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Are you just starting out on your journey with tracking ovulation? If so, you’re most likely feeling COMPLETELY overwhelmed–and for good reason! Tracking your ovulation can be confusing as hell.
If you’re just starting out, you probably have A LOT of questions about how to use ovulation test strips, what they reveal about your fertility journey, and when, exactly, you should start having sex.
While there are many great ovulation tracker apps worth considering that can be helpful in these situations, some people prefer to not combine technology with reproductive health.
I, for one, had a hard time trusting that an app on my cell phone could accurately tell what was going on inside my body.
For people like me who prefer physical proof that they are or aren’t currently ovulating, ovulation test strips are a great option.
At-home ovulation tests provide accurate results, are easy to use, and help you determine when you’ll have the best chance of conceiving a baby…all without the use of an app.
If you’re searching for the best ways to track ovulation, ovulation test strips are a great start! If you want a more comprehensive view of your cycle, consider tracking basal body temperature or using a fertility tracker.
What are the Benefits of Ovulation Test Strips?
Ovulation test strips are urine-based tests that measure the amount of luteinizing hormone (LH) in your system. LH is a reproductive health hormone that spikes when a woman is near ovulation.
The hormone works to help the woman’s egg reach the final stages of maturity in preparation for possible conception.
While levels of LH can be found in a woman’s urine at all times, there is a significant spike in the 24 – 48 hour period right before ovulation.
By identifying this spike, you’ll have a better idea when you’re at your most fertile.
There are typically two different types of ovulation test kits, one that looks like a small piece of paper that you dip into a cup of urine. The other resembles a typical urine-based pregnancy test that you pee directly on.
There are several benefits to using ovulation test strips, including:
- Many of the best ovulation strips boast up to a 99% accuracy rating
- These tests let you know when ovulation is approaching, not just when it’s already occurred, as with basal body temperature charting
- Unlike with your basal body temperature, ovulation test strips can be used at any time of the day – not just right when you wake up before you get out of bed
- Many women are more comfortable using ovulation test strips than checking their cervical mucus for signs of ovulation
- Ovulation test strips provide more precise information about your fertile days, instead of the estimated dates you’ll receive from ovulation apps. A 2018 scientific study even concluded that mobile apps only yield a 21% accuracy rating.
- Ovulation test strips are much more cost effective than fertility monitors like the Ava Bracelet or Ovacue Monitor, unless you use the monitor over a long TTC journey
Note that there are a few cons to using ovulation test strips. They do not confirm ovulation like BBT testing or using a fertility monitor. Also, some women experience multiple follicular stimulations, having 2 LH surges in one cycle even if they only ovulate once.
Learning How to Use Ovulation Test Strips
The first time I ordered ovulation test strips, I was overwhelmed by what I received in the mail:
A giant bag of small blue paper strips with ZERO instructions on how to use them.
I understood they were “urine-related,” but the ins-and-outs of actually using them were lost on me.
What time should I use them?
Should I drink before using them?
How long was I supposed to wait for accurate results?
SO MANY QUESTIONS!
Luckily, I’ve learned a few things from my fellow moms since that confusing time in my life, and I’ve figured out how to use ovulation test strips successfully!
Here are a few of the most common questions about using ovulation test strips to conceive–answered just for you.
1. What do you do with an ovulation test strip?
Let’s start with the basics of figuring out how to use ovulation test strips the right way.
As stated previously, there are two different common types of ovulation test kits on the market:
- ones you pee directly on (these look like pregnancy tests)
- and ones you dip into your urine (these look like thin pieces of paper)
If you’re confused about which type of ovulation test kit you have, be sure to read any directions that came with your package (if you were lucky enough to receive instructions, that is!).
Once you’ve “coated” your test in pee, the waiting game begins.
While most results only take about five minutes to appear, you should look to the instructions on your specific brand of home test for further information.
Some ovulation test kits only come with around a week’s worth of tests, which might not be enough to gain clear information about your fertile window.
