Using an ovulation test can be a game changer when you’re trying to conceive. But only if you time it right.
So, when is the best time to take an ovulation test?
Should you start testing right after your period? Is it better to test in the morning or evening? And should you test ovulation twice a day or is once enough?
Don’t worry. We’re here to answer all those burning questions (and more). Read on to get all the nitty gritty details on when to take ovulation tests to up your chances of getting pregnant.
But before we dive into that, let’s review how these tests work and how they help with conception.
How Do Ovulation Tests Work?
Ovulation tests, also known as ovulation predictor kits or OPKs, measure how much luteinizing hormone (LH) is in your urine.
So, why LH?
Well, because LH is the fertility hormone that helps kick start ovulation. It tends to be low during most of your menstrual cycle.
But around 24-36 hours before ovulation, LH rises. This triggers your ovary to release an egg into your fallopian tube, where it may (fingers crossed) meet up with a sperm.
Are All Ovulation Tests the Same?
Not at all. Some tests are analog, while others are digital.
Analog tests are similar to pregnancy tests, with two lines: a control line and a test line. The control line is always there as a reference point. The test line is what gives you your results.
A positive ovulation test is when the test line appears the same shade as the control line or even darker. The darker your test line is, the more LH was detected.
Learn More: What’s a Faint Line on an Ovulation Test Mean?
With analog tests, there’s a lot of room for interpretation, which can be frustrating. That’s why many prefer digital tests.
Digital tests are much easier to read. They give you a plus sign or happy face for a positive result, so there’s no confusion.
Learn More: How to Read a Positive Ovulation Test
Another thing worth mentioning is that many OPKs base their results on thresholds rather than hormone values. If your LH reaches that threshold, you get a positive result.
This works fine for people with average hormone levels. But it doesn’t work well if your hormone levels fall outside the norm. Women with PCOS in particular, can often get false positives on threshold-based tests since their LH levels are higher than usual.
If your LH levels are lower than the average values, then you may get a false-negative result.
So if you want a clear look at your hormone levels, choose a digital test that measures the actual hormone values.
How Do Ovulation Tests Help You Get Pregnant?
Your fertile window, or the time you’re most likely to get pregnant, lasts about six days.
It consists of the four days before you ovulate, your ovulation day, and the day after you ovulate.
Why six days? Well, an egg can only survive around 24 hours, but sperm can survive up to 5 days.
So if you’re trying to conceive, it’s crucial to get the timing right. Using an ovulation test can help you know when to have sex so that sperm is there to greet the egg.
You can get pregnant at any point during your fertile window. But research shows you have the best chance of getting pregnant the day before ovulation.
And this is exactly when the LH surge goes into motion.
Once you get a positive ovulation test – it means your LH is rising and it’s go time! You’ll want to have sex that day and the next 2-3 days after for the best chance at conception.
But how would you know when to start testing? Read on to understand the best time to take an ovulation test.
What Day During My Cycle Should I Start Ovulation Testing?
It will depend on your cycle. But a good rule of thumb is to start testing around 17 days before your next period.
Why then? Well, ovulation usually happens around 12-14 days before your next period.
So let’s say you have a 30-day cycle. That means you’d ovulate sometime between days 16-18.
But you’d need to start testing a few days before (around day 13) to detect the surge.
Another helpful tool for detecting the surge is estrogen, which some OPKs also measure.
Estrogen rises about five days before your LH spikes. When your estrogen climbs, ovulation may be on its way – so prepare to get busy!
Remember, you’re fertile for four days before you ovulate. So, if you’re serious about getting pregnant, there’s no need to wait for that LH surge to start having sex.
What’s the Best Time of Day to Take an Ovulation Test?
But ofcourse it’s your first-morning urine. Here’s why…
Typically, LH surges in your blood between midnight and early morning (around 8 am).
And now for the other question that’s likely popping into your head…
How often should I take an ovulation test?
Twice a day is best.
Around 43% of women have rapid LH surges, meaning they happen within a day. So if you’re only testing once a day and have a short surge – you could miss it.
So ideally, test twice a day: once in the morning and once in the evening.
