OPKs: Positive or Negative?

One of the most asked questions on TTCAL is “How do I know if my OPK is positive or negative?”. It can be hard to tell sometimes. Hopefully this blog post can help clear up any confusion and make your TTCAL journey a little easier.

First let’s recap what OPKs are and how they work. OPK is short for Ovulation Prediction Kits.These tests pick up the Luteinizing Hormone (LH) surge that is produced just before ovulation. Just like a Home Pregnancy Tests (HPT), these tests come in different forms; strips, cassettes or midstream.

When is the best time to test?
This all depends on how long your cycles are. Use the following table as a guide line as to when to start testing.

Cycle Start Day
21 5
22 5
23 6
24 7
25 8
26 9
27 10
28 11
29 12
30 13
31 14
32 15
33 16
34 17
35 18
36 19
37 20
38 21
39 22

The best time of day to test would be late afternoon. Anything from 2pm is advisable until about 8pm. Reason being that LH is more concentrated in your urine later in the day, as opposed to early morning. FMU is not recommended when testing with an OPK.

Try limiting fluid intake before testing, as well as holding your urine for 2-3 hours before.

If you are taking Clomid/Fertomid it is recommended that you do not start testing until a day or two after your last pill. Sometimes these fertility pills can cause a false positive.

How long do I test for?You will need to test until you get your positive result i.e. detecting your LH surge. This can vary from 4 days to 10 days depending on how long your cycles are. The shorter your cycle the less tests you will need. You would most likely “see” your surge within 4-5 days from testing.

 What is a positive, I have two lines???
This can be a bit tricky. Since an OPK does not “read” the same as a HPT. A line is NOT always a positive line on an OPK. You will need your test line to be darker than or as dark as the control line. A faint test line only indicates some LH being picked up, not your surge. So keep testing until your test line gets as dark as the control line.

I have my positive, now what?
Once you get detect your surge, you can ovulate 12 – 36 hours after your positive result. (Bear in mind you can wait as long as 48 hours.) Intercourse (BD-Baby Dancing) can take place the day of the positive OPK; you can skip the next day and BD after that. Although you shouldn’t really miss more than two consecutive days of intercourse when Trying to Conceive (TTC). Of course there is nothing wrong with every day either as long as your partner does not have sperm health issues. If you are tracking your Basal Body Temperature (BBT), keep BD until you confirm your thermal shift.

All  above Info came from Making Babies

And since it is always easier to compare your OPKs to a picture, here are a few diagrams and pictures of different types of tests that will make it easier to figure out if your OPK is positive or negative.

See how the bottom one is as dark (if not a little darker) than the control line. That is a positive result. The 2PM test is not quite positive but almost there.

Another example of an OPK test, same principle.. not positive until the test line is as dark or darker than the control line.

Left (Not Positive), Right (Positive)
Then of course the lovely Smiley face!

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Here’s a great article on using an Ovulation Predictor Kit as a Home Pregnancy test (provided by E-P-T.com)

If you are a super savvy TTC-er, you have probably heard about women using their OPKs (ovulation predictor kits) as pregnancy tests. On the other hand, if you are new to the TTC community, you might be wondering how this is possible. While it is certainly possible to use an ovulation test as a pregnancy test, it is not necessarily the most advisable method for testing for pregnancy. Here is the low-down on using an ovulation test as a pregnancy test:

An ovulation test works by detecting the surge in luteinizing hormone (LH) that precedes ovulation. Pregnancy tests work by detecting the presence of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in your urine. Interestingly, hCG and LH are both known scientifically as glycoproteins, which simply means that these hormones are made up of a protein with a sugar attached to it. Of even greater interest for this discussion, is the fact that the protein parts of hCG and LH look very similar. So similar, in fact, a standard ovulation test (OPK) is unable to distinguish between LH and hCG in your urine. Therefore, if you have enough of either of the two hormones (LH or hCG) in your urine at the time you test using an OPK, you will get a positive result on the OPK.

