Note: This post is regrettably riddled with NFP-insider lingo. Probably best to skip it if that is not your thing, or especially if it is your thing in the sort of way where you can’t stand to read others talking about their individual experiences with various methods because you know that your method was created by God and is thus unquestionably best for all. Thanks! 

Billings Thermometer

I took my temperature this morning. This is hardly surprising, given that I have taken my temperature (BBT) most mornings for the past eight years, but it is significant. Since February we have been keeping  two charts, one with the Billings method (BOM) and one based on the Cross-Check method (Best method ever, yo! If you’re near Boston it is totally the way to go. Can we have NFP rap?). Ehem, anyway.

Unlike the Creighton Model (CrMS), which cannot be used alone to determine ovulation for my body, BOM is perfectly adequate for me. It has been a year and a half since we started using it, and Josh still struggles to believe how incredibly easy it is. Yet somehow I remain attached to my thermometer, and I know that I am not the only one who prefers to mix methods.

I knew that this cycle would include traveling for Christmas, and New Year’s, and other reasons for finding the thermometer annoying. So when Josh said that he totally did not care whether I tracked my temperature, it became the first time that I have charted exclusively without BBT. Have I mentioned that BOM is so easy it is almost a joke?

Still, I reached for my thermometer this morning because I wanted to know precisely when to expect the start of my next cycle, and the only reliable way for me to know that is a temperature drop. I used to think that I was unusual in my inconsistent luteal phases, but then I heard a CrMS FCP say that CrMS is great for knowing when your next period will come because luteal phases are consistent… and then she defined consistent as +/- 2 days, for a total of a 5 day range. That means that mine are consistent in CrMS-terms, but that is not nearly precise enough in NoWealthButLife World! Add in the fact that my late-cycle cramping has no consistent pattern, and this leaves me turning to my thermometer.

My temperature was decisively low, which means I will need to start a new chart either today or tomorrow–I don’t know for sure because I don’t know what my temperature was yesterday. Still, knowing that it is either today or tomorrow is a whole lot better for me than just knowing that it will be sometime within the next five days.

I can thank BOM for a lot, including letting me know what day to take my temperature, but I’m just not ready to give up my thermometer completely. Once you learn how to use it correctly, it is just the best. Now I’d better stop before I end up publicly declaring my love for my thermometer. I wouldn’t want to make Josh jealous!


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6 thoughts on “BOM + BBT

  1. Rebecca

    I, too, love my thermometer. We chart CrMS b/c my doctor uses those charts, we chart STM because we like those charts better.

    Another plus to my thermometer is that it helps me know when I really am post-peak so I can start my meds, having experienced a doubtful (double in CrMS lingo) with a significant time between, I prefer my thermometer to help clarify things :).

  2. waywardson23

    What if you know that BOM+BBT was created by God and is thus unquestionably best for all? :-)

    After going through three other methods (CrMS, STM/Kippley, STM/TCOYF), K finds BOM amazingly easy. She says “It teaches you how to recognize your own fertility, instead of just learning a system. It makes sense.”

    Yet we still temp. Why?

    We know how to do it and K wakes up at the same time nearly every day anyway. Our BOM instructor recommended we keep separate charts, so I keep the temps on my phone, which gives me something to do.

    But the big reason why we temp is because DD2 (and possibly DD1 as well) was a “double-peak baby” from our CrMS days, so we’re just a bit paranoid about making sure we get Peak right. Usually it’s not an issue, but she’s had a couple of “fuzzy peaks/underdeveloped follicles” under BOM. Seeing a temp shift allows us to apply the Peak Rule instead of sticking to the early rules, which means that we can relax and enjoy the rest of the month. ;-)

    But we recognize that the BBT is very much a secondary sign. We would recommend the BOM alone to anyone.

    I think some NFP promoters forget about the importance of simplicity. The (in)famous Art of Natural Family Planning (Kippley) read like a college textbook. While thorough, when we took the course, it was too much information for us to be able to make heads or tails of it. And we are scientifically minded people. CrMS seems more focused on infertility and cycle issues and preparing good charts for the NaPro doctors than on basic fertility awareness. (But some people love it. YMMV.)

    I have read so many complaints about NFP being complicated and confusing and unreliable that it’s maddening when something simple and effective is available. Couples get overwhelmed by all the observations and get confused by an overly complicated method. Then they get pregnant. Then they tell the world that the best part about NFP is all the wonderful sweet little “unexpected blessings” it gives you.

    Which sends most people running for the hills . . . and the contraceptives.

    What we like about Billings is that they have spent so much time and effort and research on teaching. BOM was also developed by a woman, which makes a difference. (Supposedly, Dr. Lyn told Dr. John that his older method was too complicated and that the signs were actually quite obvious to women.) They understood the value of a simple, but effective, system.

  3. Mama Kalila

    Yea for finding a method you love/works for you!

    I tried BOM first… and it does not work for me. Going by it my body shows ovulation twice in a cycle about a week (sometimes more) apart. STM shows the first one is not real… cervix doesn’t open quite as much (starts too) and no temp rise even though I have fertile mucus that dries up. *I’m weird* lol.. It is a very easy method to learn though and I’ve heard it works well for a lot of people. But yeah… no giving up temps for me either… just not possible. Now if I can find my thermometer before my cycles come back…

    Btw I’m with you on the slightly off luteal phases. Mine alternate every other cycle.

  4. November

    This combination is exactly what we have been looking into switching to (we use STM right now)! I love what I’ve read of Billings so far and I think it would help me address some cycle issues I have, but I do not want to give up temping. It is just so reliable for me, and affirming to know I correctly identified ovulation. Thanks for the insights!

  5. Kristy

    I only started tracking in October, since my BC Rx had run out at the end of September (and I don’t have insurance anymore, yay…), so I feel like I’m still learning what’s normal for my body. Stupid PCOS makes me anxious every month that I won’t have a period. (Meanwhile, 16-year-old me would have LOVED to skip month at a time.) So far, so good, but I still don’t entirely feel like I know what I’m doing. I use an app on my phone that tracks against 15 different methods, so hopefully it’s somewhat accurate!

    (I definitely feel a lot better by NOT being on the pill. I may have cramps again, and I might be more emotional on occasion; but I’m so thankful to know that my body at least *seems* to be functioning like it should be that don’t even care about those things.)

  6. waywardson23

    We just had the President of BOMA-USA tell us to stop using Billings because we temp. I cannot make this up.

    While simplicity is important, one can make something TOO simple and leave out important information. There is a bit of intuition in any form of fertility awareness that shouldn’t be ignored.

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