Fertility & Natural Family Planning

Understanding natural fertility, infertility, and related moral and social issues.

Choosing a Method: Sympto-Thermal

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The Basic Idea of Sympto-Thermal

This method combines the temperature, ovulation (mucus-based), and calendar methods.  The basis for the method is the charting of a woman’s basal temperature, taken at the same time each morning before getting out of bed.

At the onset of each cycle’s menses, there is a time where infertility is assumed based on information from previous cycles (typically utilizing calendar method calculations).  This period will vary from woman to woman.  Also taken into account will be any cervical mucus, which should eventually indicate the onset of fertility.

The woman’s chart will typically show a rise in temperate of at least 0.5 degrees.  After this rise has been sustained for 3 temperatures, it is assumed that ovulation has taken place, and infertility is once again assumed.

Benefits of Sympto-Thermal

In addition to these benefits, the method provides a relatively user-friendly way of learning more about one’s cycles of fertility. Visual people often really like to see the graphical change and quantitative indication of ovulation.


Some women, including those who work night shifts and moms of young children, may find it difficult to take their temperature every morning at the same time.  There are other factors that can throw off a woman’s temperature, such as illness, alcohol, or travel.

Erratic temperatures and irregular mucus patterns can also present unique challenges.  For some, their charted temperatures may not present a clear, sharp rise, which can tend to extend periods of abstinence.  Additionally, if a woman has continuous mucus, or very limited mucus, trying to achieve pregnancy can be more challenging.  The woman with continuous mucus may have trouble identifying key changes correlating with fertility.  A woman with limited mucus, may not be able to identify if what she is seeing (mucus quality and quantity) is adequate for achieving pregnancy.

Some women may also find the method confusing, especially if signs don’t match up as expected.

Supplies Needed

  1. A basal thermometer (should calculate to the hundredths, e.g. 97.02)
  2. A chart – Some women use an online system such as Fertility Friendor download applications to their smart phone.  Free printable charts can be found here and here.

Where to Learn

Disclaimer: This post provides only a general overview of the method.  It is strongly recommended that methods are learned directly from an instructor, particularly when being used with the intention of avoiding pregnancy.


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