Be sure to have a decent number of ovulation test strips available, at least for the first couple of cycles.
When you do get a positive test, plan on having sex at least once a day for the next two to three days if you’re hoping to get pregnant.
If you want the best and quickest results possible, be on the lookout for changes in your cervical mucus, such as thickening, changes in color, or increased amounts.
These changes can help you figure out when ovulation might be approaching, so you’ll have an idea when to start testing.
2. Is a certain time of day better than others to test for ovulation?
One of the best things about ovulation test strips is that they don’t require you to use them first thing after waking up.
Before I turned to an ovulation test kit, I attempted to keep track of my basal body temperature.
The problem with this method was that when I first woke up in the morning (the best time for basal temp checking), my groggy mind didn’t care to remind me that I needed to stay still and check my temp.
Instead, I would hop out of bed in search of the coffee pot, only to remember halfway to the kitchen that I was supposed to temp. So, then I would creep back to bed and pretend I hadn’t moved a muscle.
Not the best way to achieve accurate results.
With ovulation test strips, on the other hand, you can take them ANY time of the day.
While some researchers believe there is still a chance that early morning testing could be beneficial, there are no clear indicators to prove this.
In fact, some studies have even shown taking these tests with your first pee of the day is not a good idea, as most women have an LH surge in the morning regularly.
The most important thing regarding the best time to use ovulation test strips is to try and remember to check at the same time each day.
3. Are there any rules about what you should or shouldn’t drink before testing?
For a successful ovulation test result, the more concentrated the urine, the better.
This means that not only should you try to avoid peeing for one-to-two hours before testing, you should also avoid drinking lots of water or other fluids before testing, as this can dilute your urine and skew the results.
How to Read Your Ovulation Test
Using ovulation test strips sometimes involves a bit of troubleshooting.
While it might seem that getting a positive or negative answer is easy, certain situations require a little more consideration.
We’ve asked our community for their questions about the results they’ve received from their ovulation test kits—here are the answers you need to know.
When you’re excited to have a baby, or trying to avoid getting pregnant for that matter, any indicator on an ovulation test strip can get the wheels turning in your brain.
1. Does a faint line mean you’re ovulating?
Most tests have some sort of control line for you to look at.
Occasionally, however, response lines will form that are fainter than the control line. Does this mean you’re ovulating or that ovulation is approaching?
Not exactly, since there’s always a small amount of LH present in a woman’s urine.
For this reason, it’s common to see a faint line appear on your test. But a faint test line equals a negative ovulation test–you are not about to ovulate when the line is faint!
For a true “positive result,” your test line should be as dark or darker than the control line on your test.
2. What does a blinking smiley face mean?
During your ovulation testing cycle, there’s a chance you’ll receive a “blinking smiley face” result.
While this cheerful, excited emblem might instinctually feel like a sign your body is in full ovulatory swing, this isn’t necessarily true.
Instead, a flashing smiley face merely means your fertility is high – not necessarily that you’re at “peak fertility.”
For the ultimate in fertility-readiness, women should be on the lookout for the standstill smiley face emoji. This image represents when a woman has the highest chance of conceiving.
Don’t worry, though–with a blinking smiley face, there is still a good chance you could become pregnant.
3. Will an ovulation test be positive if you’re pregnant?
That being said; there’s also a chance your ovulation test strips could turn up negative while you’re pregnant.
If you’re suspicious that you might be pregnant, don’t rely on an ovulation test kit to provide you with answers. Traditional pregnancy tests are more sensitive to hCG and will give you the most reliable results.
Still not sure whether you’re actually pregnant or not? When in doubt, always make an appointment with your doctor to have your concerns medically reviewed.
The Best Ovulation Test Strips of 2020
With so many different types of ovulation test kits on the market, it can be hard to tell which ones you should trust.
If you’re interested in learning more about the best ovulation test strips of 2020, we’ve done the research for you!
