Wouldn’t it be great if Ovulation Predictor Kits did exactly as they promised:
1 Pee on the stick. 2 Have Intercourse. 3 Get pregnant.
Easy Right? WRONG!
Ovulation Predictor Kits (OPKs) are the most commonly used ‘pee-on-stick’ devices after Pregnancy tests. Most people either love them or hate them. If you feel like you are flushing your money and your pregnancy hopes down the toilet with Ovulation Predictor Kits then take a look at my Top 5 Tips on using Ovulation Predictor Kits below.
But first, let me explain how OPKs actually work:
OPKs work by measuring the presence of Luteinizing Hormone (LH) in your urine. What is so special about LH? Well LH is normally present at low levels throughout the menstrual cycle. When an egg is mature and ready to be released, the levels of LH suddenly rise and this causes the follicle containing the egg to rupture and release the egg into the fallopian tube (Ovulation). After ovulation, levels of LH drop again. The increased LH level should only be detected for a short period during each cycle. In general, high LH levels should be detected by an OPK the day before you ovulate.
So how do you increase your chances of getting pregnant using OPKs?
Tip 1: Timing is Crucial
One way to spend alot of money and get yourself worked up into a tizzy is to start using OPKs at the wrong time of your cycle. This will just result in a big pile of OPKs which will tell you nothing.
Use an ovulation calculator (www.ovulationcalculator.ie) to help you to identify when you are likely to ovulate based on the length of your previous cycles. If you have irregular cycles use the length of your shortest cycle in the previous 6 months. Start testing on the first day of your predicted ‘fertile period’ and continue to test until you get a positive. You can use this as a guideline:
Tip 2: Do not use Morning urine to test
Most women get their LH surge in the morning and this can take up to 4 hours to be identified in the urine. The best time to test is in the middle of the day or in the evening. If you only test once a day in the morning then it is very easy to miss your surge completely as your levels will have dropped back down by the next morning.
Tip 3: How to Identify a Positive Result
This may seem like a no-brainer but it is actually more difficult than you may think! Always refer to the guidelines on the particular kit you are using. Unlike pregnancy tests, OPKs are not positive just because there is a second line. In general the second line MUST be the same colour or DARKER than the control line.
Tip 4: Time Intercourse correctly
Regular intercourse in the days leading up to Ovulation gives you the best chance of getting pregnant. Sperm can survive for up to 5 days in the fallopian tubes so don’t get too worked up if your partner is not around when you have a positive OPK. Ovulation should occur 12 to 48 hours after your positive OPK so a good rule is to try to have intercourse on the day of the Positive result and the 2 days afterwards.
Tip 5: Combine OPKs with other methods to accurately identify Ovulation.
OPKs are most accurate when used together with other monitoring methods. For example, monitoring your cervical mucus and checking your Basal Body Temperature on a daily basis. Each one of these methods can back up the other and give you more confidence about identifying your fertile window.
Getting pregnant should be easy but for almost 1 in 6 couples in Ireland today, Trying to Conceive can be difficult. Understanding your own body and learning to identify your own biological signs and symptoms are the key to getting pregnant naturally. Women with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) often have difficulty using OPKs because they have elevated levels of LH throughout their cycles. If you notice this you should have your hormone levels checked by your doctor to confirm if you are ovulating.
If you do not ovulate then you cannot get pregnant.
Help is available and if you think you may have a problem with ovulation it is important to seek advice sooner rather than later.