Let’s Talk About Ovulation Tests

Having struggled with infertility, I became one of those crazy pee stick ladies. Not just pregnancy tests! Oh no. Ovulation tests, as well. So, when I had the opportunity to test out a slew of Clear Blue Easy ovulation tests, I was super stoked. If you aren’t aware yet, this post is going to venture way over into the TMI territory. You have my full permission to stop reading now if you aren’t into that sort of thing.

Now, for my family and friends, I have to say that this does not mean we are trying to conceive the seventh. I find tracking my cycles to be helpful, no matter what stage of life we are in. My cycles are on the irregular side, so knowing when I ovulate helps me predict when I can expect my cycle so I’m not caught off guard like a sixth grade girl in gym class.

So, for the past three months, I have been testing various ovulation tests. First, I tried out the Clear Blue Easy Fertility Monitor. It is the coveted doodad among the TTC crowd. I have always wanted to try one, but never really could convince myself about the price tag. (Currently $103.69 on Amazon!) (This is NOT an affiliate link.)

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This monitor tells you if your fertility is low, high, or peak. It says low when no surges are detected. It says high when it detects an upswing in your estrogen. And then it tells you peak when it detects the LH surge. Most ovulation tests only test for LH. Since this tests for estrogen, it can tell you that your ovulation day is coming long before the LH surge, which only happens the day (ish) before ovulation. You are most fertile before and during ovulation.

You set up the monitor between days 1 and 4 of your cycle. Buy it on day 6? Too bad! You have to wait until next month (or lie to the computer). It tells you when to test. It may ask you to start testing too soon for a long cycle and you’ll use a lot of unnecessary sticks. It only lets you test once a day in the morning. If it does not ask you to test, you cannot test. It is completely in charge of the tests. So, for me, it tells me to start taking tests on cycle day 6. I obey. On cycle day 13, it gives me a “high” reading. On cycle day 18 and 19, I get a “peak” reading after 5 days of “high” readings. It has me continue testing through cycle day 21. So, that is 16 tests for one month that I needed. You can disobey and not take a test when it tells you to. But you cannot take a test when it doesn’t tell you to. The actual test strips were completely indecipherable to me. From looking at them, I couldn’t tell what the reading should have been. The first day of “high” looked just like the day before of “low”. I couldn’t really track the progress with my eyeballs, only the computer knew. For these reasons, this was actually my LEAST FAVORITE ovulation test I tried. It just took too much of the science out of my hands, which probably appeals to most people, but not to me. However, I can see how it takes so much of the guesswork and the pressure off you as you go through your cycle. So people new to tracking their cycles this way or just tired of staring at lines and thinking about when to test will find this extremely helpful.

The next test I tried was the Clear Blue Easy Advanced Ovulation Test. (Again, I got this item free to review. That link IS NOT an affiliate link.) This one was new to me and I honestly didn’t even know it existed.

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So, with this one, you have a handle that comes in a box with 20 sticks. The sticks look super similar to the Fertility Monitor sticks, but they are not, in fact, the same. Believe me, I tried to use them interchangeably, just to see what would happen. It didn’t work.

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You put the stick into the handle. It only fits one way with the arrows lining up for you. You pee on the absorbent end (or dip it in a cup of pee). The little stick symbol flashes. A few minutes later, it either has a blank circle for “low”, a flashing smiley for “high”, or a solid smiley for “peak”. It does essentially the same as the Fertility Monitor. Measures your estrogen and LH, giving you a much better idea of those fertile days BEFORE you ovulate. Now, looking at these, I can see peak and not peak. I can’t with my eye detect the high reading. I like these MUCH better than the monitor. For one, they are much more affordable. ($35.98 for a 20 pack and the handle right now on Amazon.) For another, they are smart, but not TOO smart. You can still test whenever you want, however you want. It doesn’t record anything for you. I’m currently on month two with the handle and the battery is still fine. So, if you are wanting to go the super fancy digital route, this would be my recommendation. I just like the control so much better. Now, this is still not my favorite. But it is better than the Monitor, in my opinion.

