Ovulation Tests: How They Work & When to Use Them

Team Peanut
Team Peanutover 1 year ago6 min read

Ovulation test strips

An ovulation test isn’t some kind of reproductive health pop quiz – you’ll be relieved to hear! But if you’re a student at the School of TTC (Trying to Conceive) it can be a handy learning tool to help you get to know your body and the most fertile time in your cycle.

But what actually is an ovulation test, how does it work, and when should you do it? Read on to find out.

Table of Contents 📝

  • What is an ovulation test?
  • What are some of the best ovulation tests to try?
  • Are ovulation tests worth it?

What is an ovulation test?

An ovulation test is a simple test you can do at home to help predict whether you’ll be ovulating soon. It’s sometimes known as an ovulation predictor kit (OPK). You can buy these kits at most drugstores or online.

How do ovulation tests work?

Ovulation tests work by detecting a surge in luteinizing hormone (LH) in your urine. This is the hormone that transmits a message to your ovaries: Time to send out the egg now!

If the ovulation test picks up on this surge, it means you’re likely to ovulate in the next 24 to 36 hours. Then all you need to do is light the candles, put on some music, and head to the bedroom…

When should I start testing for ovulation?

So, when should I take an ovulation test? you ask. Well, ovulation occurs about midway through your menstrual cycle, meaning you’ll want to start testing a few days before that point.

To illustrate: If you have a regular 28-day cycle, you should ovulate around day 14. Therefore, to help you pinpoint when that egg will be released, you would start using an ovulation test daily from day 10 or 11.

Knowing when to take an ovulation test can be trickier if you have irregular cycles. Say you have a 30-day cycle one month and a 35-day cycle the next – for the first month you might have ovulated on day 16 and the second on day 21.

To get around this, you can:

  • Use the length of your shortest cycle in the last 6 months to guide you. If that’s a 30-day cycle with an approximate ovulation date of day 16, you could start testing on day 12 to 13 of your current cycle.
  • Test for a longer period of time. This may be more reliable than the method above, but it can also get expensive if you have to buy a new OPK regularly.

How do I use an ovulation test?

An ovulation test comes with a number of ovulation strips. To take the test, all you need to do is to pee on one of the strips or dunk it in a sterile container of urine. What happens next depends on the type of OPK you have.

If your kit contains only ovulation strips, you would look to see if a test line appears next to the control line on the strip (after about 5 minutes). When the test line shows up darker than (or as dark as) the control line, that’s a positive result and it means you’re likely to ovulate in the next 24 to 36 hours.

On the other hand, if your kit comes with a digital reader you would insert the stick into the reader and wait to see if a symbol is displayed to indicate a positive result.

How long after a positive ovulation test are you fertile?

As a positive ovulation test result means that you’re likely to ovulate in 24 to 36 hours, you have approximately that amount of time plus about 12 to 24 hours after ovulation has occurred to make a baby.

Once you get a positive result, you don’t need to wait to have sex until the actual day of ovulation. Sperm can survive for up to 5 days inside your body, so you can get going with baby-making whenever you’re ready!

If you’re also wondering: How many days post ovulation can you test for pregnancy? The answer is it’s best to wait for about 14 days – until the date when you would expect your next period to start.

How accurate is an ovulation test?

When used correctly, an ovulation test can be up to 99% accurate. To give your kit the best chance, you can:

  • Take the test at the same time each day
  • Don’t drink too much before taking the test
  • Familiarize yourself with the instruction booklet included

It’s important to note that a positive result means you’re highly likely to ovulate soon, but it doesn’t guarantee it will happen, or that conception will take place.

Certain drugs, such as birth control pills and fertility drugs, can also lead to an inaccurate test result. If you’re taking medication, you could check with your doctor before using an ovulation test.

What are some of the best ovulation tests to try?

The number of different ovulation test kits out there can be a bit overwhelming, so we’ve picked 3 solid options to give you a flavor of what’s available:

Clearblue Digital Ovulation Test

This OPK contains a digital reader and 20 ovulation strips, meaning it should last for several months. Once you’ve inserted a strip into the reader, a result is shown in 3 minutes. You’ll get a smiley face symbol pop up if an LH surge is detected. This makes it more user-friendly than kits where you have to interpret a test line. You’ll spot a lot of women sharing these on Peanut!

Easy@Home Ovulation Test Kit

For a comprehensive option, you could try this kit, which contains 50 ovulation strips and 20 pregnancy test strips. There’s no digital reader, making the kit a good choice if you’re on a budget. It’s designed to be used with a free ovulation predictor app, to help you keep track of your test results.

Pregmate Ovulation Test Strips

You can buy these ovulation strips in packs of 50 or 100 so they’re particularly good value for money if your TTC journey is a little longer, or if you need to test on more days in your cycle. Although a budget option, they’re still over 99% accurate.

Are ovulation tests worth it?

For many women, ovulation tests are a helpful and reliable way to identify the most fertile time of their cycle and boost their chances of conceiving.
Yes, it might involve messing about with little cups of urine on a few days in the month, but it’s probably worth it for that cute, cuddly end result, right?

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