Other helpful pointers for the best accuracy:
- Don’t drink too much for a couple of hours before you test. Otherwise, the LH in your urine may be too diluted to yield a positive result.
- Try not to pee for an hour or two before testing. That way, your urine will be more concentrated.
- If possible, stick to a regular testing schedule.
When Should I Start Testing If I Have Irregular Cycles?
Ovulation testing with irregular cycles is tricky. After all, you don’t want to test too early – or too late.
So to avoid missing your fertile window, it’s best to err on the safe side.
If you’re prone to unpredictable cycles, base your testing on the shortest cycle length you’ve had in the past six months.
That way, you’ll be less likely to miss your fertile days.
Do Multiple Positive Results Mean I Ovulated More Than Once?
Multiple ovulation (also known as hyperovulation) can happen. Fraternal twins are living proof of that.
Hyperovulation is when both ovaries release an egg, or one ovary releases more than one egg. And believe it or not, hyperovulation is more common than you might think.
One study monitored ovulation for 507 women using ultrasounds over 1 to 3 cycles. They found that 21% of women had hyperovulation for at least one cycle.
But getting more than one positive ovulation test does NOT mean you ovulated more than once in the cycle.
If you keep getting positive results over several days, your LH surge pattern is the more likely culprit.
Around 57% of women have LH surges that last between 2-6 days. If you’re one of them, you’ll get positive ovulation tests throughout the length of your surge.
Is it Possible to Get a False Positive on an Ovulation Test?
Yes. Ovulation predictor kits are amazing for predicting ovulation – but they don’t confirm it.
But don’t worry – there are ways to confirm ovulation. More on that soon…
Here are a few reasons you might get a false positive on an ovulation test:
- Women with PCOS often have high LH levels throughout their menstrual cycle. So if you have PCOS, you may get a positive result on the ovulation test, even if ovulation never occurred.
- Certain fertility medications aim to induce ovulation, which can lead to false positives.
- Some women have Luteinized Unruptured Follicle Syndrome (LUF), a condition where the follicle fails to open, and no egg is released. This is called anovulation, and it’s the leading cause of infertility.
- Anovulation can happen even if you don’t have a health condition. One study tested LH in healthy women and found that up to 18% had anovulatory cycles, even when a surge was detected.
- During menopause, hormonal changes cause LH to rise and remain high.
- Some OPKs measure alpha LH, an LH subunit identical to Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). This similarity can cause the test to cross react, leaving you with inaccurate results. You can reduce chances of cross reactivity by choosing a test that measures beta LH instead (such as Inito).
So How Can I Tell I Really Ovulated?
There are a few different ways. Getting a vaginal ultrasound is the most accurate way to confirm ovulation. The trouble is, ultrasounds can be expensive, invasive, and inconvenient.
That’s why many people opt for DIY methods of tracking ovulation.
One method is to keep track of your basal body temperature (BBT). This is your temperature when your body is at rest.
Your BBT rises after you ovulate, so recording it daily can offer clues about whether you ovulated. If you choose this method, be sure to record your BBT first thing in the morning.
While BBT is helpful, it’s not foolproof. Luckily, there is a clear-cut way to confirm ovulation occurred: progesterone.
Progesterone metabolite PdG rises after you ovulate, gearing your body up to support a possible pregnancy. So it’s PdG – not LH – that confirms ovulation.
The Inito fertility monitor is the only OPK that measures FSH, estrogen, LH, and progesterone metabolite PdG. This combo not only predicts your peak fertility, it confirms ovulation really happened.
And unlike many OPKs that base your results on thresholds, Inito measures your actual hormone values.
Inito also comes with a handy app. You get access to personalized hormone charts and can even set auto-reminders when it’s time to test. That way, you never miss a moment of your fertile window.
Summing it Up
- Ovulation tests measure luteinizing hormone (LH), which rises 24-36 hours before ovulation.
- The best time to take an ovulation test is about 17 days before your next period.
- LH usually surges in your blood between midnight and 8 am.
- It’s best to take an ovulation test twice a day to avoid missing the surge.
- Choose an ovulation predictor kit that measures progesterone to confirm ovulation occurred.