Most of us spend the majority of our young womanhood avoiding our monthly cycle. But everything we ever knew about Aunt Flo and her monthly visit totally changes the second we start trying to conceive. All of a sudden, knowing when she’s due to arrive is paramount for predicting just when we’re most fertile. That’s because ovulation occurs approximately 12-14 days after your last period and before your next. This window of time that you can technically get pregnant, known as the ovulation window, is surprisingly short—lasting around 3-5 days on average.
Most women with regular cycles (a period occurring every 28 days, plus or minus seven days), can ballpark when they’re going to ovulate, but might miss their window, given its short, not always timely nature. That’s where ovulation tests and predictor kits come in handy. Often through a urine sample, they detect a hormone called LH, or luteinizing hormone, which surges at the peak of ovulation.
How do ovulation tests work?
“Every month, at the start of your cycle (counted as cycle day 1 from the first day of full flow), you have a group of resting ‘follicles’ in the ovaries, or tiny sacks of fluid that house a resting egg,” explains Anate Brauer, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist at the Greenwich Fertility and IVF Centers and assistant professor of OB/GYN at NYU School of Medicine. “If you have regular cycles, your brain kicks into gear and makes a hormone called FSH, Follicle Stimulating Hormone, which then stimulates one of these follicles to grow and the egg inside to mature.” As this follicle grows and the egg matures, it produces the hormone estrogen, which tells the brain to stop making FSH and start making a different hormone called LH, luteinizing hormone, AKA the marker ovulation kits look for in the urine.
What types of ovulation tests are available?
Tina Koopersmith, MD, REI, reproductive endocrinologist, gynecologist, fertility specialist and the founder of the West Coast Women’s Reproductive Center in Southern California, prefers the kits that show two lines rather than the newer more digitized versions. “The lines help us be more aware of the changes as they are happening,” she explains. “With these kits, a woman sees the subtle changes, while with digitized kits, she would just have days and days of high and no peak and the cycle might be missed or wasted.” Some women prefer the digital kits, which track and chart more information and can provide a more thorough and accurate picture of their cycle and ovulation trends.
Whether you’re trying for baby #1, #2, or #5, here are the best of the best ovulation kits to help you get pregnant ASAP.
For a fraction of the price of most digital ovulation predictor kits, you can score this top-rated (like almost 10,000 4.5-star reviews) one that allows you to do all the testing you want. The tests are easy to use (urine-based), easy to read (just make sure the test line is as dark or darker than the control line) and they provide you with a helpline to call should you run into any issues. The kit comes with 50 strips and you can connect to their Free Premom Ovulation Calculator app to cross check your ovulation pattern through the process.
While some old-school ovulation tests will have you simply pee on a stick and call it a day, Clearblue Connected Ovulation Test System goes the extra mile by showing instant results on their Clearblue® Connected app (it’s compatible with iPhone or Android via Bluetooth), which also reminds users of when they should test and keeps a record of all their results (important things like your last period, when you last had sex, etc.). It even sends you a reminder for when it is time to take a pregnancy test. Each kit comes with 25 tests and also provides you with access to a free helpline (1-800-321-3279) that you can call if you have any questions or concerns about the app or your results. Talk about making life simple.
From one of the one of the most popular and trusted pregnancy test brands comes an ovulation predictor kit that lets you predict your two most fertile days each month. This helps you pinpoint that teeny, tiny window (like 24-48 hour window) of time where you’re actually fertile enough to conceive. This helps—hugely. It does this by detecting the luteinizing hormone (LH) surge in your urine and translating the results into an easy-to-read format—either “YES+” or “NO+”—in just minutes. To save you another trip to the drugstore, this kit includes two pregnancy tests for when you’re ready to pee on that stick in two weeks time.
Utilizing urine progesterone test strips, Proov rapid response gives women the 411 on their monthly cycles. While other ovulation tests only measure hormones in the first half of the menstrual cycle that are predictive of ovulation (LH, FSH, and estrogen), Proov tests provide a more complete and accurate picture of what’s going on by including the measurement of progesterone, a hormone critical to conception and pregnancy. It’s also the only hormone used by fertility docs to confirm that ovulation as, in fact, occurred. Now you can test in the comfort of your own home with 99 percent accuracy via an FDA-cleared test.
If you’re hoping to track your ovulation for the long haul—i.e. several months to a year—this is the kit for you. It contains 40 ovulation test strips along with 10 early-detection pregnancy test strips. These FDA-approved test strip duo (includes both ovulation and pregnancy tests), are the same ones tests used in most clinics and doctors’ offices made by fertility market giant Fairhaven Health. The tests are pretty self explanatory—simply dip the strip into urine (be it a cup or stream) for 5 seconds, lay the test on a flat surface and check the results in as little as 10 minutes.
Pregmate works like pretty much every other ovulation test—by detecting the amount of luteinizing hormone in your body. Once it hits a surge, it means you’ll likely be ovulating some 24 to 48 hours later. What’s different—and great—about this ovulation predictor kit is its ease of use (and user-friendly packaging). The process is simple—use the chart that the test provides to determine when you should start testing based on your menstrual cycle. Pee on one of the strips that the kit provides for 3 seconds and then wait and see your results. If you spot two color bands, and the test band is as dark or darker than the control, it’s time to get busy!
This ovulation test is unique in the sense that it uses samples from your actual saliva instead of your urine to determine your most fertile days. That means you don’t have to sit there with pee on your hand post-test. It features a special telescope with an LED light that tracks ovulation via a fern-like pattern. Saliva testing is relatively new to the U.S., but has proved to be promising and relatively easy compared to other types of testing. A big plug is its reusability: Users have the freedom to test multiple times, and countless days in a row, giving them a clearer picture of their cycle’s progression.
There are no hidden tricks involved when it comes to how this ovulation test works. It’s the same paper strip that you pee on, but it reveals your results in 5 minutes or less compared to the 10 it takes for some competitors. Like the rest, the test line simply has to be darker than the control line and, if so, it signals that you’re ovulating in the next 24 to 48 hours. Pretty simple and basic, which is why it’s nice to score enough strips (50) for just $15 so you can test your cycle year-round (and likely longer).
Don’t forget to stock up on these pregnancy essentials that’ll come in handy during those nine months and beyond.