Ovulation Test Strips

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 11/16/21

ovulation test strips

While commonly used, ovulation tests strips are also commonly misunderstood.

We are lucky to live in a world where there are so many tools to help couples trying to conceive! The more information you have at your fingertips, the more empowered you can be on your TTC journey.

Ovulation test strips are one of these many tools. While commonly used, ovulation test strips are also commonly misunderstood. Let’s get to the bottom of it!

What are ovulation test strips?

Ovulation occurs when the ovary releases a mature egg, in preparation for fertilization, conception, and pregnancy. It should happen each cycle, about midway through.

In the past, many of us have been told that ovulation happens on cycle day 14, without question. However, every cycle and person is different, meaning ovulating exactly on cycle day 14 isn’t always true.

In fact, studies show that a normal cycle length can last anywhere from 21 to 35 days. Given that ovulation occurs midway through your cycle, you may ovulate before or after cycle day 14 depending on your cycle length.

Another study showed out of 330 women, only 13 were able to accurately predict their ovulation day — that’s only 4%! Those who accurately predicted ovulation used ovulation prediction methods, like the good old ovulation test.

The ovulation test strip helps us predict ovulation by detecting a luteinizing hormone (LH) surge in urine. When your brain senses an egg is ready to ovulate, it sends a surge of LH to the ovary which triggers the follicle to release the egg.

Ovulation should occur about 12-36 hours after an LH surge. So, a positive ovulation test strip predicts ovulation should come soon.

Note that we didn’t say a positive ovulation test strip confirms that you did in fact ovulate — because it doesn’t! Contrary to popular belief, an ovulation test does not confirm ovulation; it only predicts that it may occur soon.

To confirm ovulation, you’d need to use a PdG test, like Proov Confirm, after getting a positive ovulation test.

ovulation test strips

To confirm ovulation, you’d need to use a PdG test, like Proov Confirm, after getting a positive ovulation test.

Why would I use an ovulation test?

As we mentioned, a positive ovulation test strip signals that ovulation may occur soon. If you are trying to conceive, knowing when you ovulate is essential.

This is because there are only a few days each cycle when intercourse can actually result in conception. This is referred to as the fertile window and occurs during the days leading up to and the day of ovulation.

The fertile window is so short because an egg can only live for 12-24 hours after ovulation. However, sperm can live in the female reproductive tract for up to 5 days.

Predicting when ovulation should occur with something like an ovulation test can help you time intercourse around your fertile window and have it early enough so sperm is waiting for the egg to be released.

In fact, timing intercourse appropriately during your cycle is an important part of trying to conceive. Studies show that one of the main reasons couples fail to conceive is due to mistiming of intercourse.

Additionally, getting a positive ovulation test to show you had an LH surge is an important step in the ovulatory process. Without an LH surge, studies show that you likely will not ovulate. And of course, without ovulation, pregnancy just isn’t possible. 

When do I use ovulation test strips?

There are many ovulation test strips on the market and each has different testing instructions. We recommend following the instructions for the specific brand you have, although we’ll dive into how to test with Proov Predict LH tests.

Note that you can use Proov Predict tests with the Proov Insight app to receive reminders on when to test, numeric hormone values, and help interpreting your results! So while the below information is a nice overview, there’s no need to memorize it; the app will do all the tracking for you.

ovulation test strips

Note that you can use Proov Predict tests with the Proov Insight app to receive reminders on when to test, numeric hormone values, and help interpreting your results!

If your cycles are regular and you know when to expect your next period, we recommend you start testing LH 18 days before your next expected period. For a 28-day cycle, that would be on cycle day 10.

If your cycles are irregular or you’re new to cycle tracking, you may want to start as soon as the day after or a few days after your period ends.

While other urine-based hormone tests require first morning urine, you don’t necessarily need to use first morning urine with an ovulation test.

Studies show LH levels peak in blood at night, between midnight and 8 am, then need a little more time to show up in urine. Because of this, some people find second morning urine (around 9 or 10 am) gives a better LH reading.

Additionally, you may want to test 2 times per day as you near your date of suspected ovulation — once in the morning and once in the evening. This is because LH surges can be short and we want to ensure you don’t miss it!

What are the different types of ovulation test strips?

Ovulation test strips are either qualitative or quantitative. Qualitative tests offer positive or negative results, while quantitative tests over numeric hormone values.

Qualitative ovulation tests

Qualitative ovulation tests usually turn positive when at least 25mIU/ml of LH is present in urine. When LH reaches this value, meaning you’ll get a positive test result, both lines of the strip turn the same color and intensity.

If you are using a digital test, a solid smiley means your test is positive and LH has reached the threshold value. Regardless, a positive test result indicates you have observed peak fertility.

Quantitative ovulation tests

Quantitative tests work by reading your LH levels and giving you real, numeric hormones values. While these tests will show you a hormone value, the widely agreed upon standard level for identifying an LH surge is a level of 25 mIU/ml or higher.

Ovulation test strips are a helpful tool when trying to conceive and can help you time intercourse around when you’re fertile so you can get pregnant 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