Timing, as they say, is everything -- especially when it comes to getting pregnant. Over-the-counter ovulation predictor kits can help you pinpoint your most fertile days, thereby improving your chances of conception. The kits require a few simple steps, but you will need to do some advance planning to get the most reliable results.
Just like an at-home pregnancy test, ovulation tests require you
to either urinate on a test stick or dip it into a sterile cup of urine for
several seconds. The results show up in a few minutes. The kits detect the
level of luteinizing hormone (LH) in your urine. LH is always there, but it
increases right before ovulation. In most women, the LH surge triggers
ovulation. Once the kit detects your surge, you can expect to ovulate within
the next 24 to 48 hours. According to the American Pregnancy Association, most
over-the-counter kits are 99 percent accurate if used correctly.
When to Test
If you have an irregular cycle, start testing soon after your period
ends. Most manufacturers of ovulation kits say your individual cycle determines
the best starting day for you. If you have a 28-day cycle, for instance, you’ll
typically start the test around day 11. Unlike at-home pregnancy tests, it is
not necessary to use your first morning urine. For the most accurate results,
cut out any liquids about four hours before the test and do it at the same time
Which Test is Best
Most ovulation kits come with five to seven test sticks, but
some have 20 for daily tests. This is especially helpful if you have a variable
cycle. Standard economical tests, which cost around $12 to $20, require you to
compare the intensity of colored bands to get the result. These tests can be
difficult to read, however, particularly if your LH surge is weak. Digital
tests are usually double the cost of the standard versions, but they use images
or words to tell you if you're about to ovulate.
If you don't become pregnant after a few months of detecting a
surge, it may be time to see an infertility specialist. How long you use an
ovulation predictor kit depends upon your age. According to the Mayo Clinic, if
you're in your early 30s or younger, you can try for up to a year on your own
before consulting your doctor. If you're over 35, you should wait no longer
than six months. Consult your physician for advice.