This past month on the trying-to-conceive journey, has been interesting. I have gotten to know my body in a very intimate way. I now understand why I do not feel like myself sometimes and never realized how it was all connected to my monthly cycle. The female hormones estrogen and progesterone really run our lives.
Getting to know the physiological me started with ovulation test strips. I started using these because my cycle varies month to month and I have a hard time pinpointing ovulation. Plus, I figured why not get an idea of what I look like in terms of hormones. They are not very expensive at $21.99 per box, which includes 50 LH (ovulation) tests and 20 HCG (pregnancy) tests.
How do ovulation test strips work:
The test works by detecting and measuring luteinizing hormone (LH), which causes your body to release the egg each month–known as ovulation. Your body produces a small amount of LH during your cycle, but your body produces a much higher amount halfway through your cycle. A positive results means you will ovulate in the next three days.
The test line will be the same intensity or a darker shade than the test control line. That indicates you will ovulate in the next 1-3 days, since every woman is different. It also does not necessarily mean you have ovulated. If your body has not released its surge of LH for the cycle, the test line will be a lighter shade than the other line.
There are two types of ovulation tests: test strips that you dip in urine and midstream tests that work similar to a pregnancy test. Most home kits give results in less than 5 minutes. Similar to a pregnancy test, there is a control line to let you know the test worked properly. The control line also gives you the baseline color to interpret the test results.
Here are my results for this month:
Generally, you don’t need to use these until close to your ovulation day, if you know it. Since I did not know when I ovulate, I started the testing 3 days after my period. After combing the internet for other people’s results and reading that it will differ for each women, I realized I should just figure out what is my normal. For example, some women don’t show the faint line until they approach ovulation. That was not the case for me. I show a faint line pretty much the whole time and then the test line darkens when I reach my LH surge.
It was important to me to have a full picture of what is normal for my cycle. I would suggest the same process for your first month of using the strips, especially if you are not at all familiar with them. I can see how getting the faint line would be confusing for a first time user. However, if you track it all the way through 1-2 cycles before trying to conceive, it will be less of a mystery. Also, by tracking early, it is very easy to tell the difference between a low reading and a high reading.
I also tested two times a day in case there was a surge and I may have missed it. I had read that some women miss their surge because it only lasted 12 hours. When I discovered the first dark line, I started testing three times a day. Again, this is my first month experimenting and I wanted to get as full a picture as possible.
The ideal time to test is 10 am and 8 pm. Our bodies do not produce LH in the morning. I tested that theory one morning when I woke up at 6:30 am to go surfing. I got back at 9:30 am and tested again. This time the line was very dark.
I know it seems intimidating if not daunting, but the effort is very minimal. My approach to most things is to research and get familiar with the subject before taking it on. Trying to make our first child is no different to me. I wanted to understand my body better.
In the course of doing this, I understand how the hormonal fluctuations throughout my cycle affects my sleep, energy and moods. I became very aware of where I was in my cycle. I have also learned I only have ten really awesome days during my cycle where my head is clear, my outlook on life is most optimistic, and I am able to accomplish a lot of mental required tasks. The other days in my cycle I have bouts of insomnia, lower back aches for no reason and am very tired.
The pink strips are the ones I recommend: MyBabyTests(TM) 50 (LH) Ovulation Tests + 20 (HCG) Pregnancy 10 MiU Test Strip Combo Pack.
The green strips were ok but not as sensitive and the line never got to the darkness as the control line. They also take 5 minutes longer to get the results.
My plan is to keep using the test strips until we conceive or need to consider other methods of conceiving.