What to Know to Successfully use Ovulation Predictor Kits
A common question I get asked in the clinic is if my client can show me photos of their LH strips to confirm ovulation or if they are even using them correctly. So, I put together some tips to help you successfully use ovulation predictor kits.
Firstly, What is an OPK or LH Test?
OPK's or Ovulation Predictor Kits are at-home tests that help you determine when you will ovulate by detecting a hormone called luteinizing hormone (LH). LH is the hormone released by the brain that triggers ovulation. A rise in luteinizing hormone signals your ovaries to release an egg, resulting in ovulation to typically occur 12-48 hours later. OPKs are most commonly used when trying to conceive.
How Do I Use an Ovulation Test?
OPK's are urine strips you start in the first half of your cycle. Kind of like a pregnancy test but instead of testing for the HCG hormone, you are testing for LH. If the test line appears darker then the control line, you may likely be ovulating within the next 12-48 hours. However, we always have a low level of LH circulating through our bodies, so it is normal to see a faint line appear before your fertile window. You are looking for a surge, so you want it darker then the control line. Using an app such as Premom or Modern Fertility allows you to take photos of your strips to compare the colour change, as you will be testing a few days before expected ovulation. Using a digital reader can also be helpful in determining your LH surge.
When Is The Best Time to Test?
LH is typically released in the morning, therefore, the ideal time to test for LH in your urine is between 11am and 5pm. This allows your body enough time to release the hormone into your urine. Sometimes I recommend testing twice in a day, such as between 11am-1pm and 3pm-7pm to make sure you don't miss your surge.
The best day to start testing is shown to be day 7 of your cycle. As a reminder, day 1 of your cycle is the first day of bleeding; spotting before your period does not count and you must wait for an actual flow to begin counting day 1 of your period. If you have an irregular cycle, this can be a little difficult to know when to start testing. Other methods of predicting or confirming ovulation are usually combined with irregular cycles.
When Should I Have Intercourse?
When you see an LH surge, have intercourse that day if you are able to! This means LH has most likely triggered your ovary to release an egg and you are officially in your fertile window. Your two most fertile days of the month are the day of your LH surge and the day after.
How Accurate are OPKs?
Ovulation Predicator Kits only tell you whether your body is releasing LH. They don't actually tell you whether you are going to ovulate (hence "predictor" in the name). Therefore I always recommend using a combination of methods to track ovulation, which I discuss with you during your acupuncture sessions. Here are some things to consider when using LH tests:
- PCOS: Women with PCOS have multiple surges of LH throughout the month but may not even be ovulating. If you have PCOS, we may have to explore different options for you to predict ovulation.
- Medications: If you are taking fertility drugs, hormonal birth control, or other medications, this may alter your LH test results.
- Irregular Cycles: This can be difficult because you may not know exactly when in your cycle to start using the strips.
Trying to conceive can be a really exciting time for couples! However, trying to time the perfect day to try can be quite stressful too. If you're trying to conceive or have more questions about how to successfully use ovulation predictor kits and or boost your natural fertility, book a free discovery call today to see how acupuncture can help you optimize your health and fertility. See our Fertility and Acupuncture page for more information.