What Is An Ovulation Test & Should You Be Using Them?
You Asked: “What is an ovulation test?”
An ovulation test or OPK (ovulation predictor kit) is an at-home conception aide that allows you to test your urine for a surge in the luteinizing hormone (LH).
An LH surge is the bodies way of signaling the egg to release. When you get a positive OPK it means that ovulation should occur in a day or two (24-36 hours). Think of ovulation tests as a heads-up, letting you know it’s time to DTD (do the deed) and start baby making.
Sounds easy and convenient right?
While it is one of the less complicated options for tracking ovulation it comes with a few pros and cons.
If you’re still feeling unsure about your cycle and when you should be DTD after you go over the info below a personalized step-by-step Baby Making Blueprint may be the answer for you!
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“What is an ovulation test?”: Advantages Of Using Ovulation Tests
- OPKs are very easy to use: There are two kinds of ovulation test kits available a mid-stream urine test and a dip-in-a-cup style test. The process is very similar to taking a home pregnancy tests. You wait the specified amount of time and read the results. Ovulation tests are also available in the form of digital tests most often a smiley face indicates a positive test.
- OPKs are reliable: When used correctly ovulation tests are 97% accurate. (1) (see cons for variables that affect accuracy)
- OPKs are convenient: Unlike CM (cervical mucus) and BBT (basal body temp) charting, that require a daily, long-term time investment OPKs give you more freedom. You only need to use ovulation tests around the middle of your cycle and can stop using them after a positive result.
- OPKs are cheap and can be bought online and in-store: You can purchase ovulation tests pretty much everywhere that has a pregnancy test isle: drugstores, supermarkets and even at the dollar tree. You can also get them online (my preferred method) it’s cheaper and you get more of a variety. To see my top picks for ovulation tests go here.
“What is an ovulation test?”: Disadvantages Of Using Ovulation Tests
- A positive OPKs does not guarantee ovulation: Although you have to produce the luteinizing hormone (LH) to ovulate, you don’t “have to” release an egg after. Ovulation tests are designed to measure your LH surge, but they do not actually confirm if you have ovulated. Conditions such as LUFS (luteinized unruptured follicle syndrome) and PCOS (Polycystic ovary syndrome) can trigger a positive LH surge but fail to release an egg. (2)
- OPKs can be hard to read. Unlike a pregnancy test, ovulation test strips pretty much always have two lines which confuse some people. An ovulation test is positive when and only when the test line is as dark as or darker than the control line, some people do not feel that they are able to get a clear reading. You can go digital but those tend to be more expensive, so either way, there’s a catch.
- OPKs accuracy starts to decline for women over 40. Unfortunately, age plays a roll in conception and OPKs start to lose their accuracy. As you get closer to menopause it is possible to have increased levels of LH in your system at all times. It is also possible for the opposite to happen making the surge almost impossible to catch.(3)
Should You Be Using Ovulation Tests To Track Ovulation?
Yes and no, remember TTC is not “one-size-fits-all”.
In most circumstances, ovulation tests are an accurate, easy way to catch your LH surge and in turn ovulation.
If you have any reason to suspect that they will not be accurate for you don’t waste your time and don’t fret you can still track ovulation. BBT (basal body temp) and CM (cervical mucus) charting are great secondary options.
In fact, most women combine OPKs with BBT or CM charting to get the most accurate data. While OPKs tell you when you’re getting ready to ovulation, BBT tells you the exact day you’ve ovulated and in some cases can even tell you when implantation occurs, but that is for a different post.
Give OPKs a try and see how they work for you!
Ready to get started with ovulation tests, but not sure when you should be testing? Click here to read about ovulation testing practices and how to create a routine.
Question answered: “What is an ovulation test?”
What are your thoughts on OPKs? Will you or are you using them?
1. Detection of ovulation, a review of currently available methods
Hsiu-Wei Su1* | Yu-Chiao Yi1* | Ting-Yen Wei2 | Ting-Chang Chang3 |Chao-Min Cheng4 Received: 13 December 2016 | Revised: 6 February 2017 | Accepted: 14 February 2017
2. Absence of secretory endometrium after false-positive home urine luteinizing hormone testing.
Peter G. McGovern, Evan R. Myers, Susan Silva, Christos Coutifaris, Sandra A. Carson, Richard S. Legro, William D. Schlaff, Bruce R. Carr, Michael P. Steinkampf, Linda C. Giudice, et al.
Fertil Steril. 2004 Nov; 82(5): 1273–1277. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2004.03.070
3. P.van Zonneveld, G.J. Scheffer, F.J.M. Broekmans, M.A. Blankenstein, F.H.de Jong, C.W.N. Looman, J.D.F. Habbema, E.R.te Velde; Do cycle disturbances explain the age‐related decline of female fertility? Cycle characteristics of women aged over 40 years compared with a reference population of young women, Human Reproduction, Volume 18, Issue 3, 1 March 2003, Pages 495–501, https://doi.org/10.1093/humrep/deg138