With the development of many innovative ways to track fertility through smart phone apps, or the more traditional methods, the world of ovulation prediction may seem overwhelming and daunting. But technology provides another alternative; ovulation predictor kits (OPKs). Today let’s talk about the effectiveness of existing methods in the determination of ovulation!
What are Ovulation Predictor Kits?
Ovulation predictor kits measure the level of luteinizing hormone (LH) in the female body. LH is the last of the different hormones that peaks when ovulation happens. They help identify the best times to conceive and are available over-the-counter, thus making them easily accessible. Providing ‘real-time’ data, the kits will give you the day of ovulation around 12 to 36 hours in advance, with more recent tests available that measure changes in the oestrogen levels in either the saliva or salts in sweat; both of which change during the cycle depending on what is happening.
How effective are they?
OPKs are a great way to measure the surge in production of LH which occurs around 36 hours before ovulation as they are often very accurate. Major brands of OPKs are around 97% accurate in detecting this surge, but with any prediction, the results are guaranteed to be more accurate when used together with a variety of methods.
What are the best alternatives?
There are a few basic alternatives that rely on manual input from women themselves, such as charting their menstrual cycle and measuring their Basal Body Temperature. Similarly, analysing the consistency of the cervix mucus and even watching out for pains on the left side of the body are more obscure different methods. Arguably however, what with the precision of technology, the methods that rely more on smart phone applications, such as the array of fertility tracker apps, or advanced fertility monitors, will provide more accurate tests.
Are there any drawbacks?
As OPKs analyse the levels of LH, it is hard to get entirely reliable results for all women, as some women have underlying and undiagnosed conditions. Examples of these include Luteinized Unruptured Follicle Syndrome that causes a surge in the LH hormone, but doesn’t release an egg, and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). PCOS means women experience small peaks (that are actually incorrect) in the LH hormone before the full peak occurs. This means women will often attempt to conceive before ovulation actually happens. OPKs are also relatively expensive and do not work consistently in women over the age of 40.