tests can help women track fertility
An ovulation test can be a helpful tool for any woman who's trying to
conceive. Most ovulation tests work by detecting LH, or luteinizing hormone, in
a woman's urine. LH typically surges one to two days before an egg is released.
Women can significantly boost their chances of conception by having sexual intercourse
in that window of time. These tests typically work much like pregnancy tests,
returning results within a few minutes. They're generally quite reliable,
though sometimes results are hard to read.
Yet another category of ovulation kits, the ovulation microscope,
analyzes saliva instead of urine, looking for a distinctive "ferning" pattern
that appears because of a rise in estrogen before ovulation. Unlike most
urine-based tests, ovulation microscopes are reusable, and likely much cheaper
over time. Some women aren't sold on their reliability, though.
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The (Est. $30 for 20 tests) is a bit pricey, but
reviewers say that you get what you pay for: In this case, a reliable
urine-based ovulation kit that requires little guesswork to interpret results.
Clearblue says the test is 99 percent accurate in detecting your LH surge. Most
reviewers are pleased with accuracy, though a minority say the test never detected their surge.
Reviewers say the Clearblue test is among the easiest-to-use ovulation
kits on the market, because you can test any time of day. The test strip clicks
into the included reusable test holder, and a digital display shows "test
ready." Then you point the test stick downward in your urine stream for five to
seven seconds. Within three minutes, the display will show a blank circle or a
smiley face. If you see a smiley face, the test has detected your LH surge. If
not, you use another test at the same time next day, continuing until you see
the smiley. Tests are packaged individually, so they can be used in subsequent
months as long as they aren't expired.
Some users say the test's digital display gives them error messages.
Clearblue actively responds to reviewer complaints on Amazon, an indication
that customer service is reliable.
The (Est. $13 for seven tests) is a more basic urine test than the Clearblue Digital Ovulation
Test. It also comes with a pregnancy test, which reviewers say is a nice bonus.
Like Clearblue, First Response says this ovulation kit is more than 99 percent
accurate in detecting your LH surge, and most reviewers are happy with
Like the Clearblue test, you can test any time of day; however, unlike
the Clearblue test, this First Response test does not have a digital display.
(Note that First Response does sell a Daily Digital Ovulation Test kit that is
not well-reviewed.) After pointing the absorbent tip
downward in your urine stream for five seconds, you must wait five minutes to
read the two-line results. For a positive result, the test line has to be
similar to or darker than the reference line. If it's lighter or there is no
test line, the test is negative, and you should continue with daily testing.
Tests are packaged individually, so they can be used in subsequent months as
long as they aren't expired.
While most users say the First Response test is easier to interpret than
cheaper ovulation strips, some reviewers still say it's still tricky to tell
when the test line is as dark or darker than the reference line. Those who've
used the tests for a while say this does get easier with time.
If you don't want to pay for disposable ovulation tests month in and
month out, the (Est. $35) could be a cost-effective alternative. Housed in a metal tube
roughly the size of a lipstick, it detects a "ferning" pattern in women's
saliva that appears three to five days before ovulation. The test is supposed
to be 98 percent accurate, but reviewers are clearly divided on whether it
worked for them -- some like it better than urine-based tests, while others say
it's not reliable.
Fertile Focus recommends testing each day after waking and before
eating, drinking or brushing teeth. You put a drop of saliva on the microscope
lens, let it dry for five minutes, and place the lens back in the microscope.
You then push a light button on the microscope as you look into the lens,
rotating it to focus. A lot of crystalline-like "ferning" indicates ovulation
in the next five days; dots and lines or no discernable pattern mean no
Reviewers like that the test is portable and reusable, and some like
that they are notified of impending ovulation sooner than with urine tests (up
to five days compared with two days). However, many say they never saw the
ferning, even when urine tests indicated impending ovulation. Several also say
the microscope is flimsy and hard to focus.
