How ovulation tests work: how many days does it test positive, what is the best time, what happens if it always tests negative …

Home ovulation tests are one more tool that women who want to become pregnant can use, as they help predict the days of the cycle on which they are most likely to conceive. However, in order to get the most out of them, it is advisable to know how they work and how to use them correctly.

What are ovulation tests done for?

The menstrual cycle of women lasts about 28 days, but not all women do the same, nor do all the months have cycles of the same length. Therefore, even if we know that the five most fertile days are those before and after ovulation – that is, in a regular cycle of 28 days between days 10-16 more or less – if we do not know exactly when this occurs, We will not know exactly when those most fertile days occur.

Ovulation tests do not help to predict what those days will be, and for this it measures the highest level of luteinizing hormone (LH) in the urine. This hormone is responsible for ordering the ovary to release the ovum, and when it is at its peak, ovulation will take place between 12 and 48 hours, at which time the woman will have a better chance of becoming pregnant. .

There are other signs that can also help to intuit the most fertile time, such as basal temperature or observation of cervical mucus, but the detection of LH is more accurate.

How is it used and how many days does it test positive?

Depending on the average length of your cycles, ovulation tests should start at one point or another. Thus, for example, if the usual cycle is about 28 days, the test should begin on day 11 of the cycle (day 1 is the day on which menstruation begins), that is, about three days before expected to be ovulation. The normal thing is that the highest level of LH is not detected in the first days and that it has to be repeated until it tests positive. Although it can test positive for more than one day, once this peak is detected, we no longer have to repeat it, because it only occurs once each cycle. Depending on the type of test, this peak manifests itself in one way or another. Those with test strips with the appearance of the typical two lines and the digital ones with an icon.

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What if it doesn’t test positive at any point in the cycle?

This can happen because in many women it is not easy to find this hormonal peak, because it is very brief and only lasts a few hours. If we perform the test once a day, which is also what is recommended, that peak may ‘escape us’. It does not mean that it did not take place, but that when we have taken the test the moment had already passed. If this happens several cycles in a row, the possibility of doing more than one test a day or going to the doctor to rule out that we have an anovulation problem can be considered.

Can they give false positives or false negatives?

A test can result in a false negative if the test is not performed correctly or if the sensitivity of the test is very low. The false positives thing is less likely, but Yes, it may be the case that the test is positive, that is, a high LH peak is detected, but ovulation does not take place. This can occur, for example, in women with a polycystic or multifollicular ovary (who usually always have elevated LH) or in women over 40 years of age.

That being said, it is important to remember that Ovulation tests are not infallible and do not confirm that there is ovulation, but that the hormone that acts to make it occur is at its highest point and that ovulation, if it occurs, will do so within 24 to 48 hours.

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A woman is waiting to know the result of a pregnancy test.

What can we do to make them more reliable?

The most important thing is that we strictly follow the indications of the test. To do this, we can also follow some recommendations:

• Take the test at the same time every day. The first in the morning is not recommended.

• Do not urinate in the 4 hours prior to the test.

• You don’t drink a lot of fluids before so that the urine does not come out too dilute or give false negatives.

• If a month does not give any positive, the next repeat it twice a day and / or start one or two days before.

• Complement it with the observation of cervical mucus and basal temperature.

It is also important that using it does not cause you anxiety. The fact that it is recommended to have sex on the same day of the positive and in the following two days can lead to anxiety, friction in the couple, etc. If this happens, it is better to use them, because Ovulation tests should be a supportive tool, not a stressor for the woman or her partner.

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