How to use Ovulation predictor kits (OPKS)
During the very early stages of puberty, you likely had been told by your sex-ed teacher that after getting your period, you must stay protected during intercourse. You will want to do what you can to prevent yourself from contracting an STD as well as getting pregnant. That is why condoms and birth control pills were a must-have when you became sexually active.
You kept up with those tactics to avoid pregnancy during a lot of your adult life as well. However, now that you are ready to conceive, you realize it is not so easy as you had believed it was when you were going through puberty. You have found out the hard way that pregnancy is not natural to attain if you have intercourse during the least fertile times of your cycle (though not impossible since the sperm can live a very long time). The odds, however, are against you for conceiving. It has been taking you longer than you had initially thought it would.
Having an ovulation prediction kit is a must-have for when you are actively trying to conceive. If you use the prediction kit the right way, you will know when you are close to ovulating. That is when you are the most fertile in your cycle, which means this is the best time to conceive.
What Exactly Is Ovulation?
When your ovaries are releasing at least one egg, that is ovulation. Every month about 15 to 20 eggs grow in your ovaries. When it is the right time, at least one is sent out into the pelvic area and falls right into the fallopian tube. That is where it waits for the sperm for fertilization.
The egg is only viable 12 to 24 hours once it has been released. You want to have intercourse before the egg is released, so the sperm is right at the fallopian tube, waiting for the egg to come right out immediately. If you have intercourse after ovulating and not at all before, then there is a higher chance that you will not get pregnant due to the egg being less viable. It is important to have intercourse before you ovulate.
How Long Before Ovulation Should Intercourse Happen?
It was already mentioned that sperm could stay in your reproductive system for days. The average healthy sperm can stay in your system for about five days. The odd time, however, it can be longer. It is also important to realize that the healthiest sperm that has good motility, meaning it can swim quickly in a straight line, will be the sperm that will hang out in your system to wait for an egg that is ready to be released.
Now that you know that the average healthy sperm can stay in your system for about five days, the best time to start trying for a baby is around six days before you ovulate. You will want to have sex every 2 to 3 days within that 6-day window. You don't want to have sex daily due to the fact it could deplete your man's reserves, which will defeat the purpose as well.
However, just be very careful. If you get too nit-picky as well, you and your partner will see sex as a chore. What this boils down to is not to avoid having sex during your least fertile times. If you look at it as a way to stay connected to your partner instead of only for conception, then you will be more relaxed. That means go and have a romp under the sheets after Aunt Flo is finished with her visit. Go and have a romp under the sheets when you are well into your luteal phase. Those are the times to do it for enjoyment.
Remember as well that being too stressed out over getting pregnant will also put a strain on your body as well as your man's body. That will become a hindrance. You want to have fun during other times of your cycle as well. You have to find that balance between having sex for enjoyment and having sex to create a new life. Ovulation kits can be beneficial to you.
What Are Ovulation Kits And How Can They Really Help?
Ovulation predictor kits, or OPKs, as they are also referred to as, are meant to help you know when your fertile time frame is in your cycle. However, as it was mentioned before, you don't only want to have sex during that fertile time of your period, or else it won't be enjoyable. Therefore, don't let OPKs determine when you should or should not have sex. They are useful in some situations, however. Those situations may be when:
Your partner has an irregular work schedule or works overtime often. Therefore, he is not at home regularly. If the OPK signals to you that ovulation is nearing, then that is the time to ask him to work around his schedule so as not to miss that window.
Both of you are busy, which means your time is limited. You may have crazy work schedules, or have other kids to manage. The OPK will let you know when that critical window is coming up so you and your partner can make time to use it well.
For women that have cycles that are not regular, which makes it hard to determine when ovulation happens. OPKs will indicate when the fertile time is coming up for those who have periods that are not regular.
There are other methods to determine when you are ovulating. You can take your body basal temperature each morning (which can be a chore in itself). You can also check your cervical mucus texture. If there is an abundant amount of cervical mucus, and it has the appearance of egg whites, that is another sign that you are in your fertile window. Using OPKs in addition to that will help you pinpoint your fertile time even more.
However, women that have cycles that are not regular will have difficulty with the basal body temperature method due to the lack of accuracy. OPKs are an excellent option for them.
OPKs are a fast, accurate, easy, and hassle-free way of finding out when you are the most fertile in your cycle. You can find out when you are fertile the first month you use them, unlike relying on the body basal temperature method. You need to take your temperature for three months to determine when you are fertile based on when the temperature begins to rise after ovulation.
