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.
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.
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, 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. 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.
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 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 doctor.
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.
OK, so are you wondering what the best ovulation tests to use are? Let’s take a look at our two 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.
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.
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.