If you're willing to invest a little more money to track your fertility,
the touchscreen Clearblue Fertility Monitor (Est. $111) helps identify a longer
fertile window (two peak days plus up to four high-fertility days) than most
urine-based ovulation kits, which users appreciate. It tracks both estrogen and
LH, storing up to six cycles' worth of data. The company says it increases your
chances of pregnancy by 82 percent in the first cycle of use and detects
ovulation 97 percent of the time. Most reviewers are happy with the monitor's
accuracy, though some say other tracking methods were better, especially for
women with very long menstrual cycles (Clearblue only recommends the monitor
for women with cycles between 21 and 42 days).
To use the monitor, you'll also need disposable (Est. $45 for 30). Clearblue recommends
testing with first morning urine. Like other urine-based tests, you hold the
test stick downward in your urine stream for three seconds. After capping it,
you insert it into the monitor, which takes up to five minutes to return a result:
low fertility, high fertility or peak fertility. Most women need to use 10 test
sticks per month, but those with cycles over 35 days may need 20. Test sticks
are packaged individually, so they can be used in subsequent months as long as
they aren't expired.
Reviewers say the Clearblue Fertility Monitor can be a good choice for
those who have less predictable cycles since it learns from past data. However,
as many note, it's pricey, and some reviewers say they had problems with error
ovulation test strips
Ovulation test strips detect LH, just like most other ovulation kits.
There are some differences, however: They are smaller and flimsier than more
expensive tests that typically have a plastic holder. For that reason, you must
dip ovulation test strips into a urine sample instead of using them midstream.
Many women prefer ovulation strips because they are far cheaper than
other ovulation tests. This can be critical for women who have irregular
menstrual cycles and may need to test more often. However, most users caution
that it can be hard to interpret the results on an ovulation test strip, which
requires a test line to be as dark or darker than a control line.
(Est. $17 for 50 tests) have
earned a reputation as one of the most trusted ovulation test strips on the
market. Reviewers love the value for their money, and the 99 percent accuracy
rate is the same as pricier ovulation tests. Most women who've used Wondfo test
strips are happy with the accuracy, saying they stack up to more well-known brands.
Wondfo test strips work a bit differently than ovulation kits with a
plastic holder that can be held under your urine stream. They still test for
the same LH hormone, but you must collect a urine sample in a cup, then dip one of the strips in the sample for three seconds.
Results should be read after five minutes. Like all ovulation test strips,
reviewers caution that there is a learning curve to interpreting the results.
The test line must be as dark or darker than the control line to indicate
impending ovulation, and some women say it takes practice to confidently spot a
positive test. Many women save multiple days of test strips in order to compare
results. Tests are individually packaged, so they can be used from month to
month as long as they aren't expired.
Other than sometimes being tricky to use, one complaint about Wondfos is
that knock-offs are common. Several Amazon reviewers say they received faulty
test strips with green tips that were packaged without the Wondfo logo. Wondfo
cautions that authentic tests come in blue packaging with the Wondfo logo, and
the strips themselves always have blue tips. Other users have complained that
they received expired or almost-expired test strips.
Women who would be comfortable with a more recognizable name might want
to check out the Answer Daily Ovulation Tracker (Est. $17 for 20 tests) test strips. Answer says the test strips are more than 99 percent accurate at
detecting an LH surge.
Answer's ovulation test strips work similarly to the Wondfo brand. After
collecting a urine sample, you'll dip the strip in and wait a certain time for
two lines to appear. The test line has to be as dark or darker than the control
line for the test to be positive, indicating ovulation within the next two
days. Again, reviewers say interpreting the lines can be hard for unpracticed
Ease of use aside, one complaint with the Answer strips
is that they aren't packaged individually like Wondfo strips, instead
coming in one canister. Once you open the canister, you must use all of the
tests within a month. For women who ovulate early in their cycle and don't need
to continue testing every day, this can be a big waste.
Fertility charting makes it possible to track ovulation without spending
money on ovulation tests. Charting involves recording your basal body
temperature, or BBT, each morning immediately after waking, and as close to the
same time as possible each day. BBT spikes up to 1 degree
after ovulation, remaining high until your period, when it falls again. When you chart, you also need to pay attention to changes in cervical mucus:
When it becomes thick and stretchy like egg whites, it's a strong sign of
impending ovulation. Many women chart these fertility signs in order to speed
conception, but others use them to avoid pregnancy, too.
