Are you considering using an ovulation test to help you conceive? These at-home tests 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 are Ovulation Tests?
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
In my experience, when you begin tracking your ovulation, you will use more tests as you learn to gauge your ovulation and how to read them. 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 rises as you approach ovulation (this is the LH surge that predicts ovulation occurring in about 24-36 hours), peaks on the day of ovulation when your egg is actually released and lives for 24 hours, then drops to undetectable levels.
So, how do you use ovulations tests? To use these 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.
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.
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.
Pros & Cons
Pregnancy Tests Included
Not Early Detection Pregnancy Tests
Easy@home ovulation strips are available in bulk online and come in a box smaller than a shoe box that’s delivered right to your door. Instead of the bulky plastic covers, the tests are just the strip part of a more expensive ovulation test, so they have less waste and can be discrete.
- Includes 50 ovulation test strips and 20 pregnancy test strips
- Accompanying Premom Ovulation Predictor app
- Detects LH hormone in urine at the FDA standard level of 25 mIU/mL
- Detects the hCG hormone in urine at the FDA standard level of 25 mIU/mL
Reviews for these ovulation strips are positive, and mention the ease of use, especially with the accompanying app. Personally, I loved these tests because of the convenience in purchasing them, their low price, and because they also include a bonus 20 pregnancy tests as well, so you can get started testing to see if your efforts were successful as soon as you want to as well. All in all, this test kit offers massive savings—which is helpful, because then you can start saving for baby!
Pros & Cons
Clearblue has multiple ovulation tests, but this is the one I personally used in the beginning of my journey of trying to conceive. I originally thought this must be the best test because of the price—but now, I know better! What you’re paying for with these tests is the plastic case and digital technology to make it user-friendly. However, they are extremely easy to read and use, so they can be incredibly helpful for beginner testers. This test can also be purchased in-store, which is important if you are on a time crunch to grab a test.
- Includes 20 ovulation tests
- Digital readout
- Uses “smiley face” to tell you if you are at peak fertility or approaching
- Reusable reader
- 99.99% accurate at detecting LH surge
- Tracks both estrogen and LH
Although these digital ovulation tests are more expensive, they do have a pretty cool feature in that they can be reused up to 4 times or until peak fertility is hit. The same test will interpret your results until peak fertility is achieved; after that, it can not be reused. That means that you aren’t wasting tests trying to discern your most fertile days.
Pros & Cons
Includes 20 pregnancy tests
Box is not discreet
Like the Easy@Home ovulation strips, the PREGMATE is an ovulation kit that includes both ovulation test strips and pregnancy test strips to see if your well-timed efforts were successful. The box is definitely not discreet like the Easy@Home ovulation kit, however, with bright colors and bold letters, so if discreteness is what you’re after, this may not be the kit for you.
PREGMATE Ovulation Kit Features
- Can detect LHhormones levels of 25 miu/ml
- Over 99% accurate at detecting LH surge.
- 50 ovulation strips
- 20 pregnancy test strips
Reviews for PREGMATE include positive notes on how accurate they are and one reviewer even noted that her doctor recommended this brand to her, so it’s a brand with some trust behind it. Truthfully, the process behind any ovulation and pregnancy test strips are very similar, so it really comes down to what you are looking for out of an ovulation kit.
Pros & Cons
Syncs to tracking app to give you full picture of your fertility
Detects 0~65mIU/ml LH hormone levels
Digital reader with easy-to-understand indicators
Only includes 6 strips to start
If you want to take your ovulation and cycle tracking to the next level of connectivity, the Femometer Digital Ovulation Test might be just the right ovulation kit for you. The Femometer combines ovulation test strips with a digital reader that will “interpret” the results for you with easy-to-understand read-out.
To use the ovulation kit, you insert a test strip into the digital reader, then dip the tip of the test strip into the urine. The digital reader will then “read” the results and send them to the synced app on your phone, where you can see the test to determine your fertility.
Femometer Digital Ovulation Test Features
- Syncs to app
- Detects 0~65mIU/ml LH hormone levels
- Digital reader with easy-to-understand indicators
- Stores 100 test strips
- Includes manual to help you track your cycle
Many reviews on Amazon mentioned how some users rely on the app and digital reader to help them understand their cycle and both get pregnant or try to avoid pregnancy if they are using a natural family planning form of birth control. It makes tracking your cycle a lot easier if the idea of paper of charting or graphing intimidates you, or you just want a super streamlined and easy way to visualize your fertile days. The one drawback of this kit is that it only comes with 6 ovulation test strips to start, so you’ll definitely want to buy more right off the bat so you don’t find yourself wishing you had extra on hand.
Pros & Cons
Touch screen fertility monitor
Easy-to-use and understand
Stores 6 cycles of data
Does not include test strips
The Clearblue Fertility monitor can be used to track ovulation (with separately-sold ovulation test strips, of course), but it’s definitely more for users who want a more advanced look into their cycle. This tool is a handheld, touchscreen monitor that prompts you when to test, then stores the test data, along with other data, like when you have your period and when you have sex. Put together, the monitor will help build and learn your cycle to give you a more accurate prediction of ovulation.
Clearblue Fertility Monitor Features:
- Fertility monitor
- “Learns” your personal cycle
- Stores 6 cycles of data
This fertility monitor may not be right for everyone, so it’s definitely one worth looking into before you invest. You may not need this level of technology to help you conceive, but if you are having trouble getting pregnant and your doctor has recommended that you chart your cycles, this can help you do that. Or, if you’re just curious and want to get to know your cycle more, this is a fertility monitor that can give you a more clear understanding of your menstrual cycle and overall fertility. But, don’t forget–test strips are sold separately, so don’t forget to pick those up too if you choose this fertility monitor.
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?
Every woman’s cycle is different, so it can be helpful to be familiar with your cycle to help narrow down when you usually ovulate. 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. If you don’t have a steady cycle, you may need to start earlier and use them for multiple days. You can also pay attention to your cycle and note when your discharge turns into thin, watery or egg-white consistency, because that’s a sign that ovulation is nearing. (Peak discharge usually coincides with peak fertility, because it helps “catch” the sperm and get it to where it needs to go.) To help you narrow it down, you can also track when you get positive ovulation tests with a calendar or fertility app. This will help you better understand your cycle, and can be helpful if you need to consult with a doctor down the road a well.
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.
What does it mean if I don’t get a positive test?
If you try for a few months and don’t get positive tests you should consult your doctor for further ovulation. In some cases, negative ovulation tests could also just mean you are calculating wrong, or are ovulating earlier or later in your cycle and missing ovulation with the tests.
Where can I go for help?
If you need guidance, you can always go to your doctor. 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.
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