How to know when to take an ovulation test
Know when you’re ovulating and when it’s time to start baby-making
Ovulation typically occurs halfway through a menstrual cycle.
Once you see a positive result or a darker color than the control line, you and your partner will know it’s time to get busy.
If you are trying to conceive, also known as TTC in the baby-making biz, ovulation can seem like an overwhelming phenomenon. When you’re trying to get pregnant, knowing when you’re ovulating can really help your chances of success.
While it is usually pretty obvious when a menstrual cycle is starting, it can be harder to tell when you’re ovulating if you don’t know what to look for.
This guide will go over how ovulation works, how to take an ovulation test at home, and how they can help you conceive your precious little bundle.
When do you ovulate?
Ovulation typically occurs halfway through a menstrual cycle. This will usually be around the 14th day of a 28-day cycle starting from the first day of a period to the first day of your next.
Let’s say you started your period on the 1st of the month. If your cycle is 28-days long, you can expect to ovulate around the 14th of the month. It’s important to note, however, that every woman is different and cycle length can vary. A normal range can be anywhere from 23 to 35 days.
Before you start trying to conceive, it can be really helpful to track your cycle length. There are a number of apps out there that can help you do this. While you’re tracking you can also look for changes in your cervical mucus and your basal body temperature to know when ovulation is near.
During ovulation, an egg is released from an ovary. Ovulation lasts between 12 and 24 hours. This is how long the egg is viable. During this time your cervical mucus will be an egg-white consistency.
How do ovulation tests work?
An ovulation test works by detecting the level of the luteinizing hormone or LH in your urine. As you near ovulation, your levels of LH will spike and push the egg towards maturity. The spike is also known as the LH surge. Ovulation will typically occur around 36 hours after the surge.
When you take an ovulation test, it will start to show when your LH levels are rising. Most over the counter kits will show a darkening line as you near the LH surge. Once you see a positive result or a darker color than the control line, you and your partner will know it’s time to get busy.
Depending on the type, there will usually be anywhere from five to 25 ovulation test strips in the kit. While some kits have you start testing as soon as you get your period, others will have you start a couple of days before you think you will start ovulating.
What to do when you have a positive ovulation test
Once you test positive for an LH surge on an ovulation test, you can expect ovulation to occur within the next 12 to 36 hours. After a practice month of testing, you’ll start to notice how the color of the line gets darker as you near a surge. You can start to have sex around this time to increase your chances of getting pregnant.
In order to conceive, an egg needs to be fertilized by sperm within 12 to 24 hours. Thankfully, sperm can live in the fallopian tubes waiting for an egg for several days. This is why it’s important to have sex a few days before you ovulate.
By having sex when you see a surge in LH, you’ll increase your chances of having sperm there ready to meet the egg when it drops during ovulation. If you didn’t have sex before you ovulated, your egg can still be viable if it meets the sperm up to 24 hours after it is released.
Throughout the baby-making process, just remember to be patient, listen to your body, and have fun with your partner while you try.
A deeper dive — Related reading from the 101:
- The true amount of time women need to recover after giving birth | Living 101 Pregnancy is a magical and beautiful process. However, there’s no denying the physical toll it has on the body.
- What nobody tells you about pregnancy | Living 101 There are so many changes and experiences that happen during pregnancy and birth that people (even expecting mothers!) don’t know about.