Why I took ovulation tests while not trying to get pregnant

Why I took ovulation tests while not trying to get pregnant

Welcome to my ovulation test diary! What’s an ovulation test diary, you ask? It’s an intimate look into seven days of my life as I attempt to pin down when I ovulate and what that means for my body. Before we get started, here’s a bit about me.

My name’s Jamie and I’m the co-founder here at Stix. At Stix, our mission is to arm women with the products, education, and community they need to manage their health decisions. We’re starting with discreet, accurate pregnancy tests and ovulation tests

I decided to embark on this ovulation testing journey because I wasn’t even sure if I ovulate!

I have the Mirena IUD, the hormone-releasing IUD that lasts for five years. Ever since I got my IUD four years ago, my periods have been shorter, lighter, and less frequent. Was I even ovulating? My period tracking app told me I was, but I didn’t have the proof. I was determined to find out.

What are ovulation tests? How do ovulation tests work?

Alright, let’s take a step back and talk about what ovulation tests do... 

Ovulation tests are used to detect levels of the Luteinizing Hormone (LH) in your urine. The LH hormone comes from your brain and tells your ovaries to release an egg. In simpler terms, you’re most fertile when you’re ovulating. 

Ovulation tests look and work similar to a pregnancy test. They are little sticks you pee on and then they work hard to detect levels of hormones in your urine. Cool, right?

Why do I even care if I ovulate? I’m not trying to get pregnant.

I know! I’ve wondered this same thing before. So, why do I care about this monthly egg drop if I’m not trying for a baby? There are so many reasons. Let’s list some of them out.

  1. I’ve heard horror stories of IUD pregnancies. No form of birth control is 100% effective. Using a second method of birth control when I ovulate is something I’ve always wanted to do. You can never be too safe, after all!
  2. Ovulation affects your mood and energy levels. Your estrogen levels peak during ovulation. If you’ve ever wondered why sometimes your sex drive is though the roof, it might be because you’re ovulating! It’s like your ovaries are begging for a baby.
  3. Your vaginal discharge increases and changes to start resembling egg whites. 
  4. Your menstrual cycle is a window into your general health! Irregularities can give insight into hormonal imbalances and various health conditions.
  5. Ovulation can even cause changes to your physical appearance. According to OBGYNs, you’re even more likely to blush and pay attention to your appearance when your body hits peak fertility. Isn’t that wild?

Plus, no time like the present! Now’s as good a time as any to learn all about my body. 

Interesting, right? If you want to learn more about your menstrual cycle and its different phases, this article sums it up well.

Now for the fun part. Let’s see if I actually ovulate.

According to my period tracking app, Flo, I have a standard 28 day cycle.

According to this chart, my menstrual cycle started on May 11. I then bled, AKA the red days, until the 15th. The blue days show my “fertile window,” this means I could be ovulating on any of those days! Flo predicts it will be the 24th of May.

How do you calculate when ovulation is likely?

My Flo app is how I decided what date to start taking the ovulation tests. You can, of course, count the number of days on your own. It’s super easy! Basically, you need to pin down the length of your menstrual cycle (days from the first day of your last period to your next). Then, you count from there. This handy Stix chart shows how:

ovulation tracker app

Day 1, 5/22/20, 11 days since my last period started

how to track ovulation

I started testing 11 days after my last period to be safe. According to the chart, my peak ovulation should be 14 days after my last period. Not every woman falls in this traditional cycle, though. Like our personalities, everyone’s menstrual cycle is unique! I’ve heard it can take a while to pin down
exactly when you ovulate. This is why I like that the Stix ovulation tests come in packs of seven. I felt I had some buffer room to test continuously.

I decided to take the test at 11 am today, as I’ve heard from OBGYNs that the LH hormone peaks mid-day. I also felt it had been long enough since my morning coffee -- liquids can dilute your urine and disrupt your test results! I took the test, waited 10 minutes, and when I checked on it I saw a dark control line and a super faint test line. This means that I’m nearing my ovulation date! This also means that my follicular phase is at its end. 

I was excited to see some kind of line in the test window. I wonder if tomorrow will show a darker line? 

