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How Do Ovulation Tests Fit Into Fertility Charting?

Many have found ovulation predictor kits, luteinizing hormone test strips, and the new Proov progesterone test strips helpful for understanding their menstrual cycle. But how do they work? Are they reliable and worth the cost?

To understand how these test strips work, let’s revisit the menstrual cycle and hormones at play before each event occurs. To recap,

Menstrual Phase

Hormones are low and the uterus sheds its lining.

Follicular Phase

The body prepares for ovulation. The rise of estrogen triggers luteinizing hormone about 12-36 hours before the egg releases.

Ovulatory Phase

The egg releases.

Luteal Phase

The follicle that grew the egg transforms into the Corpus Luteum with an increase in progesterone and later estrogen.

Types of At-Home Hormone Ovulation Tests

Ovulation Predictor Kits

Ovulation predictor kits (OPKs) give you Yes or No results to let you know if your luteinizing hormone (LH) levels are high.

Pros

Little guesswork, easy to use

Cons

Expensive, limited in the information they provide

How to Use

Start testing on day 7 of your menstrual cycle (once you learn your cycle, this can be changed to begin testing 2-3 days before you normally ovulate). It is best to test mid-afternoon as it takes LH 4-6 hours to show up in the urine. Testing first thing in the morning probably will not yield an accurate result. Each day, read the Yes or No result. If you are trying to conceive, time lovemaking to happen after you receive a positive test.

ovulation chart

Luteinizing Hormone Test Strips

Luteinizing hormone test strips have two lines on them. The test line will be as dark or darker than the control line if LH is at a high level.

Pros

You interpret the result for yourself, can be bought in bulk for an affordable price, provides more information about where your levels are at based on line darkness.

Cons

Can be sensitive and vary greatly depending on time of day and cycle day.

How to Use

Follow the guidelines for OPKs. Place strips from each day in a safe place and watch the progression. You should see the line darken. Keep testing until the two lines are no longer equal and the test line is darker than the control. Have sex everyday until the test turns negative again if trying to conceive.

You will see your temperature go up after this if ovulation occurred. If using LH testing strips to avoid pregnancy, they can act as an additional fertility sign to help confirm ovulation. However, on their own they cannot be a sole confirmation that ovulation has occurred.

ovultation temp drop

Proov Progesterone Test Strips

Pros

Accurate to confirm ovulation and can reveal a low progesterone issue

Cons

Can be costly

How to Use

Using first morning urine, follow the guidelines on the package. If your result is negative, you will see two lines appear on the test strip. If it is positive for high levels of progesterone, you will see a very faint or non-existent line in the test area and a fully colored line in the control area. Compare the results to your BBT and cervical mucus patterns on your chart as a backup method to confirm ovulation.

BBT

Are These Ovulation Tests Accurate?

Yes, they usually are. However, positive OPK or LH test strips do not mean that you surely will ovulate. It only lets you know that your hormone levels exist in higher concentrations. If you are trying to conceive and do get a positive test, it’s best to time lovemaking in that window.

If you use progesterone test strips and continuously get a negative result, you can explore the implications further with your healthcare provider. The bottom line is that most of these test results can be put aside if charting fertility signs. However, they can be useful tools to those who want to back up their observations.

If you'd like to learn more about FABM, including how to chart your cycle and identify your fertility window, download Tempdrop's free Introduction to Fertility Awareness, a beautifully-designed guide written by seven certified fertility educators.

I am Mikayla! My role as a Fertility Coach at Hope Healing Fertility is to help couples overcome infertility naturally, support healing for individuals transitioning off of hormonal birth control, and work together with families to create sustainable lifestyle changes. I use Fertility Awareness to take a deeper look into one’s health and love to see changes happening in real time, cycle by cycle.

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