How to Confirm Ovulation: Progesterone Blood Test, BBT, or PdG?

Written by: Dr. Amy Beckley, PhD, Founder and Inventor of the Proov test — the first and only FDA-cleared test to confirm successful ovulation at home.

Written on 12/14/2020

You can confirm ovulation with progesterone blood tests, BBT tracking, or PdG tests. But which method gives a more complete ovulation picture?

Why do I need to confirm ovulation?

First things first, it’s important to distinguish between knowing when you ovulate and if you’ve ovulated. These are two very different things but both are critical when trying to conceive.

Knowing when you ovulate is critical for timing intercourse. Conception can only occur if sperm and egg are present, which is why you should time intercourse around when an egg is going to be released.

However, this is only half of the ovulation equation. Confirming ovulation after it occurred lets you know that you even have a chance at conceiving that cycle. After all, without an egg present, conception is not possible.

how to confirm ovulation

Confirming ovulation after it occurred lets you know that you even have a chance at conceiving that cycle.

How do I confirm ovulation?

Ovulation can be confirmed through a progesterone blood test or basal body temperature (BBT) tracking.

Progesterone blood test

A blood, or serum, progesterone measurement is taken through a one-time blood test from your doctor or in a mail away kit. Usually, doctors order a blood test on day 21 of your cycle, approximately 7 days after ovulation, when progesterone should be the highest. Studies show that a serum progesterone level of 5 ng/ml or higher confirms ovulation.

Basal body temperature tracking

Basal body temperature tracking can be used to measure the slight increase in body temperature caused when progesterone rises and can therefore be used to confirm ovulation. This is done by using a thermometer specifically designed to measure basal body temperature every morning before getting out of bed.

how to confirm ovulation

Ovulation can be confirmed through a progesterone blood test or basal body temperature (BBT) tracking.

But...these methods can fall short

After ovulation occurs, the empty follicle produces progesterone throughout the luteal phase. While the previously mentioned methods can confirm an egg was released, they fail to tell you if your progesterone levels remained elevated for long enough to allow for the best possible chance at conception.

A progesterone blood test, for example, only shows levels at one point in time. This can be an issue since studies have shown that serum progesterone levels can fluctuate up to 8 times in just a 90-minute time period. This means that getting a blood draw at 8 am versus 2 pm could give you very different assumptions about ovulation and progesterone levels.

Basal body temperature (BBT), on the other hand, is a secondary symptom of a progesterone rise. BBT tracking gives you no information surrounding numeric progesterone levels or how long they were elevated for. There are also several factors that can influence temperature readings when checking basal body temperature such as not getting adequate sleep or oversleeping, alcohol consumption, stress, or snuggling up to a loved one.

What is successful ovulation?

“Successful” ovulation refers to an ovulatory event in which an egg was released and progesterone levels remain elevated to indicate the ovulation provided the best chance at conceiving that cycle. Confirming successful ovulation is critical when trying to conceive. Without sufficient progesterone levels after ovulation, it can be more difficult to get pregnant. 

how to confirm ovulation

“Successful” ovulation refers to an ovulatory event in which an egg was released and progesterone levels remain elevated for long enough to allow for the best possible chance at conception.

How do I confirm successful ovulation?

Confirming successful ovulation involves tracking progesterone levels over time. This can be difficult to do with something like a progesterone blood test since to accurately see levels over time, you’d need consecutive blood draws — ouch!

Luckily, there is a non-invasive way to confirm successful: PdG testing! PdG is a urine metabolite of progesterone and is typically only present in urine when progesterone is also present in blood.

PdG is measured in first morning urine after at least a 6-hour long hold. PdG levels in urine fluctuate less than progesterone levels in blood because PdG shows the average of all the levels from the day before. Since PdG testing is non-invasive, you can easily measure levels over several days.

Proov is the first and only FDA cleared PdG test kit to confirm successful ovulation at home. Proov PdG tests are urine-based and non-invasive, so you can easily track PdG levels over time and get results in just 5 minutes.

how to confirm ovulation

Proov is the first and only FDA cleared PdG test kit to confirm successful ovulation at home.

While a single positive Proov tests confirms ovulation, we like to see positive Proov tests on days 7, 8, 9, and 10 after peak fertility (i.e. a positive ovulation test or fertile cervical mucus) to confirm successful ovulation did in fact occur. This means that PdG levels remained elevated for long enough to allow for the best possible chance at conception.

If you never get a positive Proov test, this could be a sign of anovulation and we recommend consulting your doctor. If 1 or 2 of your Proov tests are negative or if Proov goes negative on day 10 during the testing window, this could be a sign of unsuccessful ovulation which could be hurting your chances of getting pregnant.

What can I do to improve ovulation quality?

There are plenty of ways to boost PdG levels and improve your ovulation quality! Here are just a few:

Diet changes: Some foods can help boost PdG production, such as kale, spinach, beans, pumpkin, or broccoli, among others.

Herbals: Some herbal supplements like vitex, maca, and red raspberry leaf have been shown to promote PdG production and a hormone balance. We recommend consulting your doctor before starting any supplements.

Seed cycling: Seed cycling involves eating certain seeds during certain phases of your cycle to promote a hormone balance. You can learn more about seed cycling here.

Prescription medications: Your doctor may be able to prescribe you progesterone supplements or ovulation-inducing medications. If you’re interested in prescription medication options, we recommend consulting your doctor.

Confirming ovulation is a critical piece of the pregnancy puzzle, but it’s important to remember that not all ovulation confirmation methods are created equal! PdG testing with Proov allows you to confirm successful ovulation and get a more complete ovulation picture so that you can reach your fertility goals faster!

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“Hormone balance plays a huge role in fertility, and understanding what’s going on with your hormones doesn’t have to be such a mystery.

It’s actually way easier than most people realize.” 

— Amy Beckley, Proov Founder