Ovulation Predictor Kits
You're ready to start a family, but after a few months of trying you still haven't seen those two pink lines on a home pregnancy test. If you have been having unprotected sex for a few cycles without conceiving, you may be feeling like you want to do something about it—something that you can do right now without having to wait until the "right time." Here's one action you can take: Stock up your fertility medicine cabinet.
Ovulation predictor kits (OPKs) are a relatively easy way to gauge your most fertile days. They range in technology from simple chemical test strips to electronic devices that monitor and record several fertility signs in your saliva, in your urine, or on your skin.
- Standard OPKs: OPKs measure the presence of luteinizing hormone (LH) in your urine. The amount of LH in your system peaks 12 to 48 hours prior to ovulation. These kits pinpoint the LH surge, helping you anticipate your most fertile time an average of 36 hours in advance. Most kits contain five or six sticks, so time your testing window carefully based on the length of your cycle. Women with longer or irregular cycles may not find their fertile window with one kit on the first try. Costs range from $12 to $30 per pack.
- Saliva Ferning Tests: These tests use a small microscope to examine the amount and appearance of sodium in your saliva. The test works by placing a bit of saliva on a slide and checking for any visual changes in the sample. When you approach your fertile time, the appearance of the salivary sodium "ferns," thus indicating that ovulation is approaching. While these kits are relatively inexpensive, some people find it difficult to assess ferning. Costs range from $25 to $40.
- OV-Watch Fertility Predictors: These wristwatch-sized, mini-computers monitor the level of chloride ions on your skin. A surge in chloride ions appears 24 hours prior to an estrogen surge, and two days prior to the LH surge, thus providing you with five days notice before ovulation. You wear the watch only at night, and no saliva or urine tests are required. The product includes a sensor good for one month of use, so additional sensors must be purchased separately. $150 for a starter kit, $40 for additional monthly sensors.
- Clearblue Easy Fertility Monitors: These electronic devices use urine OPKs to measure both luteinizing hormone and estrogen. Since estrogen peaks a few days prior to the LH surge, monitoring both hormones provides several days' warning prior to ovulation. Offering a wider "window of opportunity" can help couples feel less pressure to perform on demand.
The computer records your personal information from month to month, and clearly indicates when you are in a low, high, or peak fertility phase. This is particularly useful for women with irregular menstrual cycles.
Each kit comes with a three-month supply of 30 test sticks, and additional sticks must be purchased in increments of 30, making this device one of the more expensive options available. $180 for the monitor, plus $50 for each additional 30-stick pack.
- OvaCue Fertility Monitors: These monitors measure the amount of electrolytes in your saliva to identify what the manufacturer calls "Cue Peak," an event that indicates your prime fertility a few days prior to your LH surge. These sophisticated monitors record the fluctuation of electrolytes with a spoon-sized sensor you insert in your mouth every morning.
With the addition of the optional vaginal sensor, you can confirm that ovulation did in fact occur that month, a feature no other kit on the market offers. While this monitor is the priciest, particularly with the addition of the vaginal sensor, it does not require any additional monthly maintenance costs. $300 for the kit, $100 for an additional vaginal sensor.