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If you’re trying to figure out if and when you’re ovulating, an ovulation test is a great way to know your cycle better.

Most often, ovulation tests are used to plan pregnancy. “Ovulation tests are best used when trying to identify the fertile window to conceive,” explains Lucky Sekhon, MD, an OB-GYN, reproductive endocrinologist, and infertility specialist at RMA of New York.

For those who want to get pregnant, there’s good news. Research finds that using at-home ovulation tests may increase your chances of getting pregnant.

Some people might use ovulation tests to try to prevent pregnancy by avoiding intercourse during their fertile window, Sekhon adds. “However, this method has a high failure rate. So, if you’re interested in preventing an unplanned pregnancy, I would choose a more effective and reliable form of contraception,” she says.

Ovulation test strips are a popular option in this product category, but digital ovulation tests and ovulation-tracking smart devices are also available.

Ovulation tests measure ovulation, the time when an egg is released from one of the ovaries. This egg can be fertilized by sperm, leading to pregnancy.

Most ovulation tests assess a hormone made by the pituitary gland called luteinizing hormone (LH).

“LH is a signal that’s sent to the ovaries to tell them to ovulate an egg,” Sekhon says. “The hormone signal circulates in [the] bloodstream, gets filtered by the kidneys, and ends up in the urine. When it’s detectable in urine, it means ovulation will likely take place in the next 12 to 36 hours, depending on how early in its rise the elevation was detected.”

Because of this, all ovulation tests use a urine sample to determine whether ovulation is happening soon.

Types of ovulation tests

  • LH-only ovulation tests. These tests look for the presence of LH in the urine only.
  • LH and estrogen ovulation tests. Some ovulation tests can also detect estrogen metabolites in urine. “When a developing follicle contains a maturing egg which is ready to ovulate, it secretes an elevated level of estrogen, which then signals to the pituitary that LH should be released,” Sekhon explains. So, when estrogen is detected in your urine, it gives you a heads-up that ovulation is impending. This could be useful, because LH is released in pulses, and it’s possible to miss the surge if you’re only testing once per day. “The detection of elevated estrogen may be helpful to signal when you should be paying closer attention and potentially checking twice per day.”
  • Progesterone ovulation tests. Unlike the other types of ovulation tests listed here, this type of test is used after you think you ovulated, as the hormone progesterone is produced by the ovaries post-ovulation. “Some newer test strips can detect progesterone, which can serve as a nice confirmation that you ovulated,” Sekhon says.

To select the best ovulation tests on the market, we spoke with medical professionals about what to look for in an ovulation test. Experts agreed that the top factors to consider are:

  • Reason for use. The tests selected for this list are suitable for planning pregnancy. They may also potentially help prevent pregnancy, if used in conjunction with other more reliable forms of contraception and cycle tracking methods.
  • Budget. There’s a wide range in pricing of ovulation tests. Price usually correlates with ease of use, so there are some more expensive options on this list. Sekhon says that, if you’re using ovulation tests simply to time sex (and not necessarily to know your cycle better), simple LH-detecting strips work really well, tend to be cheaper, and can be bought in bulk.
  • FDA registration. It’s important that any ovulation test you use meets U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) standards. All the ovulation tests on this list are registered with the FDA.
  • Reviews. We also checked out reviews to see which ovulation tests people had positive experiences with.

Best for using with an app

Modern Fertility Ovulation Test

One thing that really makes Modern Fertiliy’s ovulation tests stand out is the app they created to help interpret and keep track of test results.

You can track other fertility indicators in the app as well, so you get personalized cycle predictions based on multiple data points. The app itself has a much better user experience than many comparable apps.

Another element of Modern Fertility’s tests is their interpretation guide printed on the packaging. If you choose not to use the app, this may come in handy for judging the strength of the test line.

Some reviewers note the price is higher than they’d like, and that they find the tests comparable to lower-priced options.

A major plus, however, is that Modern Fertility has an active online Slack community, where users can get support from fertility experts and other customers alike. This can be particularly helpful if you’re unsure about what your ovulation test results mean, or if you’re considering reaching out to a doctor for advice.

Best mega pack

Easy@Home Ovulation Test Strips 100-Pack

If you’re looking for value, this pack of 100 ovulation test strips should do the trick for a very reasonable price. These dip strips last most people many months of testing for ovulation, so they’re a great pick if you anticipate tracking ovulation over a longer period of time.

