Knowing the symptoms and signs that tell you are ovulating are good ways to predict if you are ovulating but to check the nature of your cervical discharge and your basal body temperature can be quite awkward.
An easier way would be to use the ovulation predictor kit (OPK) to test for ovulation and identify the best time to have sexual intercourse.
And, yes this test works very well to help you conceive and become pregnant.
This article explains in detail what is an ovulation test, how and when to perform the ovulation test and interpret its results to predict ovulation and your most fertile day. This will help you to plan your sexual intercourse days for a successful conception and pregnancy.
One in two couples tries to conceive on the wrong days of the menstrual cycle leading to frustration and impatience.
Ovulation test will help you to predict the ovulation time and find the most fertile days of the menstrual cycle, which will help you to conceive with little effort and time. That is why this test is called the ovulation predictor.
You should know that the ovulation day (meaning the 12 to 24 hours after ovulation) is the only time during your menstrual cycle or month when you can conceive.
How do ovulation tests work?
Luteinizing hormone, which is secreted by the pituitary gland in the brain is always present in the blood and urine.
Ovulation is triggered as a result of the LH (Luteinizing hormone) surge and the ovulation tests are based on the principle of detecting this increased hormone surge level in your urine, which occurs one or two days before ovulation.
That is why the ovulation test is also called the LH test. During this LH surge, the concentration of the LH hormone increases by 2 to 5 times in the urine. The surge lasts for one to three days.
Ovulation occurs about 24 to 48 hours after the LH surge and that means that ovulation occurs about 24 to 48 hours after the ovulation test shows a positive result.
That should, therefore, be the best days to have sexual intercourse to get pregnant, a day or two after the ovulation test shows a positive result.
How is ovulation test done? Procedure and reading the results
The procedure of this test is very simple. This test requires you to urinate on the end of a special test stick/strip called the urine ovulation test strip. Alternately, you can dip the end of the special strip of paper in a container containing your urine for 5 seconds.
Do not let the urine level to go beyond the max line or marker line on the test strip, which is indicated by arrows.
The ovulation test strip contains two lines of which one is the control line. If the other line (surge line) turns darker than the control line or is of the same color, then that indicates a positive ovulation test result and it is the day when there has been an LH surge.
A faint line indicates a negative ovulation test result, which means there has been no LH surge (and thus no ovulation). You should read the result in 3 to 5 minutes. Follow the instructions on the ovulation test kit carefully. To confirm a negative result wait for a complete reaction time of 10 minutes.
Once you have tested positive, testing need not be done again during that menstrual cycle and the strips that have been unused in the kit can be used during the next cycle. Used strips are not to be used again.
When to perform ovulation test?
In women with irregular menstrual cycles, it can be difficult to know on which day of the cycle to start using the ovulation test. Variations in the length of the menstrual cycle could mean the ovulation day will change.
In such a case, it is advised to do the test daily for a few months and maintain a record to get the pattern of your cycle and ovulation.
Or, you can wait for the buildup of the fertile cervical mucus to start testing.
What time of the day to test is something that does not seem to have a majority opinion.
Some suggest first thing in the morning, others suggest testing between 11 am to 3 pm in the afternoon.
The important thing is to test at the same time of the day every day.
Just ensure that you do not drink any fluid or water at least four hours before performing the test to have a fairly concentrated urine. And try to do the test at the same time every day.
The test is done once every day for a week before your expected ovulation day. If you have a regular 28-day cycle, ovulation usually occurs on the 14th day of the cycle.
How does ovulation testing help?
An ovulation test is not done to detect pregnancy but to predict the time or the day of ovulation and help you get pregnant.
Ovulation time is the most fertile period in your menstrual cycle and identifying that day with this test helps you to confirm that.
You can then plan your pregnancy with increased sexual activity during this ovulation period. Or, you can take precaution to avoid pregnancy, if you so desire.
What we mean by “during this period”, is three days immediately after a positive ovulation test result. This will mean two days before onset of ovulation and the day of ovulation.
Are ovulation tests accurate?
Yes, ovulation tests are fairly accurate. According to the American Pregnancy Association, ovulation tests can boast of 99% accuracy in detecting the LH surge, which usually occurs 24 to 48 hours prior to the ovulation.
However, in women who suffer from Luteinized Unruptured Follicle Syndrome (LUFS), there may not be any ovulation though the kit detects the LH surge.
Another condition where the ovulation test may be misleading is in women who have polycystic ovarian syndrome. In this condition, women may have false peaks of the LH hormone before the actual surge. You may therefore, be misled in timing your sexual activity.
Negative ovulation test result
A negative ovulation test can mean that you have not ovulated. At times, this can happen throughout a particular menstrual cycle and there could be reasons for this. Either, there was no LH surge and therefore, no ovulation or the ovulation kit could be faulty.
You could repeat the ovulation testing during the next menstrual cycle with another ovulation kit and brand. If you again do not get a positive result, you should see your doctor to rule out any pathology.
Can ovulation tests results be wrong? Factors that affect the test result
If you are associated with the following conditions and medications, the ovulation test may show an inaccurate result.
- An ongoing or recent pregnancy
- A recently terminated pregnancy
- Onset of menopause
- Wrongly performing the test and reading the result beyond the recommended 3 to 5 minute period
- Certain drugs such as fertility drugs (like clomid), birth control pills, and certain hormonal drugs containing hCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropins), LH (Luteinizing hormone) or LH inhibitors
- If you have been on contraceptive drugs and want to get pregnant, it is best to wait for a few cycles till your cycle stabilizes and becomes regular. You could then wait for two normal cycles before starting to test for ovulation.
Note of caution
Never use ovulation tests or fertility monitors as a contraceptive method because ovulation occurs 24to 48 hours after the LH surge and it is the LH surge which turns the ovulation test positive and not the ovulation.
Therefore, if you have had unprotected sex just before a positive test result and because the sperm can survive in the female reproductive tract for up to 5 days, the ovulated egg can still be fertilized leading to pregnancy.
Disadvantages of Ovulation Test
The ovulation test detects the rise in LH hormone in urine, which triggers ovulation and does not detect the ovulation itself.
In some conditions, LH surge can occur without release of an egg in which case though the test comes positive, ovulation is absent. Secondly, at times, a false LH surge can occur before the real one in which case also the same problem may be faced.