What is an ovulation test?



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 2/8/21

When trying to conceive, it’s important to have the right tools in your toolbox. After all, these tools help you get pregnant faster.

Today we’re going to dive into a tool that helps you accurately time intercourse: an ovulation test!

What is an ovulation test?

Ovulation tests are hormone test strips that help detect the luteinizing hormone (LH) surge that occurs during the middle of your menstrual cycle, about 24-36 hours before ovulation. LH is responsible for stimulating the ovary to release an egg.

Luteinizing hormone is produced and released by the pituitary gland. It is a reproductive hormone responsible for controlling the function of the ovaries in women. LH plays a role in sexual development and functionality. 

Ovulation tests are used to help you find your fertile window and time intercourse. This is because an egg is only viable for about 12-24 hours after it’s released. Sperm, on the other hand, can survive between 3 and 5 days in the female reproductive system. 

All this is to say that our fertile windows can be very short! Ovulation tests allow you to track LH levels in urine to predict when ovulation is going to occur, so that sperm has a chance to meet the egg while it’s still viable.

what is an ovulation test

Ovulation tests help detect the luteinizing hormone (LH) surge that occurs in the middle of your cycle, about 24-36 hours before ovulation.

How do ovulation tests work?

As we mentioned, ovulation tests measure luteinizing hormone (LH) levels in urine. LH peaks right before ovulation and is an indication you are about to ovulate. 

Ovulation tests are non-invasive, allowing you to track LH levels over several days — even multiple times per day — in order to catch the surge. A positive ovulation test indicates LH is surging and your fertile window is opening. This is when intercourse is most likely to result in conception.

What are the different types of ovulation tests?

It’s important to understand the various types of ovulation tests and differences in how they quantify results.

Types of ovulation tests: 

  • Strip-based tests: If you’ve used Proov LH tests, then you have used a strip-based test. When using these tests, you’ll dip the ovulation test into a urine sample you’ve already collected, let it process, and read the result. 
  • Midstream tests: Midstream tests work a little different. Instead of collecting a urine sample, you’ll pee directly on these tests — hence the name, “midstream.” Midstream tests typically come in larger plastic casings than strip-based tests so that they’re easier to hold. 

How ovulation tests quantify results:

  • Threshold tests: Threshold tests are designed to turn positive when LH reaches a certain level. The FDA standard is for LH tests to turn positive when 25 mIU/ml of LH is present in urine. 
  • Semi-quantitative tests: Semi-quantitative tests are designed to show changes in LH levels over time. As you near your LH surge, the test line will become darker. Semi-quantitative tests often show LH ranges as low, medium, or high fertility.

what is an ovulation test

The FDA standard level for a positive ovulation test is 25 mIU/ml of LH present in urine.

When do you use an ovulation test?

We recommend beginning testing with Proov LH tests about 18 days before your next suspected period. For example, if you have a 28-day cycle, you’ll want to start testing with Proov LH tests on cycle day 10. However, not every ovulation test has the same testing protocol, so be sure to read the instructions prior to testing. 

You can use Proov LH tests in the morning or afternoon. In fact, as you get closer to your suspected ovulation date, we recommend testing LH in the morning and afternoon. LH surges can be short and testing twice a day gives you a better chance of accurately catching it. 

But, ovulation tests tell you nothing about if ovulation actually occurred

That’s right: ovulation tests simply predict when ovulation will happen so that you can better time intercourse. They do not tell you whether or not an egg was released. And after all, without an egg there is no chance at conception.

Confirming successful ovulation after it has occurred is the best way to ensure that you even have a chance at conception that cycle. You can confirm successful ovulation with Proov PdG tests

PdG (Pregnanediol Glucuronide) is a urine metabolite of progesterone that only rises after ovulation has occurred. PdG is critical to conception — without enough PdG for long enough, it can be more difficult to get pregnant. 

Successful ovulation refers to an ovulatory event in which an egg was released and PdG levels remained elevated for long enough to allow for the best possible chance at conception. Proov PdG tests are the first and only FDA cleared test of their kind to confirm successful ovulation at home. We like to see four positive PdG tests on days 7, 8, 9, and 10 after peak fertility (i.e. a positive ovulation test) to confirm that successful ovulation did in fact occur. 

what is an ovulation test

Proov PdG tests are the first and only FDA cleared test of their kind to confirm successful ovulation at home.

Predict and confirm ovulation with Proov!

What’s better than buying ovulation and PdG test separately? Buying them together!

The Proov Predict and Confirm kit comes with 15 LH tests and 5 PdG tests — enough for one complete cycle of testing. Together, these hormone tests give you a full picture of your ovulation that cycle.

The more you know about ovulation tests (and PdG tests!) the better equipped you are with the tools and information you need to 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