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Can an ovulation test help you get pregnant?

How they work and where to find them

Person smiling at ovulation test strip next to smart phones displaying ovulation application. Credit: Reviewed / Getty Images / Helen Datsko / Amazon / Damir Khabirov / Renars2014

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When trying to get pregnant, knowing when you’re ovulating is key. While you can track your menstrual cycle manually or with an app to predict ovulation, you may not get the most precise results. Ovulation kits are used like pregnancy tests and can detect hormone levels that indicate your most fertile days. Using them every month can help you find the optimal time for intercourse. Here’s what OB-GYNs want you to know about these tests’ accuracy and safety.

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What are ovulation tests?

Used to make conception easier, ovulation test strips detect upcoming ovulation, or the release of an egg from the ovaries. Similar to a pregnancy test, you pee on a stick (or in a cup within which to insert a paper strip), and wait a few minutes for the positive test line to appear. The results may appear blurry at first, so make sure to wait for as long as directed, typically five minutes.

The ovaries typically release one egg a month, and the few days after that is when you’re most likely to get pregnant. Knowing when you’re ovulating can help increase the chances of pregnancy by allowing you to have sex at the optimal fertile time.

These tests are also far more accurate than manual methods of tracking when you might ovulate, which include tracking your period on a calendar (or app) and monitoring your basal body temperature for slight increases.

Where can you buy ovulation tests?

Box of Pregable ovulation tests next to smart phone that displays compatible phone application.
Credit: Reviewed / Pregable

Accompanied by a compatible smart app called Smile Reader, Pregable ovulation strips can give you frequent updates throughout the day about your fertility.

Ovulation predictor kits are widely available online through sites like Amazon, CVS, or Walgreens. For a tried-and-true option, consider the ClearBlue ovulation test, which offers digital results in the form of a cheery smiley face when you’re ovulating. It’s from the makers of the famed pregnancy test, and more than 38,000 Amazon reviews and an average score of 4.6 stars. It comes in packs of 10 or 20.

Starting at $29 at Amazon

For another popular, well-reviewed option that’s more budget-friendly, check out the Easy Home test strips. Available in packs of 20, 25, and 60, these paper tests are easy to use and have delivered seemingly accurate results, according to reviewers.

Starting at $10 at Amazon

The Pregable combo kit is another great option for those looking to conceive—and wanting to know if they’re successful. It includes 50 ovulation strips and 20 pregnancy tests and reviewers say they love the convenience of having both tests included with once purchase.

$15 at Amazon

How do ovulation tests work?

Also called ovulation predictor kits, these tests detect levels of luteinizing hormone (LH), the hormone that triggers ovulation. If the test results are positive, having sex over the next several days may help increase your chances of getting pregnant.

“Your eggs only live up to a day after they’re released, leaving a rather short period of time for the magic to happen and for fertilization to occur,” says Dr. Kenosha Gleaton, OB-GYN and medical director for Natalist, a female fertility brand that makes ovulation tests, pregnancy tests, supplements, and more. Using these tests can help highlight that window.

Are ovulation tests accurate?

When used correctly, ovulation test strips are 95% to 99% accurate, according to Dr. Jill Purdie, an Atlanta-based OB-GYN. However, while accurate with regard to hormone detection, they can’t confirm ovulation actually occurred. In rare cases, you may experience a rise in LH but your body may not release an egg. Unfortunately, the ovulation predictor kit can’t tell the difference.

Additionally, some medical conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can increase levels of LH and cause the tests to read positive all the time. This could also happen to people approaching menopause, so talk with your doctor to see if ovulation tests are right for you.

Can ovulation tests detect pregnancy?

Because LH is molecularly similar to human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), the hormone produced during pregnancy, ovulation predictor kits can detect the possibility of pregnancy. However, they are far less accurate than a pregnancy test for determining whether conception and implantation have occurred. Ovulation tests typically detect LH at 20 or 25 milliliters, whereas pregnancy tests can detect hCG at 10 milliliters, delivering more reliable results sooner.

How do you use an ovulation test?

Person holding up ovulation test stick with fingers.
Credit: Reviewed / Getty Images / viach80

With a small urine sample, you can predict when conception is most obtainable for your body.

To avoid missing your fertile window, you’ll want to start testing on the 10th or 11th day of your menstrual cycle, and test at the same time every day for several days. The LH surge can be short-lived, so if you’re concerned about missing detection, you can test twice a day, six to eight hours apart.

Once you get a positive result, you’ll want to have intercourse at least once a day for the next several days to increase your chances of pregnancy.

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