“ A home ovulation prediction kit, it can be quite a commitment both financially and time wise, but if it's effective, it's obviously worth it. According to research, they are over 99% accurate. „
==What are they?==
Home ovulation predictor kits are designed to help couples who are trying to conceive, by pinpointing the two days of the month when the woman is most likely to conceive, i.e. in the lead up to ovulation. For an egg to be fertilised, there must be sperm waiting to receive the egg when it is released, so to get pregnant, you are best timing sex in the run up to ovulation.
==Why not let nature take its course?==
In an ideal world, when you decide you'd like to have a baby, it would be nice to just let nature take its course and for it to be a by-product of what is a very natural thing. Indeed, this is what my husband and I planned when we first started trying. However, at this time, I didn't realise that being on the pill for over ten years would have an impact on my monthly cycle going back to normal, and for a while afterwards, my periods were few and far between. They are getting a little more regular now, but when you only have one period in six months, you really don't want to miss the opportunity to maximise your chances.
Although they're expensive, I intend to keep taking these until my cycle returns to normal and I can work out by myself when I'm ovulating (well actually, I'm now using a cheaper non-branded version, but more on that later). These kits are also useful for people who work shifts and therefore can't adopt the having sex every 2-3 days as recommended. They are most useful for people like myself, who experience irregular or infrequent periods.
==How do they work?==
These home test kits work in a similar way to pregnancy tests, by analysing your urine and giving a positive result when the hormone which triggers ovulation is present. This Luteinizing hormone (or the LH surge as it's better known), is a good indication that the woman will ovulate within the next couple of days, and so for maximum chance of conception, when you see the positive result you're best getting down to it, to put it bluntly!
The process involved is exactly the same as a pregnancy test. You simply urinate on the absorbent tip of the stick for around 5 seconds, replace the cap, and wait up to ten minutes for the result. There is a control window and a test window. You should always get a pink line in the control window, as this shows the test is working, and a positive result is when you get a pink line in the test window which is at least as dark as the line in the control window. If you don't get a line in either window, the test hasn't worked and you are advised to test again.
The best time to take these tests, contrary to pregnancy tests, is NOT first thing in the morning. They recommend from around 10am onwards, but the important thing is that it should be done at the same time every day. This is because the fertility window is so narrow, if you were to take one in the morning one day, then last thing at night the following day, you could miss a positive result. So, it's quite a commitment for the money you've spent, after all, I'd imagine you'd be gutted if you missed the positive result on the one day you were busy and forgot to do it. For this reason, I choose to do mine at teatime each day, because that way I can do it as soon as I get home from work, as I usually go home first even if I have plans for the evening. You're also supposed to avoid drinking excessive amounts of liquid for the two hours prior to taking the test, because apparently this can water down the hormone in your urine and may cause the test to be unable to detect it.
==Cost and Availability==
Ok, so here's the bad news. If you want to take these kits on a regular basis, they're going to have quite an impact on your bank balance. In fact, if you pay full price for them, you probably won't be able to afford to have kids at all! These are available only in Boots stores, and the full RRP prices are below:
Pack of 7 £13.49
Pack of 20 £27.99
I bought three of the packs of 20, when Boots were running a 3-for-2 offer, and I had a £12 money off voucher with an advantage card promotion. This made it a little more affordable, but once the offer had finished and I needed some more, I scouted round and found that Home Bargains do their own version of these, and having used them they are just as reliable, at a fraction of the price (a 5 pack costs £2.99, so for 20 tests I pay £11.96 instead of £27.99).
==Do they work?==
In a nutshell, these have worked 100% for me. By that I mean that they have told me when I'm about to ovulate, although unfortunately this didn't result in me getting pregnant but that's not the fault of the sticks! The directions state that the result can be read within 3 to 10 minutes, but I always found the result was immediate, and no length of time looking at the stick would make the second line appear. I guess they have to cover themselves in case it's a bit late picking up the result, but I trusted my instinct and didn't hang around after taking these, as I knew immediately whether it was positive or not.
The procedure is simple enough, and there was never any ambiguity over the strength of the line. This is where ovulation tests differ to pregnancy tests, because whereas pregnancy tests are positive if you get a second pink line, however faint, with ovulation tests the second line has to be at least as strong as the control line, if not stronger. I did worry that I might not be able to tell the difference, but as it turned out, 99% of the time there was no second line, and the two times I ovulated whilst taking these it was picked up straight away by a dark second line, so I knew immediately.
The instructions tell you the best time in your cycle to start taking the tests (e.g. day 11 if you're on a 28 day cycle), but I find this really strange because surely if you knew your cycle that well, you'd be able to figure out when you're ovulating by yourself?! I tend to use my judgement, and as my periods are still levelling off, I know once I've had one I can wait a few weeks before starting to test again. This saves money as I'm not wasting tests.
==Positives (pun intended!)==
So, despite the price, these tests have quite a lot going for them:
* According to their research, they are over 99% accurate in pinpointing the best days to conceive
* They are easy to use, with a disposable stick for each day
* The sticks are individually wrapped, and very discreet, making life easier if you need to take one in your handbag for any reason (I had to do this once when I knew I would be in work past my usual testing time)
* The results are very easy to read and unambiguous
* The tests have a thumb grip to ensure you have a good grip, and a cap over the absorbent tip for hygiene reasons
==And the not so good?==
The downsides are......
* They are very expensive as a long term solution
* The control and test windows aren't labelled, so it can be a bit confusing when you first start taking them (surprisingly, the Home Bargains ones are labelled "T" and "C" which makes life easier)
* It's quite a commitment taking the test at the same time each day, and this might not be possible if you work shifts for example
* The instructions presume you know what length your cycle is....which is a bit strange because if that was the case you wouldn't need these tests!
* Technically speaking, you're supposed to wait up to 10 minutes for the results, which can be inconvenient if you're in a hurry or in work
==A word of caution==
It probably goes without saying, but these kits are not recommended to be used as a reliable form of contraception, although they are probably too expensive to be used in this way. In my experience, the best form of contraception seems to be actually trying to get pregnant.....
Although these tests are a good way of pinpointing the best days to conceive, they are horrendously expensive, and I have since found a much cheaper brand. The Home Bargains ones I use work out at £11.96 for 20, whereas the Boots ones will set you back £27.99. The cheaper Home Bargains brand are also designed slightly better, labelling the test and control windows to avoid any confusion, and the waiting time for them is 8 minutes instead of 10. These test do require a bit of a commitment in terms of making sure you do them daily, and this can be tricky for people who can't take the test at the same time each day for whatever reason. I can't dispute their effectiveness, reliability or convenience, but the price is too high and there are a couple of design flaws so I'm giving them three stars.
(Review may also appear on Ciao under the username Gingerkitty)