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
Easy@home Ovulation Strips
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. One box includes 50 ovulation test strips and 20 pregnancy test strips and it comes with an accompanying Premom Ovulation Predictor 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!
The Best Ovulation Kit
PREGMATE 50 Ovulation and 20 Pregnancy Test Strips Predictor Kit
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. 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.
Best Digital Ovulation Test
Clearblue Advanced Digital Ovulation Test
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. One pack includes 10 ovulation tests and the digital reader will display a "smiley face" if you are at peak fertility or approaching ovulation. 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.
Best Connected Ovulation Kit
Femometer 50 Ovulation Test Strips
The Femometer combines ovulation test strips with a digital reader that will “interpret” the results for you with easy-to-understand read-out on the app. To use the ovulation kit, you insert a test strip, then take a picture and upload it to the Femometer app. The app will then “read” the results and determine your fertility. You can upload multiple tests and over time, the app will help you determine your unique cycle as well. The kit includes 50 ovulation strips and 20 pregnancy tests. This is a great choice if 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.
Best Touchscreen Monitor
Clearblue Fertility Monitor Touch Screen
The Clearblue Fertility digital monitor is designed to help predict the most fertile days by tracking the rise in hormones that lead up to ovulation. The monitor is proven to increase the chances of getting pregnant and is easy-to-use to boot. It tracks changes in two important fertility hormones: estrogen and luteinizing hormone (LH). Because fertile days can vary each cycle, using a fertility monitor is a sure way to know when your actual fertile window starts and ends. The best part: the monitor is digital, has a touch-screen, and gives accurate results. Users get a “smiley face” to indicate when high and peak fertility has been achieved. You’ll be surprised at how fun it is to see that flashing smiley face—and even more surprised if you get a positive pregnancy test!Read Review
The Best App for Support While TTC
Modern Fertility Ovulation Test
The great part about this ovulation test and free app is that it comes with a built-in community. TTC can be lonely, isolating business and unless you've been there, it's hard to understand--which is why the support you'll find with Modern Fertility is invaluable. The test works much like the other digital app ovulation kits--it tracks your LH levels and predicts ovulation. It also very clearly spells out your 2 most fertile days. It's also great for people with irregular cycles, and you can help the app "learn" you results by taking a picture of the strips with your phone.
The Best Wearable Fertility Predictor
Ava Fertility Bracelet
The only FDA-cleared wearable fertility bracelet, Ava collects data about you while you're sleeping and wearing the bracelet, then syncs that data to the Ava app in the morning to help you identify the most fertile days in your cycle. By examining parameters that include your body temperature, heart rate, perfusion, and breathing rates, Ava will "learn" your cycle and help easily notify you when you are most likely to be fertile. Ava can also be used to track your cycle when you're not pregnant and then, track your pregnancy if you do conceive.
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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