In addition, it missing my peak even once is frustrating for the cost of the product. For that reason, I have decided to stop using the monitor when I run out of tests. I can use a 15 cent LH test and get the period prediction aspect (LH is my most steady indicator).

The DOT app tends to give me a risky cycle whenever I ovulate late and have a shorter luteal phase. I do not rely on this for pregnancy prevention. Overall though, DOT has not given me many risky ways. I use it for long-term period prediction, and it is the most accurate period predictor I’ve ever used for planning months in advance.

What to Consider Before Switching Methods

1. Why are you unsatisfied with your current method? Is it the amount of safe days, or is it the routine that you don’t like?

2. Do you have medical needs that could be addressed by another method?

Sometimes the grass isn’t greener on the other side, but if you are like me and can’t have period sex or don’t want to have period sex, methods like Billings without calculation rules will almost always include more safe days if you are dedicated enough to learn the method and chart it accurately.

Folks in irregular cycles like in postpartum time or with PCOS may benefit from more flexible methods without calculation rules

*DISCLAIMER: DO NOT TRY TO LEARN FROM MY CHARTS. MY CHARTS ARE NOT YOUR CHARTS.

Why did I choose to become a fertility awareness instructor?

Why did I choose to become a fertility awareness educator?

Fertility awareness is the sex education I wish I learned in middle school.

When women actually learn how their fertility works, they learn that getting pregnant is not as easy as the drop of a hat. We learn to appreciate and live with rather than work against our fertility.

Almost every person who I’ve seen read #takingchargeofyourfertility or take a FAM class comes out of the experience saying, “Why have I not always known this information? I wish I could have known this when I was younger!” Learning fertility awareness changed my life, and I know it can change yours too.

Do I believe FAM is the right method of birth control for every woman?

No, it is probably not.

But I do believe that every woman should be taught how to understand her own body. What she does with that information is up to her.

Fertility awareness gave me the ability to avoid pregnancy on my own terms. It gave my spouse more knowledge about my body and the changes I experience during my cycle. It has strengthened my relationship in more ways than I can name.

If you want to learn FAM, I suggest getting an instructor. Check out this website for a list of instructors.

Now Opening Enrollment For December 2019 Fertility Awareness Course

I am so excited to be offering this new course for those interested in learning the symptothermal method of fertility awareness. The method I teach is based on the rules studies by Sensiplan. You can read about this study here.

I found fertility awareness after 7 years on the pill, and it really rocked my world. When I started practicing it myself, I realized that it was a grave injustice that women are not taught about FAM. Practicing FAM has put me in touch with my body more than ever before. It healed some of the mind/body split that I had developed through years of resenting my period.

Moderating in Fertility Awareness Method of Birth Control, the largest English speaking, secular fertility awareness group on Facebook at 25,000+ members, lead me to becoming a certified instructor through the Natural Family Planning Teachers Association (NFPTA). Starting in February 2020, I am pursuing a certification through Bebo Mia as a fertility doula to support women who are TTC. Outside of the fertility world, I am training to be a librarian. I have taught at the college level since 2016.

I teach a secular form of fertility awareness including information on barrier methods (condoms, diaphragms, etc). The NFPTA method has the same temperature rules as Sensiplan. I teach cervical mucus, cervical position, basal body temperature, and calculation rules (the doering rule and minus 20 and 21 rules). My distance course is offered on Moodle. It is a 4-week self-paced course that includes video charting examples and information on charting during all life circumstances (perimenopause, postpartum, postpill, and TTC). This class opens in December. Your partner is welcome to ask me questions and take the course along with you.

If you already have charting experience from reading TCOYF or the Sensiplan file (3 or more complete cycles), I will extend a discount to you if you decide to work with me. Reach out to me to find out more. I will also likely be holding a live introduction to FAM session in early December.

The best way to get in touch with me is through DM on my Instagram @chartyourfertility or through e-mail by completing a form on chartyourfertility.com. You can also follow me @chartyourfertility on Facebook

A symptothermal method chart
An Example of Symptothermal Method Chart on Kindara

*Disclaimer: These methods only work as well as the user. Even with perfect use, there is still a .4% chance of pregnancy. Using a calculation rule is built into the efficacy, and ignoring calculations may result in unintended pregnancy. I will work closely with you so that you understand the rules, but it is ultimately on the user to follow them.

Shortcut charting, or “Wait… I don’t have to take my temperature every day?”

Many people come into FAM overwhelmed by all the data that they have to collect daily. It can be a bit of a turn off for those new to the method. They may wonder why they have to check their cervical mucus ALL day and then set an alarm on top of that.

When you first begin charting, it is vitally important to try to get the information down every day so that you can get into a habit and make sure that you are following the rules. Missing information will leave you with less complete charts that could leave you confused as to whether ovulation is confirmed or not.

