Ovulation Predictor Kits
Many methods exist for tracking your dates of ovulation. Some, such as tracking changes in your cervical mucus or using an ovulation calculator, are free. But many women rely on over-the-counter ovulation predictor kits, which can be purchased at drugstores like CVS, Rite-aid and Walgreens, and at retailers like Wal-mart, K-Mart, and Target. You can also find ovulation calculators online at Amazon.com. They run about $15 to $40, and you can save money by purchasing in bulk online.
Two types of ovulation predictor kits exist – those that measure the luteining hormone in your urine and those that measure estrogen in your saliva. This article explains how to use both and evaluates some of the more popular brands.
Ovulation Predictor Test Strips
Ovulation predictor test strips measure the amount of LH (luteining hormone) in your urine. LH peaks right before you ovulate, giving most women a 36-hour window to try to conceive before they ovulate, and another 24 hours while they are ovulating. While you may get pregnant up to 24 hours after you ovulate, because an egg lives for 24 hours, the best time to try to conceive is the few days prior to ovulation.
Many fertility specialists say that Ovulation Predictor Kits (OPKs) are more reliable than other ways of tracking your fertility. Your results may vary, though, if you have an irregular cycle. Additionally, if you have a long cycle, using an OPK every day until you ovulate, starting on day 10 of your cycle, gets expensive.
Additionally, OPKs only detect the hormone surge that precedes ovulation; they can’t tell if you will actually release an egg during your cycle.
To get the best results, follow the directions in the package for your specific test precisely. Keep in mind, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a common cause of infertility, may affect the results of the test, as will certain fertility drugs, including Clomid.
How to Use an Ovulation Predictor Kit
Much like an over-the counter pregnancy test, you simply urinate (mid-stream) on the test strip. In most tests, you will see a control line and then a line that indicates the amount of LH in your urine. If the test result line is the same color or darker than the control line, you are experiencing the hormone surge that indicates you will ovulate soon—usually within 12 to 36 hours of the surge.
Unlike a pregnancy test, you don’t use an OPK with your first-morning urine. Instead, wait until about 2 PM – anytime after noon may be okay. You may have a hormone surge in the morning, but it takes 4 hours to show up in your urine. You may also want to test twice a day, once in the afternoon and once in the evening, to make sure you don’t “miss” the surge.
Since ovulation times vary, you should begin testing on day 10 of your cycle, which is approximately five days after the start of your period. These numbers may vary if you have an exceptionally long or exceptionally short cycle. Continue testing until you detect the LH surge.
Ovulation Kits That Measure Saliva
The QTest, Ovuscope, MaybeBaby and Fertile-Focus saliva ovulation test kits are just a few examples of kits which test for estrogen, rather than LH, to determine time of ovulation. Most of these kits are about $20 to $30, although others exist that are much more expensive.
A saliva ovulation test kit is essentially a small, re-useable 40X to 60X microscope. Some kits work with a supply of slides, while others, which are more expensive, let you test right on the lens. Tests are approximately deemed 98 percent accurate and capable of detecting ovulation up to 72 hours in advance.
As your body nears the time of ovulation, in addition to an LH surge you will experience an estrogen surge. This surge manifests in saline in your saliva. Saliva Ovulation Predictor Kits detect this saline, which shows up as a fern-like pattern on the microscope slide.
How to Use a Saliva Ovulation Predictor Kit
You can use the test first thing in the morning, or anytime during the day, as long as you have not eaten or drank anything, brushed your teeth or smoked for at least two hours before testing.
Use fresh saliva to test; swish your saliva around in your mouth and apply fresh saliva from under your tongue to the test slide.
If you are near the time of ovulation, you will see a fern-like pattern on the slide. During the transition phase, the slide will contain a mixture of ferns and small bubbles. You are not ovulating or in transitions if you see only tiny bubbles.
Keep in mind, smoking, eating, drinking or brushing your teeth up to two hours before taking the test could affect the results. Pregnancy, recent pregnancy, menopause, hormone-based birth control methods and hormone replacement therapy may also affect the test.
You may have to test for a few months before you begin to plan your pregnancy to recognize the fern pattern. Keep track of your cycle by marking every menstrual period on a calendar, too, so that you can begin testing just prior to your most likely time of ovulation. You may want to test at other times of month, too, for a comparison.
If, after several months, you are seeing ferns all the time, or not seeing any ferns around your suspected time of ovulation, check with your doctor. You may be producing estrogen all month, perhaps due to a lack of the hormone progesterone, or you may not be producing enough estrogen to conceive.
Author: Dawn Allcot
Do you know your baby's birth stone? Birth Flower? How about when you'll be handing over the car keys? Check out our popular Fun Birthday Facts Calculator to discover fun trivia about your baby's birth or due date!