During your menstrual cycle, various hormone levels are high at different times depending on where you are in relation to ovulation day. Ovulation day is when an egg is released. If sperm is present when the egg is released, fertilization can occur. Ovulation predictor kits test for Luteinizing Hormone, a hormone that spikes up to a couple of days before ovulation and triggers the release of the most mature ovum (egg).
There are a couple of big drawbacks in depending on ovulation kits for timing intercourse to achieve pregnancy.
- There is a very small window of time to try for pregnancy (only a couple of days).
- The cost can add up when you need to test for a long time to catch that small window each month.
The reality is that you are actually fertile (sperm can live in you) for about 5 to 6 days up to ovulation day. You can know that you are fertile if you check your cervical mucus each day. It changes from sticky (infertile) to egg white (fertile) to signal when your body is approaching ovulation. Ovulation predictor kits only figure out the tail end of that time period.
For women who have long cycles or irregular cycles, it is hard to know when to make your investment in ovulation predictor kits count. If your cycles are very regular, I recommend starting to test using ovulation predictor kits 22 days BEFORE you expect to get your next period. If your cycles are very irregular or long, I highly recommend cross checking your cervical mucus, so you can start testing with an ovulation predictor kit when your mucus begins to transition to egg white quality. Checking your cervical mucus is part of Fertility Awareness Charting, a practice I highly recommend to every woman, whether you are trying to get pregnant or trying to avoid pregnancy. It helps you really get in tune with what's going on inside your body. I offer a free report to help you get started with Fertility Awareness Charting that I will mention at the end of this post.
Another option for women with especially long or irregular cycles is to use the 22-day recommendation above based on the shortest cycle length you have had in the last 6 months. You are keeping track of when you start your period, aren't you?? I hope so. You need this information in order to help you figure out when to start using ovulation predictor kits.
In general, whenever you start using ovulation predictor kits, keep testing until you get a positive result. If you are cross checking your cervical mucus, you should observe a change from fertile to infertile mucus within about 3 days of a positive ovulation test result.
For women with very long cycles, I recommend to keep testing beyond that point to make sure that your body is not attempting ovulation multiple times and failing to do so. Let's look at some used OPK results that I have to learn how to read them.
- Day A - This was a negative test - the test line is fainter than the control line. I did the test because I was producing fertile cervical mucus, which indicated that I was fertile and approaching ovulation.
- Day B - This was a positive test - the test line was as dark (or darker) than the control line. This means that Luteinizing Hormone was surging in my body, trying to trigger ovulation within a couple of days.
- Day C - This ovulation test was negative - the test line is fainter than the control line. Usually, I would recommend to stop testing here, but because I am still breastfeeding (which inhibits ovulation), I kept on testing because I know that sometimes my body unsuccessfully tries to ovulate at least once before actually doing it.
- Day D - I did not test because of the positive result I had on Day B. Usually this would be ovulation day for me, and usually my cervical mucus begins drying up on ovulation day, BUT I observed two very interesting things. 1. The ovulation pain I experience on my right side for a couple of days had now switched to the left. 2. My fertile mucus was not letting up. I was suspicious that my body was making an unsuccessful attempt at ovulation.
- Day E - This ovulation test was positive, again (!) - the test line was as dark (or darker) than the control line. My body was indeed trying again to ovulate. The pain on my left ovary was quite pronounced. My mucus was very thick and fertile again. I was to ovulate within 2 days of Day E.
Let's be clear that you do not ovulate more than one time during a cycle, BUT your body can try to ovulate multiple times if it is unsuccessful at it. This is what I am currently going through, as I mentioned, because I am breastfeeding. I hope you see why it helps to cross check ovulation predictor test results with other fertility signals, especially if you have irregular cycles or long cycles.
If you are interested in learning more about checking your fertility signals, please visit my website Most Fertile Days, to join my Bonded From Birth Email Club and receive a complimentary copy of my FREE report, Enlightened and Empowered through Fertility Awareness.