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How to use ovulation test kits?

Views:1553     Author:Site Editor     Publish Time: 2016-03-15      Origin:Site

You’ve probably spent much of your adult life avoiding getting pregnant. Yet now that you’re actively trying for a baby it may be taking a little longer than you’d hoped. Here’s how to pinpoint when you are ovulating.

What is ovulation?

Ovulation is the process that results in the release of one or more eggs from your ovary. Each month, between three and 30 eggs mature inside one of your ovaries . The largest is pushed out into the pelvic cavity and swept into the fallopian tube. 

Your egg only survives for between 12 hours and 24 hours if it is not fertilised. There’s only a small window each month during which you can conceive, typically no longer than about six days. This time leading up to ovulation is when you are most fertile (your fertile window).

It’s possible for sperm to survive inside you for up to about seven days. But the healthiest sperm, with the best ability to swim in a straight line (motility), result from your partner ejaculating every three days to four days – ideally, given that you’re trying for a baby, when you are having sex! 

Most conceptions result from having sex in the two days leading up to ovulation so to increase your chance of pregnancy, you need to ensure that you have sex at this time. An easy way to do this, is to try to have sex a couple of times a week throughout your cycle.

Can ovulation kits help?

Ovulation predictor kits (OPKs, also known as ovulation tests) can help you to identify your fertile window. But there is no evidence that using them will improve your chances of getting pregnant naturally. Regular sex throughout your cycle is the best way to maximise your chances of conception

However, you may prefer to schedule sex for your fertile period if:

  • You or your partner works away from home a lot, which makes regular sex difficult.

  • You and your partner have hectic schedules and already have children. Sex may not be a priority, and having sex every two days to three days may feel like just another chore.

  • You have an irregular cycle, which makes it more difficult to conceive.


There are a few ways to determine your fertile window. You could record your menstrual cycle, chart the monthly cycles of your basal body temperature, or study changes in your cervical mucus. Or you could try all three. 

However, it can be tricky to pinpoint ovulation using these methods, especially if your menstrual cycles are irregular. This is where ovulation predictor kits (OPKs) can help.

An OPK is a quick, easy, and accurate way to predict ovulation in advance. It allows you to pinpoint your fertile window from the very first month. Kits are available online, and at most chemists and supermarkets. You can usually find them in the same section as pregnancy tests.

How ovulation kits work?

Urine-based OPKs test your wee (urine) for an increase (surge) in luteinising hormone (LH). This happens one day to two days before ovulation

A small amount of LH is always present in wee. But in the one or two days before ovulation the amount of LH increases by about two times to five times, which triggers ovulation . Ovulation is the most fertile part of your cycle. This is when you are most likely to conceive.

Salivary ferning kits allow you to test your saliva with a pocket-sized portable microscope. As your oestrogen levels rise, the salt content of your saliva increases. When the salt dries, it crystallises into a fern-like pattern

In the two to three days leading up to ovulation, and for a couple of days afterwards, salivary ferning is visible so checking for this helps to identify your fertile window. When you are not in your fertile window, your saliva will dry in shapeless blobs .

How do I use an ovulation kit?

With the urine-based OPKs, you’ll either collect your wee in a cup or hold a stick under you as you wee. Coloured bands will appear on the test card or stick to indicate whether or not the LH surge is occurring. Digital OPKs use symbols, such as a smiley face, to tell you when you are on your most fertile days.

Instructions may vary slightly depending on which kit you use, but in general you should try to collect your wee between 10am and 8pm. The optimum time is supposed to fall between 2pm and 2.30pm.

Try to collect your wee at about the same time every day, though this is not absolutely necessary. Don’t test your wee as soon as you wake up, because you may miss the first day of your LH surge. Try to reduce the amount of liquids you drink for about four hours before you do the test. Too much liquid will dilute your wee, which could make it more difficult to detect the surge.

Read the results within 10 minutes. A positive result will not disappear, but some negative results may later display a faint second colour band. So throw the test card away once you’ve read the result.

Using a salivary ferning OPK is perhaps easier, as all you have to do is place some of your saliva on a slide by using your finger or licking it. Do this first thing in the morning, before you’ve had anything to eat or drink. Make sure you don’t put too much on and that it is free of any air bubbles. 

You then wait for the saliva to dry and then use the microscope to see whether there is any ferning or not. Compare your slide with examples in the instructions to see whether you’re in your fertile window.

With either type of OPK, it helps to work out when your fertile period is likely to start. It’s usually the length of your usual cycle minus 17 days. So, if you have a 28-day cycle, start testing on day 11 and carry on for six days. Use our ovulation calculator to help you work out when your fertile window is likely to be.

What else should I know?

Paracetamol and other common drugs don’t affect the tests. However drugs containing human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) or LH can affect the test results, and the fertility drug Clomid can also affect the results.

When used correctly, urine-based LH tests are about 99 per cent accurate at detecting the LH surge before ovulation. However, they're not foolproof and will also pick up any LH changes that are not linked to ovulation .

Salivary ferning tests aren’t as accurate as LH tests. Ferning may happen at other times in your menstrual cycle, particularly if you are taking Clomid. It may also be hard to judge if ferning has happened or not – if you have poor eyesight, salivary ferning kits may not be the best method for you.

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