Think We Ovulated but No Temp Rise


My wife and I have been carefully charting temperature and mucus for the past nine months since her cycles returned post-partum.
This was our eighth child and we are now trying to postpone pregnancy for a while.

My wife’s temperature sign has generally been more helpful than the mucus sign, as she has tacky mucus pretty much all the time, and sometimes the only indicator of any change is some thicker, cloudier mucus. This month, however, she had 24 hours with the classic egg white mucus, followed by ovulation pain in the middle of the night. Then her mucus went tacky for a day, and then dry again. It is somewhat unusual for her to record “dry”. So we’re two days since the ovulation pain, and two days into drying up, but as yet, there has been no temperature rise. In fact, her temps have been somewhat higher than normal all through this cycle so far.

She has a slight cold, but otherwise we’ve had no unusual stress in our lives, and her sleeping pattern has been normal.

I should probably also mention that my wife is 42, that we have practiced NFP for ten years (interrupted by five pregnancies), and that since we began charting again, the length of her cycles has gradually gone down from 38 to about 30 days.

So I have two questions:

1. What might account for the lack of thermal shift?

2. Can we rely on the combination of dry mucus and ovulation pain to determine the start of post-ovulatory infertility, ignoring the temps, or should we wait for a clear shift?

Normally, we would steadfastly wait for a temperature shift, BUT Lent is nearly upon us and every Lent we abstain from marital relations entirely. Waiting much longer now could effectively add two weeks to Lent!

Thanks for any help you can provide.




Congratulations on both your newest addition and your commitment to NFP! Here are answers to your specific questions and a few additional guidelines.

1. What might account for the lack of thermal shift?

It is possible that your wife is experiencing one of the most common signs associated with decreasing levels of progesterone as menopause approaches. These include a shorter luteal phase (which could account for your wife’s shorter cycles), and a much delayed or weak thermal shift. Over time, progesterone levels continue to drop as a normal response to aging. When there is no ovulation, there will be no corpus leuteum, so there can be no progesterone, and no thermal shift.

2. Can we rely on the combination of dry mucus and ovulation pain to determine the start of post-ovulatory infertility, ignoring the temps, or should we wait for a clear shift?

You should wait for a temperature shift to confirm infertility; be patient as it might come later than before. It might help to know that mucus may also vary during premenopause, generally decreasing in both quantity and quality, associated with fewer fertile days. Then it is best to watch for “mucus patches,” defined as one or more days of mucus followed by dry days but NO thermal shift. After four such dry days, your wife should consider herself back in Phase I, her pre-ovulation infertile time. If mucus again appears, she should consider herself in Phase II, her fertile time. This might continue through several mucus patches. It might also be accompanied by another common occurrence in premenopausal women, breakthrough bleeding, which is not menstruation, even though it might appear to be. Eventually you should find a thermal shift to crosscheck her mucus dry up, confirming that your wife is in Phase III, her post-ovulation infertile time.

Although you haven’t mentioned it in your letter, another sign that many women find very helpful is the cervix sign. The cervix opens and feels soft during times of fertility, but is closed and hard otherwise. It offers yet another crosscheck for couples seeking confirmation during the fertile time.

Best wishes,

Ron and Andrea Gronsky

Answered By:

Andrea and Ron Gronsky
Andrea and Ron Gronsky, PhD, Professional Members of CANFP,now retired, taught the Sympto Thermal Method through the Couple to Couple League, in the Oakland Region.

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