How to use an ovulation test: A complete guide
If you're taking an ovulation test for the first time or just want more info on ovulation testing, here's our comprehensive guide to using ovulation tests.
You might be wondering why you'd even use an ovulation test. These tests are helpful in quickly finding out when you ovulate aka when you're most fertile and most likely to get pregnant.
How do ovulation tests work?
A day or two before you ovulate, your body’s luteinizing hormone (LH) level surges — that’s your brain telling your ovaries to release an egg. Ovulation usually occurs around 14 days before your next period starts, so your ovulation window is different depending on the length of your menstrual cycle (most often between 21 and 35 days). Our ovulation tests detect the level of LH in your urine.
Keep in mind that an LH surge doesn’t always mean that ovulation will occur or that you will get pregnant. LH levels can fluctuate daily, and an LH surge and/or ovulation may not occur in all cycles.
Don’t take this test to prevent pregnancy without any other methods of contraception. If you’re trying to get pregnant, talk to your doctor to be sure you’re getting the right prenatal care.
Common questions about ovulation
If you have questions about ovulation, you're not alone. Here's a quick roundup of your most asked questions about ovulation testing.
What is my fertile window? When should I plan sex if I'm trying to conceive?
You don’t have to have sex on the exact day of ovulation to get pregnant. You’re most fertile on the day of your LH surge and the day after, leading up to ovulation. Once the egg is released it has 24-48 hours to be fertilized.
If you experience two LH surges or one long LH surge during your cycle, use your first sign of an LH surge to determine your fertile window.
What if my period is irregular?
Don’t sweat it! Think back to the first day of your last period and go from there. You can also monitor for vaginal discharge that looks and feels like raw egg whites. If you’re not sure, try testing regularly for a month to understand your cycle.
Can I use an ovulation test while taking birth control?
You won’t be able to track ovulation if you are actively taking hormonal birth control like the pill. Talk to your doctor about how your birth control may be affecting ovulation.
Once I’ve stopped taking birth control, when can I start testing?
You can start testing right away. It is safe to get pregnant right after you use birth control, but with some hormonal methods, it can take a few months for your cycle to return to normal.
I’m taking medication. Will that affect my results?
It can. If you are already pregnant, were recently pregnant, are menopausal, have PCOS, or if you’re taking hormones, your test results may not be accurate. Talk to your doctor if you think your results are inaccurate.
I think I might be pregnant already. What should I do?
An ovulation test will not tell you if you are pregnant. Instead, take a Stix pregnancy test and call your doctor for next steps if you get a positive result.
I've taken a lot of ovulation tests and am still not pregnant. What should I do?
It takes six months (on average) to become pregnant. If you have concerns, don't hesitate to talk to your doctor.
When to take an ovulation test
First, figure out your usual cycle length. This is the number of days from the first day of your last period to the first day of your next period. Period tracking apps are a great way to keep track.
Use this chart below to determine the best day to start testing based on the length of your cycle. For example, if your cycle is usually 28 days long, you should start testing 12 days after the start of your last period.
It’s best to test between 10am-8pm. Whenever you decide to test, avoid drinking a lot of fluids beforehand, which can dilute your urine. The test measures the hormonal surge that predicts ovulation within 24-48 hours, so you can take several tests a month to more accurately pinpoint your fertile window.
How to take an ovulation test
Step 1: Open the foil wrapper and remove the test’s plastic cap.
Step 2: Sit on the toilet, hold the thumb grip, and place the absorbent tip in your urine stream for 10 seconds. (Make sure the results window is facing up!) If it’s easier for you, dip the absorbent tip in a small cup of urine for 10 seconds instead.
Step 3: Put the cap back on and lay the test on a flat, non-absorbent surface with the results window facing up.
Step 4: Wait 5 minutes before reading the results. For accuracy, do not read after 10 minutes have passed.
How to read ovulation test results
Hold the test so the (T) Test window is on the left and the (C) Control window is on the right. The control line confirms the test worked, and the test line measures your LH level.
If the test line is dark
An LH surge is detected. Ovulation should occur in 24-48 hours if you see both the test and control line and if the test line is darker or equal to the control line.
If there's no test line or the test line is faint
No LH surge is detected if you only see the control line, or if the test line is lighter than the control line. Continue testing each day — the line may get darker in the days leading up to your LH surge.
If there's no control line
If you don’t see a control line, the test is invalid (even if there’s a line in the test window). Try taking another test.
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