Ovulation kits

How ovulation prediction test kits can help you get pregnant

What is an ovulation testing kit?

These clever kits (sometimes called ovulation prediction kits or OPKs) are easy to use, and take some of the guesswork out of trying for a baby. They give nature a helping hand, by testing hormone levels in your urine. This gives you a shortcut to finding your fertile ‘window’, to maximise your chances of getting pregnant. Then you can head to the bedroom, knowing you’re at your most fertile.

I’ve heard you can test your saliva, too?

As well as kits to test your urine, you can also get salivary ferning kits. They test your saliva to see if you have a higher level of salt, which goes hand in hand with an increase in oestrogen. When the salt dries, it crystallises into a pattern that looks like a fern. Kits that test your urine are thought to be more accurate.  

How do ovulation prediction testing kits work?

They test your urine for a sharp increase (or surge) in luteinising hormone (LH), which happens a day or two before ovulation. This helps you plan your baby-making, so you don’t accidentally miss your most fertile days.   You always have a small amount of LH in your blood and urine, but one or two days before ovulation, it will surge by up to five times the amount. You’re most fertile 12 to 36 hours between the start of the LH surge, and the time when your egg is released. That’s your fertile window, and it’s the best time to have sex when you’re trying for a baby.

Are they right for me?

  • Many women will get pregnant on their own (with a little help from their partners, of course!) but ovulation prediction kits are especially helpful if:
  • You have irregular periods, which can make it harder to predict your fertile days
  • You or your partner work away a lot, meaning regular sex is more difficult
  • You have particularly busy schedules, or already have children
  • You have been trying for a while, but haven’t fallen pregnant
  • You want to speed up the process  

The kits are simple, and quick, and much easier than monitoring your basal body temperature or changes in your cervical mucus.

Where can I buy an ovulation test kit?

You can buy the kits online, at many chemists and supermarkets, and you don’t need a prescription. You’ll probably find them near the pregnancy tests. They cost from about £10 for a basic kit, but you can spend more on a high-tech digital tester.  

How do I use them?

Firstly, use our ovulation calculator to help you work out when your fertile window is likely to start. There’ll be detailed instructions in your kit, but our general guidelines will let you know what to expect.  

Either hold a stick in your urine stream as you wee, or collect your wee in a cup, depending on the brand. You’ll see coloured bands appearing on the test card or stick which show you if the LH urge is happening or not. If you’ve opted for the more expensive digital kits, a smiley face will show up on your most fertile days.  

It’s best to do the test at the same time each day, between 10am and 8pm. Don’t test as soon as you wake up, as the surge in LH can take up to four hours to show up in your urine. Try not to drink much for a couple of hours before testing, as extra liquid could make it more difficult to detect that all-important surge.

You’ll probably be keen to see the result as soon as possible, which is good, as the best time to read it is within ten minutes. If you see a positive result, you’re good to go: having sex in the next two days will maximise your chance of conceiving.  

Anything else I need to know?

These tests aren’t suitable if you’ve recently been pregnant, have polycystic ovarian syndrome, or take certain fertility drugs. If you’re not sure, check with your pharmacist before you buy. 

It seems a bit clinical – is it worth the effort?

All this talk of testing isn’t exactly sexy, but if it cuts down on the time it takes to meet your baby, it could be well worth it. Like any home tests, they aren’t fool proof, but the science is all there, so it could speed things up a bit. 

More information about ovulation