Although you may have spent a considerable amount of your life up until this point trying to avoid pregnancy, it turns out that for some people, actually getting pregnant can be harder than you think.
I know, it’s a bit unfair, right?
Improving your chances at successfully getting pregnant means understanding how exactly your cycle works: you need to time having sex to right before or at the time of ovulation, because that’s when your egg is released and can be fertilized. But how do you know when you’re ovulating?
For some women, there are physical signs, like an increase in cervical mucus and body temperature. But for many, it can be hard to tell–and even harder to know exactly when the best time to get busy with it is. And that’s where ovulation tests come in.
The right ovulation test can help you identify when your body is getting ready to release an egg, so you can optimize your chances of conceiving. Here’s what you need to know about the best ovulation tests on the market, along with how they work.
- What is an Ovulation Test?
- What to Look for in an Ovulation Test
- How Ovulation Tests Work
- When to Use an Ovulation Test
- How Do You Use Ovulation Tests?
- Who Should be Using Ovulation Tests
- Best Overall Pick for Ovulation Tests: Easy@Home Ovulation Strips
- The Best Ovulation Kit: PREGMATE Predictor Kit
- Best Digital Ovulation Test: Clearblue Advanced Digital Ovulation Test
- Best Connected Ovulation Kit: Femometer
- Best Touchscreen Monitor: Clearblue Fertility Monitor Touch Screen
- The Best App for Support While TTC: Modern Fertility
- The Best Wearable Fertility Predictor: Ava Bracelet
- Let's Compare
What is an Ovulation Test?
Ovulation tests are at-home tests that allow you to use a urine dip-stick—similar to a pregnancy test—to detect the Luteinizing hormone (LH) that your body produces when you get ready to ovulate. Ovulation tests help pick up on the rise in hormones that occur as you approach ovulation, often called the LH surge, so you know when you are at your peak fertility.
By determining if you have rising levels of LH, an ovulation test can help predict if ovulation is about to occur in the next 12-36 hours, thus hopefully boosting your chances of timing intercourse to right before ovulation to achieve pregnancy.
What to Look for in an Ovulation Test
Ovulation tests can be purchased at most regular drugstores, such as Walgreens or Walmart, and come in single or bulk packs. In my experience, you require more than one test to track your ovulation, so when in doubt, go with the bulk pack to save money.
The actual ovulation tests look similar to a pregnancy test and are used in the same way. As with any product, it can be overwhelming to choose a brand to use. But also similar to pregnancy tests, the technology in may of the tests are the same, and come down to slight differences in how sensitive they are to detecting and displaying the hormone, as well as packing and user-features.
Some ovulation tests also come as ovulation kits, which may include additional tools to help you conceive, such as ovulation strips and an app or chart to track other fertility symptoms, such as increased cervical mucus or temperature. Not all women want to use additional signs of fertility, so you should choose the method you are most comfortable with.
How Ovulation Tests Work
Ovulation tests work by detecting Luteinizing Hormone (LH)—as your LH rises, it triggers ovulation, so an ovulation test is testing the rise in the hormone.
LH works like this:
- It rises as you approach ovulation
- There is an LH surge that predicts ovulation occurring in about 24-36 hours
- LH peaks on the day of ovulation when your egg is actually released and lives for 24 hours
- LH drops to undetectable levels after the egg has been released
When to Use an Ovulation Test
To figure out when to start using ovulation tests, you should be aware of how long your cycle generally is. If you have a 28-day cycle, count 14 days prior to that and use that as a guideline for ovulation. To test this theory, start using the ovulation tests (can use one a day at this point until you start to see a faint line) a couple days prior to 14 days.
If you have a shorter or longer cycle, pay attention to your cervical mucus discharge and start testing when you notice an increase in watery, thin discharge, as that is another sign ovulation is nearing.
You will likely see the darkest line on your test around the day of ovulation and then it will get lighter as the LH level goes down. If you are unable to determine when you are ovulating, consult with your care provider.
How Do You Use Ovulation Tests?
To use an ovulation tests, you dip the test is urine, or you “pee on the stick,” and a line will appear if you are ovulating.
Like pregnancy tests, there is a control line so you can compare. The darker the test line appears, the more LH the test has detected. If you’re not approaching ovulation, there won’t be a line. It’s also important to realize that because test picks up LH, it’s possible that you could have already ovulated if you get a positive result. The key when using an ovulation test is to try to time sex to a day or two before you actually ovulate.
Women that are trying to conceive will often use a few tests monthly to track their ovulation to know which days they are most fertile and to try to get to know their cycle more. Even if you have a pretty regular, predictable cycle, not everyone ovulates the same every month and many things, from changes in sleep to stress, can impact your cycle.
Who Should be Using Ovulation Tests
Ovulation tests are not a necessity for everyone. Some may choose to use them when they begin trying to conceive, while others may only turn to them if they aren’t successful at getting pregnant. And still others may never use them at all.
The choice is a personal one, and you should always consult with your doctor with any concerns you may have about your own fertility.
Personally, I had trouble conceiving with my first child. We went to our family doctor and were referred to a fertility clinic but at the time, based on our age and health history, we didn’t quality to be seen until we had tried to conceive on our own for at least one year.
So, ovulation tests were one of the ways I felt I could help improve our chances to conceive, right at home. And as a bonus, you can learn a lot about your reproductive health and hormones by using ovulation tests and tracking when it occurs, how long your cycle is, and other symptoms you notice.
The accuracy of ovulation tests really depends on your comfort level in getting to know your cycle and testing too, so the more your practice and pay attention to your other fertility symptoms, like increased cervical mucus, the more accurate your charting can be.
OK, so are you wondering what the best ovulation tests to use are? Let’s take a look at our top picks.
Best Overall Pick for Ovulation Tests
The Best Ovulation Kit
Best Digital Ovulation Test
Best Connected Ovulation Kit
Best Touchscreen Monitor
The Best App for Support While TTC
The Best Wearable Fertility Predictor
Clearblue Advanced Digital Ovulation Test
Femometer Digital Ovulation Test with Bluetooth
Clearblue Fertility Monitor, Touch Screen
Modern Fertility Ovulation Test
As a reminder, there are no guarantees when it comes to having a baby and if you need guidance or you feel like your efforts are getting you nowhere, be sure to seek professional help.
Also, friends are a great resource—once you start talking about your own fertility journey, you may be surprised how many people have been in the same boat. When in doubt, however, always speak to your doctor, especially if you have been trying without success or have concerns about your fertility.
Frequently Asked Questions
When should I start using ovulation tests?
You can start using ovulation tests whenever you want in your journey to conceive. Some women prefer to know as soon as they start trying, while others may prefer to see what happens before they invest in the process of ovulation tests and timing.
When in my cycle should I start using them?
In a 28-day cycle, it’s usually expected that ovulation occurs somewhere around day 14, so you could start taking the ovulation tests around day 11 or 12. However, every woman is different.
What does it mean when I get a positive test?
When you get a positive test, it means you are in a fertile window, so likely, the day or two before and a day or two after are your most fertile days. It also means your body has the LH hormone needed to ovulate and contribute to conceiving. There is a chance when using ovulation tests that it will pick up when ovulation has already occurred, so keep that in mind.
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