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How to Use an Ovulation Predictor Test

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.

RELATED: How to Use Ovulation Tests

How They Work

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 every day.

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.

RELATED: Detecting Ovulation

When to Call for Backup

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.

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