You can find OPKs in drugstores as well as supermarkets. They are in the same area as pregnancy tests. You can find them online as well.
How Do Ovulation Prediction Kits Work?
There are two types of OPKs. There is the urine-based OPK, as well as the salivary ferning OPK. The urine-based OPK measures your luteinizing hormone (LH), which is released about 48-72 hours before you ovulate. There is always a little bit of that hormone present in your urine, as well as your blood. However, just days before you ovulate, the LH levels increase about 2 to 5 times, which is known as the LH surge. The OPK will detect that, and from 12 to 36 hours before ovulation is the time of your cycle, that is the most fertile. That means you are highly likely to conceive at that time.
The salivary ferning OPK works differently than the urine-based one. This type of OPK is a portable microscope that fits in your pocket. You test your saliva with it. This OPK does not measure your LH levels. Instead, it checks the levels of estrogen in your saliva. As that hormone rises, the salt content in your saliva does as well. As the salt dries, it begins to crystalize, and the shape it creates is like a fern. When you see the fern-like pattern created by your dried saliva, this is indicative that ovulation is on its way.
Which OPK Is Right For Me And How Do You Use Them?
The type of OPK that you want to use is up to you. However, there are several things you will need to be aware of before you make a choice, which will be discussed later on. The first OPK kit to go over is the urine-based one. You need to either pee in a cup or hold a stick underneath the urine stream. Test cards will feature either colored bands or a stick that appears if an LH surge is on its way.
There are also digital OPKs that may use smiley faces to indicate that an LH surge is happening. Either way, the instructions for using the urine-based kits are simple. Depending on the brand you get, the instructions may vary somewhat.
The best time to collect urine is from 10 am to 8 pm, but the optimal time to test urine is from 2 to 2:30 pm. Whichever time you decide to use the OPK, be sure to keep that time consistent. You do not want to use the test right after waking up, as it will be straightforward to miss the LH surge at that point. You want to limit the fluids you drink for about 2 hours before you take the test to get the most accurate result. If you drink too much liquid, your urine will be diluted, and you will not get the correct result.
Be sure to read the results within 10 minutes of taking the test, or else you will miss the results. If you leave the test out for too long, a faint line could appear, which is due to evaporation and not due to a positive LH surge. Be sure to discard the test after it has been used immediately. Urine-based OPKs come with 5 to 9 days worth of tests, which is plenty for a cycle to test.
The salivary ferning OPKs are slightly easier to use. All you need to do is first thing in the morning, before eating and drinking anything is to put a small amount of saliva on your finger. Don't put a lot on and make sure there are no bubbles. Put it on the slide and allow it to dry. Once it has dried, then you can use the microscope to determine whether or not there has been any ferning.
Before assuming when to use these kits, you will need to know the overall length of your cycle. Then use the ovulation calculator to learn when the fertile time of your period likely happens to be.
Other Important Things To Know About Ovulation Prediction Kits
As it was said before, the type of OPK you prefer to use is up to you. However, if you are on fertility drugs that contain the pregnancy hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin, this will alter your LH surge results. Therefore, they will not be accurate. If you are on Clomid, this could change your test results if you are using the salivary ferning OPKs. If your eyesight is weak, then it will be hard for you to see the results of the salivary ferning tests.
The urine-based OPKs are a little more accurate than salivary ferning OPKs. However, even with urine-based OPKs, false LH surges can happen, which means the hormone increases, but the egg is not released. Even with the surge, you will not always ovulate. Occasionally, false LH surges can happen before the real one does, so always keep that in mind as well.
Are Ovulation Prediction Kits Expensive?
The typical urine-based OPKs run from $20 to $50. Your budget will determine the type you wish to purchase. Don't think that the more expensive OPK brands are more reliable than the lesser expensive ones.
The salivary ferning tests are more costly because you need a microscope. However, you can keep the microscope for a long time, and you can reuse it as a result. If it takes you more than two years to conceive, you will need to replace it with another kit.
All kits come with their FAQs and set of instructions. It is essential to realize that once the LH surge is detected that you can stop using more tests for the rest of the cycle. Continuing to use more will use them up quickly and cost you more in the long run if you need to invest in more.
If you are looking to conceive very soon, at least now you know of another tool to help you determine when you are ovulating.