However, once you have been charting for a significant amount of time and become confident, you can stop recording fertility signs once you have confirmed ovulation.

I am headed into chart number twenty-two successfully avoiding pregnancy with FAM, and I have been shortcut charting most of the time for about seven cycles now. I personally recommend confirming ovulation in 12 cycles before shortcut charting. This is so that you know how early you ovulate, your normal temperature levels, and how to tell whether something abnormal is going on in your cycle (ie sickness causing temperatures to be higher than normal or an abnormal cervical fluid dry up due to cold meds or some other medication).

Toni Weschler, author of Taking Charge of Your Fertility, recommends that women have several months of experience in the standard rules before taking any shortcuts. She offers some modified guidelines to follow and emphasizes that “contraceptive efficacy won’t be compromised as long as both your fertility signs have confirmed that ovulation has already been confirmed for that particular cycle.”

The Modified Rules

Temperature Taking

  1. You don’t have to take your temperature during your period. Toni explains that these temps may be unreliable anyways. However, if you have short cycles with early ovulation, you may need those temps in order to confirm ovulation. If you have a temperature shift CD12 or sooner, you will need some period temps in order to have enough temperatures to draw a coverline.
  2. You don’t have to take your temperature after you confirm ovulation with temperature rules. This means at least 3 high temperatures with a standard shift. If you have weak shift or a fall back rise, you must have the extra temperatures needed to fulfill those rules before you stop taking your temperature. Some people take their temperature again a day or two before they expect their period since it can (but not always) give an indication that menstruation is approaching.

Cervical Mucus

  1. You don’t have to check cervical mucus after you confirm ovulation. You will need to check until you meet peak rules (P + 3) and crosscheck this with 3 high temperatures before you can stop checking for cervical mucus. Again, if you have a weak shift or fallback, you will need to check until you meet the rules.
  2. From the day after your period until the day you observe peak type fluid, you should check cervical mucus continuously throughout the day and follow all rules for mucus checks. However, you don’t have to check cervical mucus multiple times a day once you observe peak fluid. If you observe peak fluid first thing in the morning, there is no need to keep checking. You have already recorded your most fertile observation for the day.

Those are the basic changes when short cut charting.

Here is an example chart.

This woman does not take her temperatures during her period. She begins taking her temperature on CD6 when menstruation ends. She checks her cervical mucus multiple times a day and follows the rules for checking until CD11. On CD11, CD12, and CD13, she observes eggwhite mucus first thing in the morning and doesn’t check again. On CD14-CD17, she checks mucus multiple times a day because she knows she needs at least a 3 day dry up (P + 3) to confirm ovulation. On CD 15, she has her temperature shift. CD16 is above the coverline. CD17 confirms ovulation because it is at least .4 F above the coverline. Ovulation is officially confirmed with both peak and temperature rules met. She takes her temperature again on CD26 to see if she gets a temperature drop indicating that her menstruation may begin soon.

People Who May Want to Think Twice about Short Cut Charting

Not everyone is suited to short cut charting.

  • Charting for Health: If you are charting for health, you may want to record your signs every day. Odd cervical mucus patterns and temperatures can indicate health issues. If this is your goal for charting, short cut charting may not be right for you.
  • Using Tempdrop: Tempdrop says to wear the device every day. If you don’t, it could disrupt the algorithm. As far as I know, they do not recommend short cut charting at this time. If you use this device, you may not want to short cut chart if you are worried about being at risk of pregnancy.
  • You aren’t confident in charting: If you are not confident in your ability to chart, you should NOT short cut chart. You should be 100% confident in your abilities before attempting this.
  • You are sick: If you are sick, you may want to chart more diligently and stay protected if you are uncertain about your chart interpretation.
  • You are only charting one sign: You NEED two signs in order to short cut chart. If you pick just one, you may be putting yourself at risk of unintended pregnancy. Ovulation must be confirmed with two signs.

An Honest Review of Tempdrop

Are you looking to simplify your basal body temperature charting routine? Is getting up in the morning just too hard to remember to take your temperature? Read on!

There are currently a few wearable basal body thermometers on the market such as iFertracker, Ava, and Tempdrop. In this blog, I will review the Tempdrop device. If you decide to purchase, use this link and get 10% off the device. This discount only works on the Confidence and Freedom Packages.

tempdrop

Tempdrop is a wearable basal body temperature thermometer that came onto the market in 2017. Rather than setting an alarm, you can simply put this thermometer on before bed. You wear it around your upper arm (and it may be worn in a bra as well). It needs 3 hours of sleep to determine your basal body temperature. The device uses an algorithm to find your true temperature, regardless of how many times you have gotten up or whether you had restless sleep this night.

