Ovulation is when a mature egg is released by the ovary into the fallopian tube down to the womb. Approximately every month, an egg will mature in either one of the ovaries. In this phase, the womb lining is thickened to prepare for pregnancy if fertilisation occurs. Therefore, this phase is also known as the ‘fertile phase’. The egg will live for 12-24 hours after being released by the ovary.

A woman’s monthly cycle is measured from the first day of her menstruation until the next cycle of menstruation. Normally, the cycle is around 28-32 days and most women ovulate between day 11 to day 21 of their cycle. There are many ways to track the fertility which include daily tracking resting body temperature (a;so known as the ‘basal body temperature’), vaginal discharge (cervical mucus quality) and using the ovulation test strip.

For body temperature tracking, the body temperature will increase by 0.5 degree Celcius due to the warming effect of the progesterone hormone following ovulation. The vaginal fluid will change to a wet slippery and stretchy texture which resembles the egg white. Both of the signs must be observed and documented everyday which might be a hassle and confusing. Thus the  ovulation test strip can be a useful tool to track your cycle. These kits are affordable and can be purchased over-the-counter or online.

What is the ovulation test strip?

It is a urine-based test to detect an upcoming ovulation. It works by detecting luteinizing hormone (LH) peak which predicts that ovulation will occur within the next 12-36 hours.

When is the best time to use the ovulation test strips?

For women with regular menstrual cycle, her ovulation day is generally on the 14th day of the menstrual cycle but it is best to start using it around day 10 or 11 of the cycle and continue to monitor continuously for 5 days.

For those who have irregular cycle, use the shortest cycle in the recent 6 months and begin testing 3-4 days before the midpoint of the cycle.

In order to conceive, you are advised to have intercourse 2-3 days before and 1-2 days after ovulation.To optimize the result, use the strips every day between 10 am to 8 pm but it is best to test it around the same time every day. Make sure your urine is concentrated enough by avoid peeing an hour prior to test and reduce the amount of fluid intake.

How to interpret the results of the ovulation test strips?

The test paper should be observed within the specified time and will not be effective after 30 minutes. The changes on the test paper are observed according to the instructions attached, and the results are classified into positive, negative and invalid.

  • Positive:

If the ovulation test strip is positive (which is indicated by the presence of TWO bands), it means that you might ovulate at any time within the next 24-48 hours. If conditions permit, you should perform the test every 4 hours using the ovulation test strips, which can accurately capture the time of ovulation.

When the two bands are the boldest in colour, this result indicates that you are at your peak of ovulation and subsequent tests will show that the bands get lighter.

  • Negative:

Only ONE red band appears in the control line area or the test line is shallower than the control line; indicating that there is no ovulation.

If two red bands appear, and the test line is lighter than the control line, this indicates that the LH level in the urine has not peaked and must be tested daily.

If it is consistently negative, check if you are doing it wrongly. You should immerse the end of the test strip fully into your urine sample and remove it after three seconds to leave it for reading after 15 to 20 minutes.

  • Invalid:

No bands appear in the control line area; indicating a test failure or reagent failure.

In this case, the instructions should be read again and retested with new reagent strips.If the problem persists, stop using the product and contact the manufacturer.

How accurate are the ovulation test strip?

Studies suggested that they can detect 97% of ovulation which makes it the most accurate option to monitor fertility. However, bear in mind that it can only give the ideal time to conceive but it does not guarantee a successful conception.

It works best for those with regular cycle and might be less reliable in the case of very irregular menstruation, woman with gynecological disease like Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) or women on hormone pills.

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