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Ovulation predictor kits: The basics

In your attempt to conceive, you may have turned to the plethora of ovulation predictors and high-tech gadgets available. They range from urine tests that look for hormone changes to mini microscopes for examining your saliva to thermometers and complex charts for tracking your temperature. It can be a vast and confusing marketplace, and choosing which fertility predictor is best for you can be a mind-boggling task. We've analyzed the underlying science behind ovulation prediction methods to highlight the easiest to use, most foolproof kits.

According to the majority of research we found, the most effective tests monitor luteinizing hormone (LH) in urine. A spike in LH is associated with ovulation and is a very effective means of determining when a woman is ovulating. These tests can range from 30 cents to several dollars per test (and most women will need about seven to 10 tests per cycle).

However, LH tests can only determine two days with a high chance of getting pregnant. For those who want more opportunities to conceive, tests that monitor LH and estrogen can predict ovulation about two days in advance, identifying a total of four days with a high chance of conception. Often, these tests are a bit pricier than LH tests.

Urine tests are the most accurate way to track hormones and identify fertility; however, some women may find urine tests unpleasant and choose to use another method like sweat and saliva tests; though, these options require more expensive hardware and may not be quite as accurate.

In addition, some ovulation tests are only effective and reliable for certain populations of women. If a woman's menstrual cycle is very short or very long, if she has polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a thyroid disorder or any ailment that alters her hormones, or if she takes fertility medications, some of the more popular fertility predictors may not work. Lastly, if a woman has been trying to conceive for a while (a year if she's under 35 years of age, less time if she's older or has concerns) without success, it is recommended that she see a doctor. The doctor can help discover any roadblocks that might exist in her reproductive health and provide solutions.

While our report will help you decide on which fertility product to use, it is always best to first consult with your doctor before trying to conceive. A doctor can help you optimize your health before you get pregnant and help you start making important lifestyle changes: quitting smoking, quitting drinking and taking a folic acid supplement, all of which can greatly improve your health and that of your potential baby. If a woman has health problems or is on medications, her doctor can discuss with her what changes may need to occur, as some medications and health problems can be contraindicated with pregnancy. It's also important for male partners to see their doctors to rule out any infertility issues.

In selecting the best ovulation predictor kits, our research began with the large number of scientific studies available on fertility and fertility devices, including studies from the Annals of Pharmacotherapy, the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy, Fertility and Sterility, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Human Reproduction, and Contraception. These papers examine whether particular fertility devices were reliable and accurate at predicting ovulation or helping women to conceive. The studies also detailed how various ovulation predictors fared against traditional methods of detecting ovulation, such as basal body temperature and changes in cervical mucus. In addition to the scientific studies, we found a detailed presentation on fertility monitors from a doctor of pharmacy at the University of Montana and reviews on websites such as JustMommies.com, The Bump, and Sperm Meets Egg Plan. Lastly, user reviews at Amazon.com and Drugstore.com offered some real-world testing experience. We used these reviews to evaluate which tests were accurate and lived up to their claims, easy to understand and easy to use.

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