In recent years, affordable, easily-accessible diagnostic tools like ovulation predictor tests and saliva ovulation microscopes have certainly offered ttc couples a fertility edge. Even a decade ago, such testing products were either prohibitively expensive, difficult to use, or did not even exist at all outside of clinical settings. Ovulation Calculator would like to provide a complete guide to home diagnostic tools for trying-to-conceive couples. Below you'll find a list of tests and complete details about how they work.
Primer on Fertility and Ovulation - and Timing Intercourse
Ovulation is the period of peak fertility. Ovulation and pregnancy go hand in hand and the fertilization of the egg following ovulation leads to a pregnancy. Learning about your unique cycle is the first step to achieving pregnancy.
Your most fertile period starts about 4 days before ovulation, and ends about 24 hours following the release of the egg. Because the sperm can live in a woman's body for 5 days or so, a woman's fertile period is actually longer than the 24 hour live-span of the ovum. To increase your chances of conceiving and becoming pregnant, predicting the days of peak fertility - and more specifically predicting the date of ovulation - is key.
Timing Intercourse: The most fertile time to conceive is the period before and during ovulation. A woman is most fertile during the time following her LH surge (this is what urine ovulation tests detect), when the mature ovum is released from the follicle: ovulation. The best way to determine your most fertile time is to pay attention to your body, fertility chart with a basal thermometer, spot the physical signs of ovulation, or use the predictive tests discussed below. Fertility tests allow you to discover if you may be facing fertility issues.
Fertility Tests for Women and Men
Want to Check Your Eggs? Want to Check Your Swimmers?
FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) testing is commonly used to evaluate a woman's egg supply (ovarian reserve) to see if she may be infertile and assist in evaluating menstrual problems, irregular or absent menstrual periods (amenorrhea).
FSH tests are designed for women in cases where elevated levels of FSH may be associated with infertility. Women experiencing infertility, recently missed periods, anovulation or ovulatory irregularity, or hot flashes can use an FSH test to discover if these symptoms are the result of elevated FSH levels. A follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) test may be done to help find the cause for a couple's inability to become pregnant.
Male Fertility Tests allow you to evaluate sperm counts. Low sperm counts are also a contributing factor to infertility issues.The FertilMARQ male fertility test kit is an easy-to-use screening test to measure sperm concentration. The test determines whether your sperm concentration is above or below 20 million sperm cells per milliliter.
Urine Ovulation Tests (LH)
Predicting Ovulation by Pinpointing the LH Surge
Ovulation tests anticipate ovulation and peak fertility. Luteinizing hormone (LH) in elevated quantities facilitates ovulation. During the rest of the menstrual cycle, only a small amount of LH is produced, but in the middle of the cycle LH briefly and dramatically increases. This increase is called the "LH surge" and precedes ovulation. Conception is most likely to occur within thirty-six hours following the LH surge. The LH Ovulation Test (ovulation predictor kit) is specifically designed to detect your LH surge - the time when you are likely to ovulate. To buy, click here.
Ovulation Microscopes : Saliva ovulation tests predict ovulation in a similar way, by detecting fluctuations in hormone levels. However, saliva ovulation tests detect changes in the hormone estrogen. Before ovulation takes place, a gradual estrogen increase takes place. With the ovulation microscope, you predict fertility by viewing the visual changes that take place in your saliva throughout your cycle. Just prior to ovulation, women experience this "estrogen surge", which is less sudden than an LH surge any thereby helps you predict ovulation as much as 72 hours in advance. The ovulation saliva test allows you to observe crystal patterns that become present in your saliva due to this increase in estrogen. The crystal pattern is called "ferning" (as the patterns resemble fern fronds), and when you see strong ferning patterns, you know you are fertile and ovulation will take place in the next few days.
Pregnancy Tests: Home Testing for Pregnancy
Pregnancy Tests determine pregnancy through the detection of the hormone hCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin) in a woman's urine. hCG is secreted by the developing placenta shortly after a fertilized egg has implanted in the uterine lining. The makes hCG an excellent, reliable marker for discovering if you are pregnant. Pregnancy tests come in two common formats - tests strips and midstream tests.
To use a pregnancy test strip, you fill a container with urine and hold the test strip in the container for several seconds. With midstream tests, you simply hold the test in your stream of urine. Please do read the pregnancy test instructions carefully, as well as our FAQ and testing tips. For example, a first morning urine sample will provide a more concentrated presence of hCG, allowing you to detect pregnancy sooner. Also, flushing the body with liquids before collecting a sample may dilute the presence of hCG.
Interpreting Pregnancy Test Results: Once the reaction time of the test is complete (about five minutes), color bands will appear in the test region of the strip or midstream unit. All tests have a "control" band that indicates whether the test is working or not. The "test" band indicates a positive or negative result. Given proper testing and interpretation procedure, a faint line in the test region may be read as a positive result, though it's a good idea to verify any result with an additional test 24-48 hours later (using first morning urine).
How Soon Can I Test? Pregnancy test sensitivity is measured in thousandths of International Units, or mIU. The most sensitive pregnancy tests can detect hCG levels at as low as 20 mIU. This level of hCG is present in the urine of pregnant women at about 7 to 10 days past ovulation. Test sensitivity equates with early-detection - and the lower the number, the sooner a test can detect pregnancy. If pregnant, the amount of hCG in your system should be around 25 mIU at 10 dpo (days past ovulation), 50 mIU at 12 dpo, 100 mIU at around two weeks dpo. Our pregnancy tests are the most sensitive available, sensitive to 20 mIU/hCG. For earliest detection of pregnancy, use first morning urine, as this urine sample contains the most concentrated amount of hCG.
How Accurate are Home Pregnancy Tests? Very accurate. Most FDA approved tests are well over 99% accurate in clinical settings. If you use a home pregnancy test too early in your pregnancy, you may not have enough of the pregnancy hormone hCG in your urine to have a positive test result.