Sympto-thermal method basics

This is meant to provide an overview of the sympto-thermal method, the basics of the practice, and the rules. It is not meant to replace LEARNING the method via your own research or working with a qualified instructor. 

Overview of the method
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The sympto-thermal method is a fertility awareness based method which uses cervical mucus observations (the sympto part) and waking basal body temperature (the thermal part) to understand where someone is in their menstrual cycle. The method consists of:

  • Observing vaginal secretions or cervical mucus daily at minimum 3 times a day

  • Observing waking basal body temperature. Temps must be taken orally (under the tongue), vaginally, or with a wearable and should calculate the temperature for 30 seconds to a minute

  • Recording these observations in a chart or an app that allows for both of these to be recorded. Additionally recording other observations or potential disturbances are key to an effective understanding of the temperature and cervical fluid patterns

  • Knowing one's intention with the method and communicating that with any relevant partners

  • Using observations and your knowledge to align with your intention and level of risk-taking

The basics of the hormones in the menstrual cycle
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The basic science behind why the sympto-thermal method works for understanding our hormones is listed below.  In each ovulatory menstrual cycle, estrogen and progesterone follow this pattern:

  1. A drop in progesterone and estrogen leads to bleeding. This is where the cycle starts.

  2. Estrogen gradually increases and when it reaches a certain threshold, ovulation occurs. In some cycles estrogen will be produced but the threshold isn't met or there is an imbalance with other hormones and thus ovulation doesn't occur.

  3. Just before ovulation has occurred but more predominantly after ovulation has happened, progesterone is produced along with some estrogen

  4. If conception has not occurred, the progesterone and estrogen will decrease which will then cause…

  5. Menses! And we're back to the beginning.

How we observe estrogen and progesterone in the body
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  • Menstrual bleeding is a sign that estrogen and progesterone are low and have recently dropped from a higher level

  • Lower temperatures can be a sign that estrogen is dominating

  • A developing changing pattern culminating in wet/watery, slippery/ lubricative, clear, or stretchy cervical mucus or fluid also indicates estrogen is rising and dominating.

  • A dramatic and abrupt shift in the cervical mucus going from wet/watery, slippery/lubricative, clear, or stretchy to something that is none of those qualities (ie, sticky, thick, creamy, white, yellow, dry etc.) indicates estrogen is decreasing and progesterone is increasing.

  • Higher temperatures in comparison to the temperatures earlier in the cycle indicate that progesterone is dominating.

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