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Could your ovulation tests be misleading you?

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There is a growing demand for effective ovulation tracking. To increase your chances of conception, you need to be able to calculate your “fertile window” (the 6-8-days in each cycle when you have the highest chance of conception).

However, tracking your true fertile window using an app alone is not enough. As hormones fluctuate, so does our predicted day of ovulation in each cycle.

Standard ovulation prediction kits (OPKs)

Basic tests in this field measure the increase/rise in luteinising hormone (LH), which typically occurs before ovulation, and triggers it. The majority of OPKs come with LH test strips to measure the concentration of this hormone in your urine, in order to tell you when ovulation is approaching (24-36 hours).

Standard test strips generally have two lines. The control line, which indicates that the test is working. And a second line, the test line. Most OPKs allow you to check by eye whether the test strip is significantly darker than the control line.

If you are trying to conceive it is important to know when your fertile window will be (the 6-8-day span), including the expected date of ovulation. Standard ovulation test strips only allow a fertile window of 24-36 hours.

Advanced (digital) OPKs

As it can be hard to determine how dark the line is, an increasing number of women are searching for digital solutions. However, digital OPKs can also be confusing or inaccurate as they may only let you test according to an app’s prediction of the rise in your LH alone, which you could miss if you are not testing every day as you may be in your fertile window period already.

It is important to remember that in many cases sperm can wait up to five days for the egg to be released. Taking advantage of your full fertile window could increase your chances of conception and decrease the pressure of having to have timed intercourse after the LH rise alone.

What to look out for when buying an OPK

Check how many hormones it tests, how often it tests, and which hormones it tests.

Also, how it lets you know that you are entering your fertile window period/or that you are about to ovulate, and when that date will be.

Most OPKs only test the rise in LH indicating that ovulation is about to occur. OPKs that test follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) too can indicate the fertile window up to six days in advance, as opposed to only two days with the LH test strips alone.

Look at the technology behind your preferred digital OPK. How does it digitise the test results? How clearly does it show your cycle data, and how many days of your cycle data are included in its calculations?

OPK recommendations

Kits should test more than one key ovulation hormone. For example, they should measure both LH and FSH to identify more fertile days.

Use OPKs that measure your full cycle period, considering your unique cycle length, expected date of ovulation and your fertile window, especially if you have PCOS.

Choose OPKs that make use of an app, test strips, and that can give you results in a digital format, based on your unique cycle length and hormone pattern. Also OPKs that you can use if you have endometriosis or PCOS.

Use OPKs with colorimetric digitisation technology. This means the technology is used to read the lines of your hormone test strips thoroughly through the lens of your smartphone camera and digitise the result right away on your phone, giving you an overview of your full cycle, and not just the two days leading up to ovulation.

Choose a digital OPK that allows you to track your cycle, FSH and LH, and that reminds you when you are most fertile and when to test which hormone throughout your cycle period.

How to use your OPK correctly

Always measure your hormones using either first morning urine, or the urine after your longest and deepest sleep. This is because the metabolites of the hormones you are testing accumulate during your deep sleep phases.

Stick to using one brand only, as many OPKs work differently. Using more than one OPK could decrease your chances of conception if they are giving you different results. Different brands have different methods of predicting your fertile window. You could choose a few brands, use each brand over a cycle period, and then decide which one works best for you.

The Pearl Fertility Ovulation Tracking Kit

At Fertility Collection, we prefer the Pearl app as it tracks your unique cycle and the two key fertility hormones for ovulation throughout your unique cycle period.

It tells you when you are most fertile and when your best chances of conception are, and it accurately tracks your fertile window (up to six days including the date of ovulation and thereafter).

It digitalises all your results on its in vitro registered medical app. This way you have an overview of your whole cycle, which you can share with your medical practitioner if need be.

The Pearl Fertility Kit is 99.9 percent accurate in predicting your fertile window based on your cycle length and hormone results, giving individualised cycle tracking at your fingertips. The Pearl fertility kit can be used if you have PCOS.

The Pearl Kit includes:
o 15 FSH test strips
o 15 LH test strips
o 2 HCG pregnancy tests
o Unique access code to the Pearl Fertility App
o Reusable test strip holder

Fertility Collection will be exhibiting at Fertility Show Africa on 9 & 10 October 2021 at the Focus Rooms, Sandton Johannesburg, and online.


Fertility Show Africa offers those struggling to conceive, and those on a journey to parenthood a unique opportunity to meet face-to-face, in-person or virtually, with a wide range of experts, at one time and in an intimate space where they can engage, ask questions, find answers and gather information from some of Africa’s best specialists, embryologists, nurses, psychologists, social workers and wellness support experts.