This device is very popular with shift workers, breastfeeding mothers, and other people who don’t get a regular amount of sleep and wake up at different times. It holds 24 hours of data, and it must be synced at least every 24 hours or you will lose previous data. After wearing it for 15 days (as of March 2020), the algorithm will kick in. (If possible you should back up temp with oral basal body temperature for the first 60 days if you are avoiding pregnancy. If not, use a different method of protection). By day 60, the device will only change and make improvements to the last 2 temperatures taken.

PROS

  1. Helps Women Practice the Sympto-Thermal Method: If you are not able to take your temperature with a normal basal body thermometer due to breastfeeding, shift work, or other irregular sleep schedules, this device will help you practice any sympto-thermal method of fertility awareness or natural family planning. 
  2. Great Customer Service: I have had to interact with Tempdrop Customer Service several times. They are fairly prompt with responses, and they do try their best to troubleshoot with you. While there was an issue with the Tempdrop frame breaking, they fixed this issue for free.
  3. No Alarm Needed: Hate your alarm? You won’t need to set it to take your temperature if you wear Tempdrop. This is a big game changer for people with irregular sleep schedules. It can make your mornings much easier. 
  4. Helpful Facebook Group: You may join the Tempdrop Facebook group for support and charting help. They have detailed units about how to use this device to achieve or avoid pregnancy. There are multiple spin-off Tempdrop groups that you may want to explore as well.

CONS

  1. Price: Tempdrop Basic Package is $159 (12 month warranty). Tempdrop Confidence Package is $199 (12 month refund guarantee, 24 month warranty, Tempdrop Care available). Tempdrop Freedom Package is $249 (24 month warranty, Tempdrop Care, 12 month refund guarantee, extra armband and battery). While this price could be worth it for you if it’s the only way you can take your temperature, it may not be affordable to everyone. This price is still a little high, especially if you are making minimum wage or have other expenses like childcare. The referral codes only work with the higher price packages (scroll to the end of this to get 10% off the device). If you have kids or animals, you may want to get a better package if you believe your device may be damaged easily.
  2. Battery: The device does not tell you when the battery is dying. However, you can contact support to find out. They now recommend changing the battery at 8 months.
  3. Frame Breaking: Many people (myself included) have had the frame break easily. However, the company promises that they are trying to fix this issue and a newer frame with different plastic will be issued with devices bought this year.
  4. Changing Temperatures: If you are the anxious type, you may not like the last few temperatures changing. While this is due to the way the device functions, some people may find it unsettling. Second, many people who chart expect that they will see a drop in their temperature before they get their period or the day of. I personally never got the drop to indicate my period was coming until Tempdrop retroactively adjusted my last temperature. With oral basal body temperature, changing temperatures is not a problem.

In 2020, Tempdrop released their own app. I do NOT recommend using it to interpret your data for you. It is quite expensive, and it does offers to interpret your data for you. The best app is one that lets you make all the decisions instead of forcing you into certain rules that may not fit your chosen method.

Here is an example of the Tempdrop app:

Screenshot Image

Source: Google Play Store

Instead, I recommend using Read Your Body app which is only $15 USD a year and empowers you to read your own fertility signs! It automatically syncs with Tempdrop. This is my top recommendation if you are determined to use Tempdrop for avoiding pregnancy. It is entirely customizable down to the cervical mucus categories and incredibly diverse custom data. See my blog on using this app for 7 different types of fertility methods and devices.

cycle 53_1701120622760017610480320543813112..png

My Original Experience with Tempdrop in 2018

I used the Tempdrop device for almost 12 months. I found my oral temps to be more predictable and more steady when observing my own trends over time. I get very steady or repeating temperatures with oral charts most of the time.

However, I am not a shift worker, so I will admit that I do not need Tempdrop like some people may do. I already have to wake up at the same time 5 days a week, and I don’t find it inconvenient to take my temperature on the weekend. Even if I take my temperature later, my oral temperatures are incredibly steady. My oral temperatures also caught my shift earlier than Tempdrop did on two separate occasions (I have seen other people say that Tempdrop catches their shift sooner than oral temperatures, so this is really an individual thing).

Funnily, alcohol appears to effect my Tempdrop temperatures MORE than my oral temperatures. I speculate that this is because whenever I would put the Tempdrop on, I was still recently drinking and hotter due to the alcohol. In contrast, I would be sleeping for 8-9 hours and have worn off the alcohol before taking my oral temperature.

Here is one full cycle comparison:

Tempdrop (Ovuview)

ovuview

Oral Temperatures (Kindara)

kindaraoral

Tempdrop temperatures will either read higher or lower than your oral temperatures. In my case, they read much higher.

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Continue reading An Honest Review of Tempdrop