Tools for Pinpointing Ovulation
Trying to conceive can feel like a test of your time keeping skills. There is only a certain period each month a woman can conceive. That fertile window is around the time a woman ovulates. Determining the date that you are most likely to ovulate should be top priority on your TTC checklist. Now, how can you track ovulation and what can you use to track ovulation?
There are quite a few different tools for tracking ovulation; below we discuss what they are and the differences between them.
If you want to try for a baby and have a regular monthly cycle, you might consider using one of the natural family planning methods (NFP methods), which help women naturally follow their fertility cycles and signs of ovulation. We understand that not every woman has a regular cycle, in fact many women experience irregular or very short or extended cycles. These cycles aren’t ideal for accurately tracking ovulation through NFP methods.
The good news is that NFP methods aren’t the only ovulation tracking options out there today! For women who may be uncomfortable using NFP methods or would like to add to the methods they’re already using, we listed four fertility-tracking tools below to explore. These options are available over the counter in your local pharmacies.
Ovulation Predictor Kits
Ovulation predictor kits or “OPKs” are similar to pregnancy tests in their design. The difference between the two are that they track different hormones. A pregnancy test detects the hCG hormone while OPKs look for the luteinizing hormone. Although this hormone is constantly in a woman’s body, several days just before ovulation the luteinizing hormone spikes. When a test reads positive, you will know that one of your ovaries will be releasing an egg with the one to two days.
While OPKs can aid women that are having trouble or are uncomfortable with using NFP methods, the cost of these kits can add up quickly when you use them month after month. When using OPKS, you’ll need to estimate your ovulation time period based on past months. If you happen to have a regular cycle, then daily use of OPKs should not be necessary. Testing around the middle of your cycle is recommended to begin narrowing down your fertile window days. Daily use of OPKs may not be necessary for women with very regular cycles, however for those who have an irregular cycle, daily use may be the most efficient way to accurately track if you want to use this tool. If you do consider using OPKs, they are available at drugstores, some convenient stores, also online and chemist and supermarkets like Walgreens and Rite Aid.
Ovulation Strips have a lot in common with OPKs in that they are easy to access over the counter at virtually any convenient or drugstore, and they detect the luteinizing hormone to help you determine your ovulation date and fertile window. What really separates the two is that a pack of ovulation tests strips allows a woman to track her ovulation for a whole month. This helps eliminate any guessing to close in on finding a woman’s fertile window more precisely.
One month’s supply of these strips only cost around $20 when you purchase them online or in the store. This may seem to be the most cost efficient option especially for those who have irregular cycles and would need to test daily for ovulation. Ovulation test strips may be low cost, however they aren’t always the most accurate due to an inability to follow the directions for use correctly, which can easily skew the test result for that day.
Fertility monitors help the process of tracking ovulation along by detecting both the luteinizing and the oestrogen hormone levels. There are two main parts of these non-invasive devices: disposable urine test sticks, and a hand-held monitor that reads and gives you the result of your test. When monitors are used regularly, it can give you more insight on the changes in the hormones that control and impact your fertility. Fertility monitors not only detect two types of reproductive hormone levels, they also keep data from past months to help you determine changes in hormones at certain times of your cycle.
For the purpose of learning more about your own monthly cycles and fertility patterns, fertility monitors can be a great solution. These devices have been noted to be more convenient than other forms of tracking like basal body temperature charting or checking cervical mucous. Some prefer to use fertility monitors in combination with natural fertility awareness methods to optimize ovulation timing accuracy. There are many monitors on the market to choose from. They come in different shapes, sizes, colors and price ranges. Fertility monitors claim to be very accurate, and they provide un-obscured results. This being said, they are expensive, ranging in prices from $100 to over $300.
Ovulation Tracking Apps
If you weren’t aware by now, there is an app for just about everything today and ovulation apps are no stranger to the digital app world. There are several apps that are designed to help you track your fertility cycle and to predict when your fertile window will be for months to come. These apps are not all the same as they all pick up on different things depending on which one you use.
With these apps, depending on which one you choose, you can:
- Record dates of ovulation, menstruation, basal body temperature
- Keep track of which days you engaged in intercourse
- Record all symptoms throughout your cycle, including, soreness of breasts, moods, weight etc.
- Make data graphs or charts and print or email for personal use or to share with your doctor(s).
Although using apps to track ovulation may not be as accurate as some other methods, they are convenient for those wanting to become parents that prefer having all of their TTC planning information in one central place. If you aren’t sure which app to try out first, here are some that are recommended by MedicalDaily.com or Parents.com. We like OVIA by Ovuline.