From digitals to wands to strips, there is never a shortage of ovulation test/prediction kits (OPKs) to choose from. In fact, it can get a little overwhelming in the pharmacy. What kind of ovulation test should you take, and which one is right for you? That's a little difficult to determine. It depends on your price point, the amount of tests you're taking per day (yes some women have to test at least three times per day), and readability.
First of all, it's important to know when to take an ovulation test to ensure you're getting an accurate reading and you don't miss your ovulation day. According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), it's best to wait until you notice a build up of fertile-quality cervical mucus before you start testing. You can check this by following the Natural Family Planning Method and according to many experts, women with "normal" cycles (around 30 days), can expect ovulation day to typically be day 16 of your cycle.
Dr. Thomas Ruiz, OB-GYN at Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California, tells Romper, “If a woman has an average cycle length of 30 days, subtract 14 days ... making your ovulation day, day 16," but you can adjust calculations to your cycle accordingly. An OPK detects your LH surge, which is the "Luteinizing hormone," and this hormone increases 24 to 48 hours prior to ovulation, triggering the egg to be released, according to the APA.
Now that you know what to look for and how they work, it's time to figure out the breakdown of different types of OPKs, from the good, the easy to read, and the most inexpensive.
Digital OPKs are definitely the most expensive of the bunch, obviously because of the technology used in the wand. But while digitals are definitely the easiest to read when it's a clear "yes" or "no," I've heard mixed reviews about the ClearBlue brand of OPKs, because of the smiley face. Sometimes it's flashing, sometimes it's not there, and sometimes it's just sitting still on the screen, smiling away. Some women get confused about when the absolute best time is to hit the sheets with these. However, they are pretty technologically advanced, and according to the First Response website, the digital ovulation tests, like all of their types of tests, are 99 percent accurate.
The Pros: Really easy to read.
The Cons: In my opinion, it isn't very helpful that you can't see the progression of your ovulation and changing luteinizing hormone levels very well, as opposed to the wands or strips. And they're way more expensive than any other ovulation test.
To me, wands are easier to decipher and keep track of in order to see patterns and where you're at in your cycle. Knowing if you're ovulating depends on the faintness of the line. If the test line isn't as dark or darker than the control line, you're not at peak ovulation. But you can see it gradually get darker or lighter if you test every day, and that helps you time intercourse really well — especially if you're doing the every other day method. Once you see it start to get darker, you can start hitting the sheets, since once you're at peak fertility, the egg will drop between 24 to 48 hours. Plus, sperm can last at least five days in there, noted APA, so you're more likely to get them to connect.
The Pros: They're easy to use, you can see the progression of your ovulation and changing luteinizing hormone levels, and you can pee directly on the tip, as opposed to having to pee in a cup and stick a strip in there.
The Cons: If you're having to test multiple times a day, purchasing the wands can get a bit expensive, and some women have a hard time determining if the line is darker than the control line or not.
These are my personal favorite as someone who has to take several ovulation tests a day. They come in bulk, and are easy to use. At around $20 for 50 ovulation test strips, many manufacturers also throw in 20 pregnancy tests to boot — which can also get expensive. These kits, in my opinion, are the way to go. The reading on the strips is the same as it is for the wands — you can watch the line get gradually darker or lighter to determine when the best time is to start having intercourse.
The Pros: They're inexpensive because you can buy them in bulk, and it's easier to track ovulation and your changing luteinizing hormone levels.
The Cons: You have to pee in a cup and stick the test strip in there every time and then lay it flat without getting pee on your fingers and hands. (But maybe you're not as clumsy as me and this won't be an issue for you.) Additionally, some women may have a hard time reading whether or not the test line is as dark or darker than the control line and may not hit the sheets at the right time. If you have issues with this, a digital OPK may be the way to go.
Picking the right OPK is a very personal thing, and it really depends on your preference. Are you having to test multiple times per day because of irregular cycles or anovulation, or just casually dabbling in the world of TTC? Either way, as long as you are taking it at the right time during your cycle, you should be well set to know when to hit the sheets.
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