In theory, therefore, a positive result on an ovulation test taken after you have missed a period could definitely indicate that you are pregnant. But, while it might be tempting to use your extra ovulation test as a pregnancy test, most OPKs are not as sensitive as an early detection pregnancy test, which means that you will run the risk of getting a false negative…so, even if you are pregnant, your OPK will not be sensitive enough to detect the small amounts of hCG that are present in your urine in the first few days after conception. If you suspect that you have conceived, the quickest, most accurate way to confirm pregnancy is to use an early detection pregnancy test.

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When is it too much or too little?

Facing my own questions has raised some more. When is a period too heavy or too light? When is it too long or too short? Should I always have clots? What’s a ‘normal’ cycle?

Some of you may know, I’ve been wondering why my periods randomly went from 4-5 days down to 1 and 1.5 days. Not only the length shortened, but I also went from heavy to very light. That started in November of 10. Now, it’s started getting heavier and more painful, but has only lengthened to 2 days. So I wonder, is that too short?

Short Periods

From this Feb ’10 publication, my answer would be yes. An article reviewed by Dr Pat Bass states ” anywhere from three to seven days of bleeding is considered normal, and each full menstrual cycle can last anywhere from 21 to 35 days. Three days of bleeding, which may seem short, is still considered normal as long as you’re menstruating regularly.” So, from this short quote, that would mean as long as your periods are regular, that’s okay. But, that first part stating “3 days may seem short” leaves me wondering.

As I read in Taking Charge of Your Fertility, the time span between periods allows your endometrial lining to thicken. This is what allows for a healthy implantation. If there is no implantation, that lining comes of and is shown by the thickness and length of your period. Another published article, April ’11, offers some insight; “Scanty blood flow however may also occur because ovulation is irregular at this time and the endometrial lining fails to develop normally.”

So does that mean my lining is too thin? What if you have a long and heavy period? Can lining actually be too tick?

Long Periods

From the same April article, insight to long periods is also offered.

A regular period typically lasts five days, but it is completely normal to menstruate for anywhere between three and seven days. More than a week therefore becomes abnormally long and could be due to changes in hormone levels, blood clotting or even uterus disorders.

For those with long or heavy periods every moth that has become ‘normal’ for their body, there is a website and medication dedicated to lightening and shortening your periods called LightenMyPeriod.com

The Long and Short Of It

It seems no matter the information you find, they all say the same thing, if it’s not ‘normal’ for you, call your doctor after two cycles. There are a variety of factors that could cause a long or short, heavy or light period. It could be thin or thick lining, clotting disorders, pregnancy, an unknown pregnancy loss, uterine abnormalities or hormone imbalances.

What if it’s all been ruled out? Work on charting or using OPK’s to help confirm ovulation in order to achieve pregnancy (or avoid). If ovulation is not detected or confirmed, consider discussing a month or two on birth control with your doctor. This may help balance hormones and get your body doing what it needs to, correctly.

REMEMBER: If you fill one pad or tampon per hour for 3 hours, call your OB, Dr, or go to the ER for too much blood loss.

Article to consider: MedlinePlus – April ’09

Fertility Friend (FF) vs Taking Charge of Your Fertility (TCOYF)

These are two great online resources for predicting and confirming ovulation and helping to determine your best chances of getting pregnant.

Both have the same base, you can chart your temperatures medications, cervical fluids, symptoms and your period (length and flow strength).

Each one is different in their own way and you have to look at and experience both before making your final decision.

Here are some threads on other boards about FF vs TCOYF on BabyCenter, WhatToExpect.com and even on TCYOF.com.

Personally, I have read TCOYF but I use FF. As of now, I do not take my temperature, use OPK’s or check my cervical position, so it’s very basic for me. I follow my days, my cervical fluids and sometimes my “symptoms”.

Fertility Friend:

Taking Charge of Your Fertility:

Both sites are very user friendly, have forums and great tutorials. FF provides classes to get you started with charting and TCOYF has the book that is available for purchase. Whether you want to do a lot, like those pictured above, or a little, like me, there’s a right match for you.

Have you looked at both? Which one is your favorite and why?

OPK’s- What you need to know and how you need to know it

I am going to preface by saying this: You may get one surge that will lead to ovulation. You may get a surge that will not lead to ovulation. You may get multiple surges leading to no ovulation. You may get near positives and never get an actual positive. You may have PCOS or other hormonal complications that will never allow you to surge or ovulate. You may have constant lines and never surge.