Our favorite thing about the Natalist Test Pack is its easy-to-use, jargon-free instructions! Hard to come by with such tests, we love Natalist for their clear communication with TTC mamas.
This pack comes with 7 ovulation tests and 4 pregnancy tests, and includes a subscribe-and-save option so you can have them conveniently delivered to your door each month.
We love products from Fairhaven Health because their research team is constantly looking for the most up-to-date information to support families trying to conceive.
Their big bundle of test strips include 30 ovulation test strips (the kind you dip in a urine cup) and 10 early detection pregnancy tests at a great price.
More interested in mid-stream peeing on a stick? They have you covered with the deluxe midstream pack.
While we’ve already mentioned the Clearblue ovulation test, its popularity bears repeating.
This easy-to-use test boasts nearly a 5-star rating on Amazon and has more than 8,400 outstanding reviews.
It features a design similar to regular pregnancy tests and an approximate 99% accuracy rating. Plus, it’s one of the few ovulation test kits that includes 20 individual tests.
One downfall to this test is it might not work for women struggling with fertility-related conditions, such as PCOS infertility that causes anovulation (the absence of ovulation) or irregular ovulatory cycles.
Let’s face it, when we’re hoping to conceive, we are probably going to be anxious to take a pregnancy test once the two week wait after ovulation is over.
That’s where this amazing kit from Easy@Home comes in!
Not only does this budget-friendly option include 50 ovulation test strips, but it also comes with a convenient supply of 20 home pregnancy tests.
Are you wondering whether you should trust an ovulation test kit that’s so affordably priced?
Well, the 21,000+ reviews on Amazon are a good indication that you can.
Many women have found great success using these tests. For example, one reviewer struggled with PCOS and hypothyroidism but still managed to get pregnant after only a single cycle with these ovulation test strips.
In terms of negative reviews, it can be noted that some users received false negatives with the included pregnancy tests. If you believe you’re pregnant and don’t get a positive, it’s worth speaking to your doctor or using a better home pregnancy test for confirmation.
Another affordable option is Pregmate Ovulation Test Strips. Users love the Pregmate Ovulation Test Strips for their clear responses and easy usability.
Thanks to their low cost, many users mention choosing these strips to use as natural birth control instead of pills.
While many of the reviews on Amazon reference the reliability and accuracy of Pregmate strips, it is worth noting that some individuals experienced false positives. This could be a sign of a defective strip or could indicate an underlying medical issue.
If you’re concerned about the results you’re seeing, don’t be afraid to speak with your doctor or care provider.
Are you looking for a more technologically-advanced ovulation testing kit? Then the Mira Fertility Starter Kit might be for you.
This state-of-the-art kit comes with a small device that you’ll put your ovulation test directly into.
The device will evaluate the hormone levels in your urine and provide results regarding your fertility. It’s also connected to an easy-to-read app for consistent tracking.
The downfall? The Mira ovulation tester is not cheap! The device itself costs over $100, plus you’ll need to purchase additional urine tests based on your needs.
Jumpstart Your Fertility Tracking Experience Today
It’s not always easy to keep track of your ovulation cycles without additional help—that’s where ovulation test strips come in.
These single-use devices are constructed to provide accurate information you can use to learn when you are most fertile.
Whether you’re hoping to conceive or trying to avoid it, there are a plethora of different options for ovulation testing available depending on your budget and preference.
And remember, if you’re struggling to conceive, take control of the process.
Tracking your ovulation is a great first step in getting ahead of your worries and working towards the family you’ve been hoping for.
If you’ve used these types of ovulation trackers before, which ones have had the best ovulation test strips for you?
Kristen Bergeron is a freelance writer from Florida. In addition to writing, she is a wife, mother of two beautiful girls, Hadley and Scarlett, and a part-time photographer. After overcoming infertility and having two successful IVF cycles, she’s made it a personal goal to help educate men and women on the realities of fertility struggles. She is passionate about supporting fellow women who are trying to navigate the complicated world of conception, pregnancy, and learning to be the best mothers we can be.