Reviewers like that, compared to more expensive brands, the Easy@Home ovulation test strips show similar LH surge results.

In terms of cons, some people say they had a hard time interpreting the darkness of the test line to determine when they were ovulating.

Still, these test strips seem to be a crowd favorite, and the brand has a simple-to-use app for scanning your test strips daily to keep track of results. The app also helps with interpretation, making it easier to determine when you’re having a low, high, and peak fertility day.

Best test strip

Natalist Ovulation Test Kit

If you’re committed to using ovulation test strips over other types of ovulation tests, these test strips are some of the best you can get. They come in packs of 30 with a silicone urine collection cup included.

The reusable cup is a huge plus, as this cuts down on waste and means you don’t have to buy your own urine collection cups separately. Natalist is a 100 percent plastic-neutral company, so it makes sense that they offer this bonus.

These tests also come with a physical ovulation test tracker where you can insert your tests to look at the progression from day to day.

Reviewers love that each individual test packet is printed with instructions on how to use the test, meaning you won’t have to rummage around for the box if you forget how long you’re supposed to dip the test in urine.

Compared with other test strips, these are a little more expensive and come in a smaller quantity. But reviewers say, for the urine test cup and tracker alone, the price is worth it.

Best progesterone ovulation test

Proov Predict and Confirm Kit

If you’re looking to confirm that you’ve ovulated, the Proov Predict and Confirm Kit might be right for you. The kit comes with 15 LH test strips to use leading up to ovulation, and five PdG test strips to use after you think you ovulated.

PdG is a urine metabolite of progesterone, meaning that if your progesterone levels rise, PdG will be detectable in your urine.

Reviewers note that, while these test strips are more expensive than others, they can provide peace of mind that ovulation is happening. Some reviewers even note that using these tests and getting negative PdG results helped them figure out that they needed further hormonal testing.

One potential con is that some reviewers find these tests difficult to interpret. This is partially because the PdG tests work opposite to LH tests. With an LH test, two bold lines is a positive result. With Proov’s PdG test, one bold line is a positive result (and two lines is a negative result).

Still, many users find these tests helpful. Sekhon says the tests can be a good way to check if you’re unsure if you’re ovulating.

Best ovulation-pregnancy test combo

Pregmate 50 Ovulation and 20 Pregnancy Test Strips Predictor Kit

Whether you’re trying to get pregnant or prevent pregnancy, it’s convenient to have some pregnancy tests on hand, just in case. Pregmate’s combo pack of 50 ovulation tests and 20 pregnancy test strips means you’ll have plenty of tests to track ovulation and check for pregnancy for several months.

Both tests look essentially the same, but come in different-colored packaging to make it easy to tell the difference. Simply dip a strip into your collected urine for 3 to 5 seconds, then lay it flat and wait 3 to 5 minutes to read the results.

Reviewers love that the pregnancy tests included in this kit are very sensitive, meaning they can detect pregnancy before other less sensitive pregnancy tests.

A potential con is that some reviewers find these ovulation tests difficult to interpret. As with most other ovulation test strips, two lines are not considered a positive result unless the test line is as dark or darker than the control line.

Best smart test

Clearblue Fertility Monitor

If you’re looking for a higher-tech option, the Clearblue Fertility Monitor keeps all your ovulation test info in one convenient place.

Simply dip a test wand in your urine sample, insert it into the monitor, and wait 5 minutes for your results. The monitor tells you which days you need to test and stores your past cycle information, so you can compare how things are going from month to month.

This device is geared toward those who are trying to conceive, and isn’t suitable for people trying to prevent pregnancy. One downside is that the test wands for the device are sold separately, meaning you need to make two purchases to get started.

Similar to Clearblue’s other ovulation products, this monitor tells you when you have low, high, and peak fertility based on your estrogen and LH levels, which reviewers love.

One thing reviewers don’t like is that the device requires you to set a 5-hour window for testing that you’ll stick to each day. If you miss the window, you’re unable to test for the day. At the same time, the monitor allows you to test for pregnancy at the end of your cycle if you purchase pregnancy test wands for it, which is a nice plus.

