An ovulation test can help predict when you’re most likely to be fertile

Ovulation takes place in the middle of your menstrual cycle, which begins on the first day of your period.  Once your ovaries release an egg, it lives for about 12 to 24 hours.  However, sperm can live in your body for up to 5 days.  So even if you don’t have sex during this 24-hour ovulation window, you may still conceive if you’ve had sex a few days before.

With such a short window to conceive every month, using an ovulation test improves the guesswork of predicting your most fertile days.  Test results help you to know the best days to have sex for the best chance of conception and can increase your likelihood of getting pregnant.

How to test for ovulation

Ovulation tests detect levels of luteinizing hormone (LH) in your urine.  This hormone signals ovulation, or the release of an egg from your ovaries into the fallopian tube.

Ovulation test kits have two lines: One is the control line that signals the test is working properly while the other is the test line.  The test line appears lighter when you have a low level of LH in your body and it’ll appear darker when there’s a higher level of LH in your body.  This indicates that you’re more likely to conceive.

What day should you start testing for ovulation?

The best time to start testing ovulation is a few days before you’re scheduled to ovulate.  Ovulation occurs midway through your menstrual cycle, give or take a few days.

Your most fertile days of the month are 1 to 2 days before and after your ovaries release an egg.  Predicting ovulation is easier when you have a regular menstrual cycle.  With a 28-day cycle, you’ll likely ovulate on or around day 14, so you’ll want to start testing around day 10 or 11.

If you have a short cycle, you can assume that ovulation will most likely occur within 4 days of your cycle’s midpoint.  Thus, you should start using an ovulation test kit 4 to 6 days prior to your cycle’s midpoint.

Ovulation test kits are more accurate when you have a regular cycle because it’s easier to predict the midway point of your cycle.  Nonetheless, ovulation testing can still work if you have an irregular cycle.  You’ll just have to test more often.

While women with a regular cycle only need to test ovulation once a month, someone with an irregular cycle will have to test more frequently.  You’ll start testing a few days after your period and then once every week thereafter.

Even with an irregular cycle, you can look for the tell-tale signs of ovulation indicating that it’s time to start using a test kit.  You’ll need to pay attention to bodily changes like vaginal discharge and basal body temperature.  Start using an ovulation test kit if you notice any of these symptoms:

  • Increased cervical mucus, particularly discharge that feels slippery when wiping or has an egg-white-like consistency.
  • Increased basal body temperature.
  • An increase in your sex drive.
  • Light spotting.
  • Mild pelvic pain.

When is the best time of day to use an ovulation test?

There’s no wrong or right time of day to test ovulation.  Whatever time you choose, make sure to test at the same time each day.

Remember that liquid intake can dilute the amount of luteinizing hormone (LH) in your urine.  If this happens, it can appear as if you’re not ovulating when you are.  Therefore, limit your intake of fluids about 2 hours before testing.  It also helps not to urinate 1 to 2 hours before testing.  For these reasons it is recommended to do an ovulation test first thing when wake up.