Confused by My Temp Pattern


Dear Experts,
I have been charting for approx. five years. I had a laparotomy and was diagnosed with endometriosis. The Dr. told me we had less than 5% chance of ever getting pregnant. We have since been blessed with two children ages three years, and 11 months (and we had a miscarriage before our first child was born). Currently I have no symptoms of endometriosis (heavy periods, painful periods, etc.)

There seems to be a pattern with my temperature that I can’t understand. From the time I have my period to the time I ovulate my temperature is around 97.1 F. It doesn’t fluctuate much. Around day 15 or 16 it drops low to sometimes around 96.4 F. Then the next day up to 97.8 and stays there for approx 12 days. My peak day has been consistently (for the past several months) about three days before the rise in temperature. I am not sure when I ovulate. Could it be that my body takes a few days to reflect the effect of progesterone through the temps?

The other thing is, could my temperatures be too low to conceive? Is there perhaps a luteal phase problem? The last couple months my periods have been very light with three or four days of brown, dark red spotting at the end. I thought this was an indication of a luteal phase problem in the prior cycle. Or, should I get my thyroid checked?

If you have any insight as to what I should do or perhaps what could be happening, please let me know.



Dear Marianne,

Very good questions, and it sounds like you have been making very good observations. The temperature can drop before the rise normally, and the delay you are describing could be a normal variation in the temperature. Some of the other diagnostic possibilities could include slightly abnormal thyroid function, or sleep deprivation, or low progesterone in the luteal phase. Women with endometriosis frequently have lower than normal progesterone levels, and this could also lead to the spotting you describe. It may be helpful to be evaluated by a physician trained in the medical application of natural family planning, who may want to test your progesterone, estradiol and thyroid in the middle of your luteal phase, based on your charting.

Good observations – keep it up, and someday you may want to consider becoming a NFP teacher – we certainly need more of them in California!


Lynn Keenan, M.D

Answered By:

Lynn Keenan, MD
Lynn Keenan, MD, Immediate Past President of the CANFP Executive Board, is a Clinical Professor at the UCSF/Fresno Internal Medicine Residency Program (now retired), Board Certified in Sleep and Internal Medicine, and Vice President of the International Institute for Restorative Reproductive Medicine. She earned her BSN at UCLA, her MD at Temple University School of Medicine, and completed her Residency in Internal Medicine at UCSF/Fresno. Dr. Keenan served on the Executive Board of CANFP since 2004, as President of CANFP since 2010, and graciously agreed to continue her service to CANFP on the Advisory Board at the beginning of 2019, upon her retirement from the Executive Board of CANFP

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