An Ovulation Predictor Kit, known as an OPK allows you to pinpoint your fertile window and predict ovulation in advance. With urine-based OPKs the best time to test your urine is between 10am and 8pm. It’s very easy to tell when you are on your most fertile days as coloured bands will appear on the test card or stick or a smiley face symbol will show on a digital test and this shows that a Luteinising Hormone (LH) surge is occurring.
It is best if you can try to collect your urine at the same time every day but not first thing in the morning. Drinking too much liquid will dilute your urine so try to reduce your intake for about 2 hours before you test. Give your test about a minute to produce results and read it within 5 minutes as some negative results can show a faint coloured band later although the positive result will not disappear. These tests can predict ovulation 24 to 36 hours beforehand and only need to be used mid-cycle and not every day. They are still effective even if your temperature doesn’t rise after ovulating and are convenient and mess free. They are about 99% accurate but not foolproof and cost between £10 and £15 per cycle.
The positive aspects of OPK’s are that for an accurate result you must follow the instructions to the letter and are not ideal if you have an irregular cycle as you may require more predictor sticks than the supplied amount. There is no definite guarantee of ovulation as the LH can surge without the release of an egg and false LH surges can happen before the real one. Taking drugs containing hCG or LH can invalidate results.
You can also use Salivary Ferning Kits with a portable microscope to test for ovulation. First thing in the morning before having anything to eat or drink you place some of your saliva on the slide, wait for it to dry and then use the microscope to see if there is any ferning or not. When you see the ferning pattern you will know that ovulation is likely to occur in the next 24 to 72 hours. This test is not as accurate as the LH test as ferning can sometimes happen at other times in your menstrual cycle. If used correctly this test is about 98% accurate. The microscope will cost between £20 to £40 but can be used again. This product would not be the best method for you if you have poor eyesight.
LH OPK’s seem to be easier to use and have great reviews. On reading reviews about Salivary Ferning Kits people are finding it difficult to tell whether or not ferning has occurred. The Salivary Ferning Kit is cheaper in the long run but not as accurate or easy to use as the LH OPK.
Home Sperm Test
A Home Sperm Test is a DIY fertility test that can be performed in the privacy of your own home and helps avoid embarrassing visits to your GP. There are many of these available to buy and range from £20 to £30. Depending on which product you buy, the accuracy rate can range from 87% to 97% and the instructions are different for each test, some providing results within one minute and others take as long as 90 minutes. The results checker on some is a colour chart that you have to match to identify a positive or negative result. All the tests have the same cut off level of 20 million sperm cells per millilitre (ml) which means that if your sperm count is lower than this, the test will imply infertility.
The reviews on most of the products are poor, some say that doing the home sperm test caused much stress, worry and sleepless nights. Others say they were getting a negative result to then get professionally tested and find out they are normal. The general feeling in online forums is not to buy these tests but to seek professional help.