Best for details on your cycle

Clearblue Advanced Digital Ovulation Test

If you’re looking for an ovulation test that provides you with detailed information on your cycle, this is a great pick. Because it measures both your estrogen rise and your LH surge, it can identify more fertile days than your standard LH test strip. This means you have more chances to try to conceive.

Similarly, if you’re trying to prevent pregnancy, you’ll know in more detail when to avoid unprotected intercourse.

One potential downside of this ovulation test kit is the price. It’s more expensive than other options, and you have to buy test wand refills periodically. That said, reviews indicate that most people find the extra cost to be worth it for more information about their cycle.

Many reviewers say the Clearblue Advanced Digital Ovulation Test took the guesswork out of trying to get pregnant. That might be because, instead of having to interpret the darkness of the test line and the control line (as you’d need to with a typical ovulation test strip), this ovulation test displays a blinking smiley face when an estrogen rise is detected and a solid smiley face when an LH surge is detected. This makes interpretation incredibly easy.

All that said, the company has no third-party certifications, privacy standards, or BBB profile. Clearblue was also involved in a lawsuit in 2015 over “allegedly misrepresenting the efficacy of a certain pregnancy test product.”

Best budget pick

Wondfo LH Ovulation Strips

For those with smaller budgets, the Wondfo LH Ovulation Strips are a solid choice. They deliver results in just 3 to 5 minutes, and reviewers say the strips display clearer results than other similar tests.

Some reviewers say they were unhappy with the bare-bones packaging the tests come in and the lack of clear instructions on how to use them.

That said, others swear by the quality and price of these tests. They’re an especially good option for those who are already familiar with how to use ovulation tests and don’t need much in the way of instruction.

Other reviewers point out that, because these tests are so inexpensive, they’re ideal for anyone with irregular cycles who may need to test many days each month in order to identify their LH surge.

Several reviewers also say the Wondfo tests are great for anyone not necessarily looking to invest money into getting pregnant, but who wants to get to know their cycle better after coming off of hormonal birth control.

Something to note is that the company has no third-party certifications, privacy standards, and no BBB profile. The company was also involved in a patent infringement lawsuit in 2018.

When should you start using ovulation tests?

If you have longer or shorter cycles, it can be tricky to figure out when to take an ovulation test.

“I recommend patients start using them daily at around day 10 of their menstrual cycle,” says Zaher Merhi, MD, a reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialist and the founder of Rejuvenating Fertility Center.

What time of day should you take an ovulation test?

Experts agree that when you take an ovulation test doesn’t matter as much as taking them around the same time each day, so you can consistently measure your LH levels over time.

That said, it’s best to use ovulation tests after 11:00 a.m., according to Zitao Liu, MD, PhD, a board certified OB-GYN and fertility doctor. This is when LH levels tend to be highest.

How long after a positive test do you ovulate?

When you get a positive LH test result, ovulation generally occurs in the next 36 hours, Sekhon says, though it could happen as soon as 12 hours.

That means, if you’re trying to get pregnant, you’ll want to time intercourse for the day of or day after your positive LH test result.

Is there anyone who shouldn’t use ovulation tests?

“Ovulation predictor kits aren’t ideal for [those] with very irregular, unpredictable cycles,” Sekhon says. “It’s not very efficient if you need to check every day for months on end. Also, [those living] with polycystic ovary syndrome tend to have high LH levels and may get false positives.”

Similarly, if you’re taking any medications as part of fertility treatments, you shouldn’t use ovulation tests unless instructed by your physician, Merhi says. “Some medications can create false positives.”

Can an ovulation test detect pregnancy?

You might’ve heard that if you don’t have a pregnancy test on hand, an ovulation test can also detect pregnancy because the pregnancy hormone hCG and LH are chemically similar.

While it’s true these hormones have a similar structure, they are significantly different, says Liu. This creates a chance of false positives, so he doesn’t recommend using an ovulation test to check for pregnancy.

There are so many ovulation test options out there that it can feel difficult to choose just one.

Rest assured, experts agree that most of the available choices are relatively similar in terms of quality and accuracy. The ovulation test that’s right for you comes down to your preferences, needs, and budget.

Julia Malacoff is a London-based freelance editor and writer who covers all things health and wellness. She’s a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach. When she’s not writing, there’s a good chance she’s walking her two cocker spaniels.