With so many factors affecting fertility, the timeline for getting pregnant is often hard to predict. It could take months to conceive, or it might happen as soon as the thought of having a baby enters your mind.
According to the Mayo Clinic, most healthy couples conceive within one year if they have frequent unprotected sex. To speed the process up, you need to make sure you’re having sex on the five to six days of your cycle that you’re actually fertile — and that’s where ovulation tests come in.
The ABCs of OPKs
Also known as ovulation predictor kits (OPKS), ovulation tests work by detecting the surge in luteinizing hormone (LH) that occurs in your body approximately 36 hours before ovulation. This spike in LH indicates that a mature egg is about to make its way down your fallopian tube, where it will be ready for fertilization.
This period is known as your fertile window and includes the five days leading up to ovulation as well as the day of ovulation itself. Ovulation tests identify when you’ve reached this critical window so you can concentrate your baby-making efforts when it counts. When used correctly, ovulation tests, like these budget-friendly options from Pregmate, are more than 99% accurate.
How do they work?
There are several different types of tests, but they all involve peeing on a stick. Paper test strips are the most basic — and often cheapest — option. You pee in a cup, dip the strip, then lay the test flat and wait about five minutes for your results.
Most OPK results show up as one or two lines. One line is the control line, which lets you know that the test is working. The second line is the test line. If the test line is as dark or darker than the control line, you’ll know that LH is surging, and ovulation may occur in the next few days.
Midstream tests usually have a plastic exterior with a removable cap. They allow you to insert the test strip directly into your urine flow, rather than using a cup (although you can dip these tests as well). Digital tests function like midstream tests but give you a clear “yes” or “no” answer instead of those little lines.
While there are pros and cons to each type of test, it’s important to note that all three types can be equally accurate. The main thing you’ll need to decide is whether it’s worth paying more for the added convenience of midstream testing or digital results. While brand name digital tests can cost several dollars each, test strips offer a much more economical option — Pregmate’s test strips cost as little as 19 cents apiece.
How to begin
Since ovulation usually occurs around day 14 of your cycle, you’ll want to take your first ovulation test around day 10 or 11. It helps if you already have a sense of your typical cycle, so if you’re not tracking it already, now is a great time to start.
Getting the hang of when to test may require a little trial and error, especially if you have an irregular cycle. It’s not uncommon to use five to ten strips per month. With Pregmate, you can stock up on strips without breaking the bank. And with their wallet-friendly combo pack, you’ll also have pregnancy tests on hand when the time comes.
Keep testing until you get a positive result. Then it’s time to get busy making a baby for the next couple of days!
If you’re hoping to become pregnant, ovulation tests can speed things up by helping you identify when your body is capable of conception. More sex during your fertile window means more chances of getting pregnant, so it’s worth getting clear on exactly when you’re ovulating.
To look at it another way, the average person has about a 40% chance of conceiving on the day before ovulation — the most fertile day of your cycle. The likelihood of conceiving outside your fertile window? Zero.
Just keep in mind, while OPKs can tell you when your body is preparing to ovulate, they don’t confirm that ovulation has actually happened. If you’re under 35 and have been trying for more than a year, or over 35 and trying for more than six months, it may be time to seek help from your healthcare provider or a fertility specialist.
Test to your heart’s content
When you’re TTC, the costs of pregnancy and ovulation tests can add up. But with Pregmate, you can stock up on test strips for as little as 19 cents each. Their tests are over 99% accurate, easy to use, and include affordable midstream and digital options. And, incredibly, you can save an additional 25% on your purchase using code OVIA25.
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- “New Ovia research finds mobile-based data is as accurate as data collected by traditional clinical methodologies.” Ovia Health. Ovia Health. August 1, 2019. https://wp-59.oviahealth.com/blog/2019-08-01-new-ovia-research-finds-mobile-based-data-is-as-accurate-as-data-collected-by-traditional-clinical-methodologies
- Mayo Clinic Staff. “Getting Pregnant” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic. October 5, 2019. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/getting-pregnant/in-depth/how-to-get-pregnant/art-20047611