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 6/4/21
Read on to learn when exactly you should be testing for ovulation.
Knowing when you ovulate is critical when trying to conceive. After all, timing intercourse around ovulation ensures the egg and sperm meet!
But when exactly should you test for ovulation? Read on to find out!
What is ovulation and when does it occur?
There are three important phases during your cycle: the follicular phase, ovulation, and the luteal phase. During the follicular phase, your ovary chooses one follicle which will mature and prepare the egg for ovulation. The follicle also produces estrogen, which thickens the uterine lining.
Along with uterine lining thickness and follicle size, the estrogen level is one of the three main indicators your follicle is mature and ready for ovulation. When estrogen reaches an optimal level, it sends a signal to your brain that triggers a luteinizing hormone (LH) surge, which causes the follicle to release the egg — a.k.a. ovulation!
Ovulation occurs about midway through your cycle. This means that in an average 28-day cycle, ovulation should occur around cycle day 14.
But a normal cycle may last anywhere between 21 and 35 days and ovulation day varies according to cycle length. This means you may ovulate before or after cycle day 14, which is why the assumption that all women ovulate on cycle day 14 is inaccurate.
In healthy women, most cycles are ovulatory, meaning an egg is released monthly. However, even women with regular cycles may experience anovulation (lack of ovulation) every once in a while.
Even women with regular cycles may experience anovulation (lack of ovulation) every once in a while.
Why is testing for ovulation important?
Making sure ovulation happens on a regular basis is important whether you are trying to conceive or to ensure you have a healthy hormone balance. Normal ovulatory activity is a sign of overall health because it implies normal functioning of the endocrine system.
Even if you are not trying to conceive, tracking your cycle and being in tune with your body is essential in getting a complete picture of your fertility and overall health. Sporadic anovulatory cycles may happen and could simply be a fluke.
But when lack of ovulation or irregular cycles become a pattern, we recommend consulting your doctor as they may be a sign of underlying health issues. The most common cause of anovulation in women of reproductive age is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), but lack of ovulation may have other causes such as:
On the other hand, testing for ovulation is critical if you are trying to conceive. After all, without an egg conception just isn’t possible!
Additionally, conception can only occur during your fertile window, which are the few days leading up to and the day of ovulation. This is because after it’s released, an egg is only viable for 12-24 hours. Yet sperm can live in a woman’s reproductive tract for up to 5 days, meaning it’s ideal to have the sperm present and waiting for the egg to be released.
Understanding when ovulation should occur during your cycle can help you better time intercourse in order to conceive. The chances of getting pregnant the few days before ovulation are significantly higher than the day of ovulation or after.
When do I test for ovulation?
Ovulation tests measure LH levels in urine to detect the surge and predict when ovulation is going to occur. In order to do this, you’ll want to start testing before your suspected ovulation date. If you don’t know when you’re going to ovulate, you can always start testing with ovulation tests about 3-4 days after your period ends.
If you are using Proov Predict, we recommend beginning testing about 18 days before your next suspected period. So if you have a 28-day cycle, you’ll want to start testing on cycle day 10. (Our instructions include a handy chart so that you don’t have to worry about the math!)
For the majority of women, LH surges in blood between 3 and 8 AM and it can take a few hours for the surge to show in urine. This is why it may be a better idea to use second morning urine after at least a 2-3 hours hold when testing LH.
If you’re using Proov Predict, we typically recommend testing levels twice per day (once in the morning and once in the afternoon), especially as you near your suspected ovulation day. LH surges can be super short, so testing two times per day helps you more accurately catch it!
Proov Predict tests are considered positive when the test line is as dark or darker than the control line. This means LH is surging and you are entering your fertile window (or, as we like to call it, peak fertility).
Proov Predict tests are considered positive when the test line is as dark or darker than the control line.
What should I do once I get a positive ovulation test?
Once you have got your positive ovulation test and have observed peak fertility, you should start having intercourse (if you’re TTC, of course!).
Finally, it’s important to understand that while ovulation tests predict ovulation by detecting an LH surge, they cannot confirm that ovulation did in fact occur. In fact, not every LH surge results in ovulation and sometimes your body may gear up to release the egg, but cannot follow through.
This is why confirming successful ovulation is so important! Which brings us to PdG (progesterone metabolite) tests!
Proov PdG tests are the first and only FDA cleared PdG tests to confirm successful ovulation at home. After progesterone circulates through our blood during the luteal phase, it is metabolized by the liver and released from the body in urine as PdG. Studies show that PdG levels in first morning urine show an average of all serum progesterone levels from the day before.
Our testing protocol recommends testing PdG levels on days 7-10 past peak fertility (i.e. a positive ovulation test) to confirm successful ovulation. We like to see 3-4 positive test results during this window (with a positive on day 10) to ensure ovulation was successful, meaning PdG rose and remained elevated for long enough to allow for the best possible chance at conception.
Without enough PdG following ovulation, it can be more difficult to successfully conceive. In fact, a recent study showed the rates of successful pregnancy go from 19% to 91% when PdG is elevated during that key 7-10 day past peak window vs. when it is low.
Understanding when to test for ovulation and why can help you take control of your reproductive health and get pregnant faster!