Written by Gemma Rigby. Reviewed and approved by Dr Barak Lilian, intern in Obstetrics and Gynecology, Israel.
Basal body temperature (BBT) tracking is a popular method used by women to monitor their fertility to confirm ovulation and understand which phase of their cycle they are in. This involves measuring the body's resting temperature (sleeping temperature) and recording the values over time to identify ovulation and predict fertile periods. However, some women may question the relevance of BBT tracking after undergoing a hysterectomy, which involves the surgical removal of the uterus including the cervix (a partial hysterectomy removes the body of the uterus but not the cervix).
In this article, we will discuss 3 reasons BBT tracking can still benefit you after having a hysterectomy, and how it can help you better understand your body.
Before we dive into that, it’s essential to know the following in order to track your cycle:
- There are four phases of the menstrual cycle (menstruation, follicular, ovulation and luteal phase). You can learn more about these here.
- The hormone progesterone raises your body temperature.
- Progesterone is produced after your body ovulates.
You can also learn more about the menstrual cycle phases using our poster and in the Tempdrop Academy (available in the app when you subscribe to premium).
1. A hysterectomy only removes the uterus.
Firstly, it is essential to understand that a hysterectomy only removes the uterus and not the ovaries, which are responsible for producing hormones and releasing eggs.
Therefore, if you have undergone a hysterectomy* you can still ovulate and have menstrual cycles, although the bleeding will no longer occur as the uterus has been removed. For this reason, tracking BBT can still be helpful to confirm when ovulation has happened, and when you would usually have had your period.
You may be asking but why do I need to know this now? The reason is simple: the hormonal changes experienced during the cycle's different phases impact energy levels, moods, and even the calorie intake that our body requires. And even though your uterus has been removed, you may still experience mittelschmerz (ovary pain) at ovulation. Tracking your cycle will help you to understand if this pain is linked to ovulation, OR if it should be further investigated with your practitioner.
2. You can still track hormonal balance.
Secondly, BBT tracking can help you monitor your hormonal balance and identify any potential issues that may arise after a hysterectomy. For example, some women may experience hormonal imbalances or changes in hormone levels due to the removal of the uterus. You can also recognize symptoms indicating the onset of perimenopause. Tracking BBT can help identify changes in your menstrual cycle, for example, high levels of estrogen or poor progesterone. This allows you to take the appropriate measures to manage these changes.
3. It helps identify potential health issues following hysterectomy
Thirdly, BBT tracking can be useful in identifying potential health issues that may arise after a hysterectomy. For example, if you experience consistently high temperatures (outside of your normal pattern), it may indicate an infection or inflammation in the body, which may require medical attention. By tracking BBT regularly, you can identify any changes in your body and seek medical advice promptly.
Wait! There's more.
In addition to these benefits, tracking BBT can also be a helpful tool in tracking menopausal symptoms that may arise after a hysterectomy. Menopausal symptoms can vary widely, and tracking BBT can help identify patterns and triggers, allowing women to manage their symptoms more effectively. For example, if you experience hot flashes, tracking BBT can help determine when in the cycle they most often occur, how long they last, and (if you are recording notes in the app) you can also start to identify what triggers them. This allows you to make lifestyle changes or seek medical advice accordingly.
Ultimately, although a hysterectomy involves the surgical removal of the uterus, it does not necessarily mean that BBT tracking is irrelevant. BBT tracking can still be beneficial in confirming ovulation, monitoring hormonal imbalances, identifying potential health issues, and tracking menopausal symptoms.
Therefore, women who have undergone a hysterectomy can still benefit from tracking their BBT and should continue to do so to understand their bodies better and manage any changes that may occur.
For any questions regarding this please contact us via our Facebook Group.
* Assuming that only a hysterectomy is done: only the uterus is removed and not the ovaries too.