Day 2, 5/23/20, 12 days since my last period started

 best way to track ovulation

It’s the second day of my ovulation experiment! I’m already learning things. Because I know I’m officially close to my ovulation day, my partner and I used an additional layer of protection during sex. It felt great to know I’m being as safe as possible, like I can take charge of my own body in a new way! I definitely feel energetic today. Whether it’s because of the long weekend and nice weather or my ovulation day approaching… who’s to say.

Anyway, back to the test. I took today’s test right around 11 am, the same time as yesterday. To keep things as consistent as possible, Stix recommends testing around the same time every day. Of course, there are variables, like today I woke up later and drank my morning coffee later.

Today’s test showed a much darker test line. As you can see in the photo, the test line is just as dark as the control line. Based on the line’s progression from yesterday to today, it seems like tomorrow or the next day will be my peak ovulation day -- meaning I ovulate within the next 24-36 hours! 

Day 3, 5/24/20, 13 days since my last period started

track my ovulation

I took the test a bit later in the day today. Honestly, I forgot until about 4pm! From the photo, you can see this didn’t mess with my results. You can also see that my test line is still showing but it’s lighter than the control line. This means that my ovulation test peaked yesterday!  I must be ovulating today or tomorrow -- as the test shows the darkest line 24-36 hours before ovulation. 

I wonder how much longer the test line will show up as a faint line! This means that the levels of LH are lower in my body now. Overall, I’ve learned a ton about my body through this diary, and I’m only on day three.

I’ve been familiar with the different phases of menstruation for some time now, but they just really clicked once I started taking these tests. I’ve always known that ovulation occurred, but I never knew if it happened to me or not (because of my birth control, the IUD). 

Day 4, 5/25/20, 14 days since my last period started

how to track your ovulation

I’m totally nerding out over the progression of this test line! It’s much more faint today. I feel like tomorrow it will be gone, meaning my ovulation phase is nearing its end. This also means that I’m approaching the much dreaded
luteal phase. The luteal phase is when PMS typically occurs. I tend to get super moody the week before my period starts. Every month, I wonder why I’m feeling all over the place and then I look at a calendar and *boom* I’m about a week away from my period starting. You’d think after decades of this going on in my body I’d be better at realizing what’s going on! Anyone else have this problem?

Now that I’m four days into my experience and I’ve reached “peak ovulation,” here are some realizations... I’ve woken up with a lot of energy the past few days. I’ve definitely been cuddlier and more in the mood for physical touch. My mood isn’t fluctuating much this week, I feel steady and solid. No complaints in this department!

Day 5, 5/26/20, 15 days since my last period started

 ovulation cycle tracker

According to my Flo app, today is the last day of my ovulation phase, AKA my last chance “to get pregnant.”  I take somewhat of an issue with the wording on these apps. I know they do wonders for women who are trying to conceive (TTC). However, what about the women who aren’t trying? I look at my ovulation phase now as a chance to
avoid pregnancy. To me, ovulation signifies the part of my cycle where I should be extra careful and cautious with sex and birth control. I know I want kids eventually, and knowing my ovulation window so intimately will help when that time comes, too. Just some ramblings!

Anyway, back to my test for the day. The test line is definitely getting lighter and lighter as the days go on. It’s hard to see the faint line, but if you squint it’s definitely there. I assume this means I’m still in the “fertile window,” but it’s nearing its end!

Day 6, 5/27/20, 16 days since my last period started

how do you track ovulation

Day six of my ovulation test challenge and here to report that my test line is getting lighter and lighter each day. I tested first thing in the morning today, just to see how it would affect my results. The lines are a *bit* lighter than when I test midday, so now I’d recommend testing midday if you decide to start tracking your ovulation.

Tomorrow is my last day of this experiment and I’m happy to report that I do, in fact, ovulate! Hormonal birth control can affect your fertility in lots of different ways. Not everyone with the hormonal IUD still ovulates. Now that I know for sure that I’m ovulating, I feel much more empowered to better plan and be more careful with sex.

Day 7, 5/28/20, 17 days since my last period started

 how to track ovulation cycle

Alas, my test line has disappeared! Here comes the luteal phase. I’ve been researching why my PMS can fluctuate so much and
this article really helped me understand

Overall, I’ve learned a lot this week. It’s wild to think that every month my body goes through this cycle and I’m just now learning how it *really* works. Does anyone else feel the same way? I definitely encourage you to start learning about your cycle, from beginning to end. Testing for ovulation is one way to get started.  Who’s with me? 

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