Tracking your fertility is important if you’re trying to get pregnant: if you don’t know when your fertile window is – those days when the average lifespan of sperm and egg can overlap, giving you the best chance of a successful conception – you’re robbing yourself of one of the most powerful advantages you could have!
There are lots of different options for finding out when you’re at your most fertile in each menstrual cycle, but they’re not all equally effective. You need to find the ovulation monitor that gets you accurate results to ensure you can schedule around your most fertile time in your cycle. Bad information means you might miss out on the chance to conceive.
Today we’re taking a look at Ovulation Predictor Kits: they’re widely available and relatively convenient to use, but do they work? Today we’re taking a look.
First of all, it’s important to understand how this kind of test works. Ovulation Predictor Kits (or OPKs) check for hormones in your urine: it’s similar to how pregnancy tests work, but in this case, the test is looking for a spike in LH: the Luteinising Hormone. This hormone, created in the pituitary gland, governs the process through which your ovaries mature an egg to be released for ovulation. When the egg is mature and ready to be released, a large surge in the levels of the hormone stimulate your ovaries to eject the egg into the fallopian tubes. It’s this surge, passing into your urine to leave your body, that the tests look for.
Some OPKs simply feature a test strip that reacts when the chemicals in your urine to show the results: if there’s a high level of LH, a line appears or the colour of the strip changes to indicate ovulation. Some more sophisticated tests require the test stick to be inserted into a device which can provide a more granular, and more objectively definite result.
While these tests are easy to use, they come with some significant drawbacks. Firstly, they can only tell you about ovulation after the fact – when the LH surge has already left your system and is being filtered out of your body. The majority of your fertile window (five out of six days) comes before you ovulate, so finding out after it’s happened leaves you at most 24 hours remaining.
Secondly, it’s possible to miss a positive result on your test by using it at the wrong time. There’s some debate over the best time to use an OPK: some say in the morning using the urine that has accumulated overnight, others believe you need to flush that from your system and wait for the afternoon for an accurate result. With this debate in progress, it’s hard to know what to do for the best, and in the meantime you could miss out on knowing when you’re fertile simply by using the test an hour late or early!
It’s hard, under these circumstances to recommend OPKs, and if you’re trying to find out when you stand the best chance of getting pregnant, it may be best to look elsewhere.