Overview of Ovulation Kits
An ovulation test kit is at-home ovulation test that can be purchased over the counter at a pharmacy or through online retailers. It is also referred to as an ovulation predictor kit, OPK test, or fertility kit.
Despite numerous names, the mechanism behind all ovulation kits is the same. They work by detecting levels of luteinizing hormone (LH) in urine, whose surge signals the ovary to release an egg, thus initiating ovulation.
Increased LH production in the pituitary gland is triggered by rising estrogen in the first half of the menstrual cycle. In fact, some ovulation test kits can also detect those levels of the estrogen derivative, called estrone-3-glucuronide (E3G).
A typical OPK kit comes with two components:
Set of ovulation test strips, which are meant to be submerged in urine
Ovulation stick, which reads the test strip and displays the results
Depending on the brand, there might be a five to seven-day supply of test strips while others might include a month's worth. Their cost ranges from $15 to $20 per cycle.
Some brands offer only ovulation strips without the stick. They are usually more cost-effective since they can be purchased in bulk. The change in color shows the results.
Using Ovulation Kits
By being very effective in detecting the LH surge before ovulation, ovulation test kits give a woman enough time to plan having sex within the same ovulation cycle.
When to Start Testing with Ovulation Kits
Because most women do not know exactly when they ovulate, they might be unsure of when to start testing. There are several ways to go about deciding when is the best time to start using OPK tests:
Narrowing down the fertile window prior to using a fertility kit can help women learn to recognize their body's clues that ovulation is approaching. This can be done with self-assessment tests for ovulation signs, such as measuring BBT or checking cervical mucus. Once the window in which ovulation is likely to happen is narrowed down, ovulation test kits can be used to confirm that the predictions are correct and that ovulation is, in fact, near.
- Starting testing on the 10th day of the cycle (often abbreviated as CD10, cycle day 10) and continuing daily until a positive reading is reached is also possible. As a reminder, Day 1 of a cycle is the first day of a menstrual bleed, and ovulation usually occurs two weeks before the start of the next period. Once a woman has a rough idea of when her ovulation occurs, she can plan to use the ovulation kits more precisely to confirm the LH surge.
How to Use Ovulation Strips
Testing with ovulation kits should be done around the same time every day, preferably in the morning after not urinating for three to four hours. One of two methods can be used and continued with each testing:
Urinating directly on the testing strip
Urinating into a clean cup and dipping the testing strip in the urine
An ovulation kit should include instructions specific to that brand explaining for how long the strip should be dipped in the urine, how long it takes to get the results, and how to correctly interpret them.
In most cases, dipping takes three to 10 seconds while the results appear in three to five minutes. Depending on the type of ovulation sticks, the results will be displayed by a change in color, a positive sign, or a smiley face if an LH surge is detected.
A positive result, in other words a confirmation of rising LH levels, means that ovulation is likely to happen within the next 24 to 36 hours; therefore, a couple should plan to have sex within that most fertile period.
Keeping a LH Levels Chart
Maintaining a chart with LH levels is crucial to making accurate ovulation predictions and knowing when it is best to have intercourse.
In its simplest form, an LH levels chart can consist of making daily observations in a personal agenda, a handmade calendar, or a downloadable fertility chart.
However, for better results, women are advised to maintain a more comprehensive record of their ovulation patters, such as one that includes:
- Period dates
Ovulation signs and symptoms: basal body temperature, consistency of cervical mucus, or cervix position and well as mild pelvic pain, mood swings, or breast tenderness
Although easy and straightforward, keeping an ovulation chart does take diligence. For this reason, some women prefer to use an ovulation monitor, a device that combines a fertility kit with an ovulation tracker, which traces ovulatory patterns to create predictions.
Women who are new to estimating ovulation might want to start by simply tracking their menstrual cycles for several months, noting their length and regularity. This will provide sufficient information to use ovulation predictors, like ovulation calendars and calculators, and to become more confident in making monthly estimations. With that knowledge, the usage of ovulation test kits is the most effective.
Although ovulation kits can confirm that LH levels are rising and that ovulation is likely to happen, they cannot confirm if it actually does occur. There are a number of ovulation problems, especially in women with PCOS or luteinized unruptured follicle syndrome (LOFS), which trigger false or premature LH surges that might produce incorrect test readings.
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- Frontiers in Public Health. (2017). Urinary Luteinizing Hormone Tests: Which Concentration Threshold Best Predicts Ovulation? Retrieved September 11, 2018 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5712333/
- University of California. (2012). Exploring Ovulation & Pregnancy Using Over-the-Counter Products. Retrieved September 11, 2018 from http://abt.ucpress.edu/content/ucpabt/74/9/613.full.pdf
- University of North Carolina. (2017). Ovulation Predictor Test Instructions. Retrieved September 11, 2018 from https://www.med.unc.edu/obgyn/timetoconceive/study-participant-resources/ovulation-predictor-test-instructions