Ovulation or fertility tracking apps give you a convenient place to
record this information, detect patterns in your menstrual cycle and predict
future cycles with greater confidence. Most of these apps are free, and many
have community forums where you can talk to other women who are hoping to
conceive. While some apps guess a window of time when you may ovulate, they can
only do this based on the data you provide and may not be accurate. For this
reason, some women use apps in combination with ovulation kits.
Despite an influx of slick new apps, many reviewers say they're sticking
with the tried-and-true Fertility Friend, which claims to have helped
more than 650,000 women conceive. Available for iOS and Android, this app was
one of the first to take fertility charting mobile, and it remains one of the
most detailed ways for women to record fertility signs.
Fertility Friend allows you to record several fertility signs, including
BBT, cervical fluid and cervical position. You can also note your mood, input
information from ovulation tests, record days you had intercourse, and so on.
The data combines to show a visual chart of your cycle that helps confirm
ovulation. While entering data is easy, women who are unfamiliar with fertility
charting might need to study up before beginning (Fertility Friend does offer a
free charting course upon sign-up). Users can also search for charts of women
who may have similar fertility issues -- for instance, a recent miscarriage or
long, annovulatory cycles.
Fertility Friend is free, but you can sign up for a VIP membership (Est.
$16.95 for 90 days) that allows access to premium features such as detailed
chart interpretation and a daily fertility analyzer. While some reviewers say
the app looks dated (Danielle Stratford of Appleseed Fertility calls it "just
plain ugly"), most agree it's one of the most detailed ways to chart fertility
Women who want a more modern spin on charting can record fertility signs
with Kindara (free). Available for iOS
and Android, Kindara also takes charting into the wireless age by syncing via
Bluetooth with the Kindara Wink App-Integrated Fertility Thermometer (Est. $129) for easier recording.
With Kindara, you record information similar to the data logged in
Fertility Friend: BBT, cervical fluid and position, ovulation test results,
your period and so on. It also combines this information into a visual chart,
though Stratford says the way it's presented may throw off some veteran
charters. As with Fertility Friend, you can search others' charts. You can also
follow other users.
Like Fertility Friend, Kindara has a premium option (Est. $4.99 a month)
that adds additional features, including the ability to create and join private
groups and direct message other users.
It gets rave reviews for accuracy, and many say its interface is much
more modern-looking and simple to use than Fertility
Friend's. However, when it comes to "features, data, and analytics options for
diehard charters," it falls short of its rival, Stratford says.
Reviewers say Ovia (free) is a more
beginner-friendly introduction to fertility tracking. The app, available for
iOS and Android, analyzes your fertility data and spits out personalized
recommendations based on what has worked for other users in similar situations.
It assigns a daily fertility score that helps give users a quick snapshot of
their chances of success.
Just like Fertility Friend and Kindara, Ovia tracks BBT, cervical fluid
and position, ovulation tests and other data such as mood. It even integrates
with popular fitness trackers and apps such as Fitbit and MyFitnessPal to
record health data. The resulting chart, however, is not as detailed as
Fertility Friend's or Kindara's, trading some data for the "fertility score"
Ovia lacks a premium version, but there is a companion
pregnancy-tracking app for expectant mothers, and a parenting app for once baby
is here. Overall, reviewers like the app's bright, modern interface, but some
say it might oversimplify things for women who are experienced at fertility
charting. The fertility score in particular could be "very patronizing" for
these women, Stratford says.
Expert & User Review Sources
There are few expert reviews of ovulation tests, fertility monitors,
ovulation test strips and apps, and those we found tend to be limited in scope
and don't involve hands-on testing. Still, roundups from sources such as The Bump, PregPrep, Fit Pregnancy and Healthline were
helpful in narrowing the field. Detailed reviews of ovulation apps from Appleseed Fertility and The Nightlight were also extremely helpful in that
category. Most useful, however, were user reviews of ovulation kits that came
from sources such as Amazon and Walmart.