For women who are actively trying to get pregnant, understanding the difference between the many ovulation tracking methods available for use can feel daunting and confusing. Between the number of tracking methods that are recommended, the supplementary tools that go with them, and the complicated nature of each woman’s reproductive system, it’s a challenge to determine which method of tracking is best for you.
Our staff sees this challenge firsthand when we discuss fertility difficulties with couples who need help conceiving. And we get a lot of questions about ovulation tracking! Today, we’re discussing just one subset of the ovulation questions we see every day – specifically, questions about ovulation monitoring kits and tests:
There is a bit of variety when it comes to predictor tests, which can make choosing that much more difficult. Most of these various ovulation home tests focus on detecting the luteinizing hormone (or LH) in the body, which is the chemical your body releases that triggers ovulation. These various tests are similar to pregnancy tests, in that they measure the chemicals in your urine. Additionally, most of these come at different price points, so your budget could very well be a deciding factor for you when choosing which ovulation monitoring tool to use. Here is a brief breakdown of the different kinds of tests and kits you can consider using:
- Ovulation strip tests – These disposable tests measure the amount of luteinizing hormone (LH) in your urine and display results on a cardboard stick with various colored bands. They look a lot like basic pregnancy tests and for the most part, come in larger packages of 30-100 that range from $7-25 in price.
- Digital ovulation tests – These tests also measure the LH in your urine and are disposable, but the results read out digitally and are typically easier to decipher. Tests come in packages of 10-20 that cost around $15-25.
- Fertility monitors – These systems can get really advanced. Some monitors only read the LH in urine like the disposable tests, but will also help to track your entire cycle. Others read the amount of estrogen in your saliva in addition to your LH levels! These can run you anywhere from $250-500, and some versions require you to purchase separate urine test strips.
It’s difficult to give a hard-set answer to this question. We can’t necessarily recommend just any ovulation predictor tests to anyone, particularly to women with irregular periods, or women who don’t typically monitor the build-up of their fertile-quality cervical mucus. Additionally, if you are not watching for the signs that you may begin to ovulate, then you could waste strips for up to two weeks waiting for it to start. Because of this, we suggest learning about the different stages of your cervical mucus so that you can be better prepared to take an ovulation predictor test without squandering more than one kit.
Yes and no. The purpose of the ovulation predictor test is to measure your body for the spike in LH that precedes ovulation. When these tests are used correctly, they can provide 99% accuracy in their predictions. However, keep in mind that when you read that positive result, it means your body is about to begin ovulation – and that you want to engage in intercourse with your partner soon to ensure that their sperm have a chance to reach your egg within 24 hours after it’s been released!
To make matters more confusing, there are certain instances in which women will emit a fake positive result in their ovulation predictor tests because their levels of luteinizing hormone surge prematurely. This is particularly common for women with polycystic ovarian syndrome, and can be very misleading because it could cause you and your partner to time intercourse too early.
No. Ovulation kits and apps measure two very different parts in your cycle. When you use the at-home kits, you’re measuring the hormones in your body to hopefully get as accurate of an estimate as possible on your specific ovulation dates. With most mobile apps, you’re typing in dates of your menstrual cycle in order to guess when your body might start to ovulate. The algorithms that the app uses can often provide a good calculation, but they can’t replace the potential precision of hormone detection.
With that said, some fertility monitors actually come with a downloadable app that you can use in conjunction with the physical monitoring. If you feel that these monitors are the right choice for you, than the app can serve as a handy tracking tool that you can keep on your person at all times.
While fertility kits have their benefits, even they are not foolproof. Because of this, it’s good to compare as many tracking methods and conception aids as you can before you use them, so that you and your partner can determine which ones suits your needs. And don’t forget – there are no silly questions when it comes to figuring out fertility! If you’re looking for more information, check back through some of our previous posts to see if we’ve already answered your question. Happy Tracking!