The third ovulation test I tried was the Clear Blue Easy Digital Ovulation Test. (I received these free to review, so again, this is NOT an affiliate link.) Again, you have a handle that is reusable with test sticks that you change out. It came with one handle and 20 test sticks.

wp-1481390724840.jpg(The pink one is the regular digital. The purple is the advanced digital.) Your confused right now, aren’t you? Don’t be. This one ONLY measures LH. You get a smiley or an empty circle. A simple yes or no. Now, the LH surge happens about a day before you ovulate. So, this is giving you a much smaller window. You only see the surge, much like a traditional OPK.

wp-1481390710814.jpgThe test packs color corresponds to the test stick. Purple are advanced. Pink are regular. (And the third is my internet cheapie pack.) I can actually visually confirm the results on this particular test. You see the result digitally. You see the result on the stick in the way you are used to. Kind of a best of both worlds kind of scenario. Price wise, they are currently the same as the Advanced on Amazon, so I am not sure why you’d go with the digital over the advanced digital UNLESS you are one of those people who gets a “high” reading for like, 10 days of the month. That would be annoying. My first cycle with the Advanced, I got 5 days of “high” before seeing “peak”. My second cycle, I got one day of “high” before seeing “peak”. I like these. I think they are a good, quick option. You can pee on the stick or in a cup and dip. That makes them more convenient than the internet cheapie. Plus, you’re not going to get line eyes, because it reads it for you.

wp-1481390733341.jpgThese three tests are all positive OPKs. (A positive OPK is traditionally read as the test line- the first line, which is the right line on the top two and the left line on the bottom one- is as dark or darker than the control line. The top is the advanced stick which said “peak”. The middle test is a regular digital, which had a smiley face. The bottom is a cheap internet test that you use your own eyes to read.)

wp-1481390692658.jpgThat brings me to the fourth ovulation test for comparison. The internet cheapie. (That is an affiliate link, because no one gave me these. I paid a whopping $11.99 on Amazon for 50 ovulation test strips PLUS 20 pregnancy test strips.) These are what I started using when taking OPKs. (OPK stands for ovulation predictor kit, which  generally applies to any ovulation test these days.) On these, you’re using your own eyeballs and your own judgement on if the test is positive or negative. Again, positive means the test line (line closest to the pee) is as dark OR darker than the control line. You’ll see the line get progressively darker as you get closer to ovulation. I usually stop once I hit peak. But if you were to continue, you’d see them then get lighter.

wp-1481390749065.jpgI am a crazy person and keep these tests, so I can see the test progress. Also, you can see that I bust the digital sticks free from their casing to include them in my monthly record. Now, they say not to do this. So, don’t do this. But I do this. They are difficult to see, and if I were going entirely digital, I wouldn’t do this craziness. Also, the Fertility Monitor does keep track for you. And you can use any number of phone apps to keep track of the results. But I like to see the progress. I’m a crazy pee stick person. I told you that I was.

Because I am a crazy pee stick person, the internet cheapie is my favorite. I like to test ovulation twice a day, especially when I am getting closer to it. I like to see the progress of the lines. Now, for these, you do have to pee in a cup and then dip the stick into the cup. You cannot pee directly on these sticks. You’ll pee on the dye line and mess the whole thing up. I’ve done it. Don’t do it. wp-1481393241893.jpgNow, if you’re sitting there thinking, why in the world would I do this unless I am trying to conceive, maybe you want to read Taking Charge of Your Fertility. (Affiliate link. I enthusiastically recommend this book even though I do NOT agree with all it says about the topic of birth control and such. It is extremely helpful in learning to understand your body.) Tracking your monthly cycles can give you insight into your overall health. I like knowing. I am not a temperature taker. I track signs and pee sticks. You may not be that kind of person, and that is okay, too. All OPK companies will tell you not to use OPKs as a means of trying to avoid pregnancy. They’ll tell you not to use them for NFP or FAM purposes. I don’t see why not. It is just one of the many signs, so taken in context of the whole, it can be useful for that purpose, as well.

This was actually a fun experiment for me. If there was a science fair for moms, this would be mine!

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