Ovulation Predictor Kits Overview

Why use the natural fertility awareness method rather than an ovulation predictor kit?

Question:

There's no question that with the advent of the ovulation predictor kits (OPK) many women have been able to achieve pregnancy, either through timing intercourse appropriately, or through one of the high tech procedures that require an OPK to help with timing the various steps.

While ovulation predictor kits can, in fact, be quite useful, you should know that your own body usually provides you with as much valuable information as the kits, with less hassle and certainly at less cost.

If you do choose to use the kits, either exclusively or with fertility awareness, you should be aware that they can be misleading for the following reasons:

  • The kits only test for the occurrence of the luteinizing hormone (LH) surge, which precedes ovulation. They don't indicate whether the woman has definitively ovulated afterward. In fact, women may occasionally experience a condition called LUFS (Luteinized Unruptured Follicle Syndrome) in which she has an LH surge but the egg never actually pops out of the ovary.
  • A woman may experience false LH surges in which she has mini-peaks of LH before the real one, causing her to potentially time intercourse too early for the sperm to survive long enough for the release of the egg.
  • The kit does not indicate whether the woman has suitable cervical fluid to allow sperm a medium in which to travel to the egg. In addition, by the time the kit does show a surge, the cervical fluid could already be starting to dry up.
  • The kits themselves are only as accurate as the individual using them. Some have many steps involved, any one of which can be performed improperly, rendering the test invalid. In addition, their accuracy can be compromised if exposed to excessive heat during delivery and storage.
  • The kits are only accurate if they test a woman's fertility right around the time of ovulation. This is a very significant point, because often the woman who purchase them are those who, by definition, have irregular cycles. Therefore, the typical kit, which has only five to nine days worth of tests, will often not have enough to cover the range necessary for her to determine ovulation, thus making it appear as if she is not ovulating. Of course, if you are independently wealthy and have about $40 to spend every five days, then it's no problem. But for many women, it is a relevant issue. Women with irregular or long cycles should not start testing their urine until they notice their cervical fluid start to get wet, so as to test at the most appropriate time around ovulation.
  • Some fertility drugs, such as Pergonal, Danocrine, or injections containing hCG (e.g. PA.P.L. or Profasi) can invalidate the results of these kits. Clomid does not have this effect.
  • Women over 40 and approaching menopause can have elevated levels of luteinizing hormone, which are not indicative of ovulation.
  • A kit should only show a surge of one day. If it shows more than one day, it is very likely invalid.
  • Finally, you should be aware that if you happen to be pregnant already, the kit will simply imply that you aren't ovulating. Of course, this is true, but this tells you nothing of your real condition (whereas charting would, since at least 18 high temperatures above the coverline usually indicates pregnancy).
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