There are many variables and many ways that ovulation tests can be viewed or read.
************************************************************

If you read the post about home pregnancy test varieties, this one will blow it away. Pregnancy tests are simple. You can test with blood, a stream of urine or urine in a cup. With ovulation tests you can test with a stream of urine, urine in a cup, taking your temperature every morning at the same time, using a watch during certain time periods and also through blood tests or ultrasounds.

This post will only talk about a few. Midstream and cup collection will be the two biggest. There will be a small bit about taking temperature and using the watch or monitor, so bear with me.

Midstream tests

There are variety of companies who create midstream OPK’s. ClearBlue, Answer and those from Early-Pregnancy-Tests.com are some of the more popular. These tests look like the home pregnancy tests, so make sure you have them separated so you can identify them properly.

With these tests you will get a smiley face for the digitals and a line for the regular version. For your lines, you want the test line to be AS DARK OR DARKER THAN the control line. Remember, you may always have a line there, but it’s lighter when you do not have a surge.

If you use the ClearBlue digital OPK, DO NOT open it and analyze the lines inside. They are often lighter than the control and will confuse you. Trust your smiley face or empty circle to tell you the truth.

Dipping tests

These are often referred to as the “internet cheapies” or Wondfo’s. They’re small strips you dip into a cup of collected urine. These are my personal favorite. They’re cheap, easy to transport and easy to read. You must follow the instructions properly to insure you get the right answer. Early-pregnancy-tests.com and Amazon have great deals on them.

The same goes with these as with the midstream. The test line must be AS DARK OR DARKER THAN the control line. If your lines smear or there is no control, test again. That’s what’s great about the dipping ones. You don’t have to pee again, just use the same collection.

Temping

Full fledged charters will also use a basal body thermometer to help determine ovulation. Please note: This will NOT predict ovulation, but it will help confirm what an OPK will predict.

With temping, you take your tempature every morning at the same time after 3 or more hours of sleep. There are many rules when it comes to temping the proper way to get the proper answers. Please ask questions and read Taking Charge Of Your Fertility. It’s a FANTASTIC book with questions you’ll have and their answers, scenarios played out and charts to help get you started. Also check out FertilityFriend.com. It’s an online version of charting that has “classes” to teach you.

Using a watch or monitor

No, I don’t mean a regular watch, I mean the OvWatch. This watch requires you to follow specific instructions when wearing it, how to read it properly and sensors to be used.

The monitor I’m referring to is the ClearBlue Easy Fertility Monitor. It’s expensive, requires sensors daily and can be difficult to read if you don’t follow the instructions. I have heard great reviews and outcomes. You can also often find the monitor and/or sensors on Ebay or Amazon for decent prices.

There are many ways to help find out the right times to time sex to achieve pregnancy or to avoid it. These are only a few ways. Never be afraid to ask questions. I HIGHLY recommend reading the book, it will answer so many questions you never knew you had. You can find some on Ebay, Amazon, Barnes&Noble and many more places.

*********WARNING: THE THREAD BELOW CONTAINS PHOTOS OF BABIES AND INFANTS *************

What is it you like to pee on for that perfect timing? Join us in this thread or comment below to share your favorite, or the one you refuse to use!

Playing Catch up!

First– Lets do the Mix Up The Meal Recipe! I think we can come up with some fantastic meals with………PEARS!

No, I’m not asking you to cook a gourmet meal with 5 courses and be all decked out, just find a good fun way to use an ingredient, be it a lot or a little. Each week, there will be a new ingredient. Every Friday, we’ll go over what was created and how it tasted and you can even throw in a picture if you’d like!

There are different flavors and makes of this great product, so do some browsing on Google, Recipes.com, allrecipes.com or foodnetwork.com. Either way, you’ll be good to go! Desserts are welcome as well! Just remember, get creative!

Second– Later today, the OPK comparison post will be coming out. There’s a TON of information to put together, thats part of why it’s taken so long to come out.

Finally– Don’t forget about the Mothers Day Gift Exchange. Names will be drawn on the 9th. No more entries after the 8th!

Here is the link if you need it: TTCAL Mothers Day Gift Exchange