LH Ovulation Strips for Tracking Fertility – the What, Why, and How

What are LH Ovulation Strips, and why should I be using them?
The LH Ovulation Strip is a fast and easy home-use test to predict when you are having your LH (Luteinizing Hormone) surge. This test is a preferred method of tracking when the most fertile days of your cycle occur, and is one of the most reliable predictors of ovulation.

Besides their common use for timing of intercourse, LH strips are used in a few other applications. They can help determine when eggs are at their prime for surgical removal in IVF procedures, and they can conversely help verify a lack of ovulation to assist in diagnosing polycystic ovaries, premature ovarian failure, and menopause.

In terms of helping you track your fertility, the best way to explain the strip is to explain a bit about what biological event it is measuring, and why this makes it a preferred method.

The old way of monitoring your most fertile days for intercourse was to tediously chart your basal body temperature, to see when you were ovulating. This involved taking your temperature every morning before getting out of bed, and charting it to observe any fluctuations. A definite spike meant you probably ovulated. Unfortunately there were a few short-comings with this method. Firstly, there are a few things that could cause a temperature spike (stress, fever, poor sleep, etc). But more importantly, the temperature spike usually occurs 12-24 hours after you ovulate, and herein lies the issue with using this to monitor your fertility.

You are actually considered to be at peak fertility in the 2 days preceding ovulation, which is why you may have noticed your body producing cervical mucus before the event. Sperm can survive inside your body for about 3-5 days, and so having intercourse in these 2 days before egg release can make for the best chances of having sperm and egg meet. After being released, an egg lives for about 12-24 hours, after which it will dissolve if it isn’t fertilized. So if you are getting your important message indicator 12-24 hours after the fact, as with basal temperature monitoring, you can see the problem!

In contrast, the LH ovulation strip is monitoring your LH surge, which is a much more timely (and therefore much less stressful), prediction. When your body is getting ready to release an egg, your hormone system is triggered to release a surge of Luteinizing Hormone (LH). This is a consequence of the changing hormone levels in a maturing egg signalling the pituitary to increase LH production (basically telling the body -“I’m ready to go!”). It is the increased LH that actually triggers ovulation, which occurs about 24-36 hours after the surge. Important to note that nothing other than this “impending ovulation” should trigger a LH surge, so it provides a clear message that your most fertile days have arrived.

Luckily, this marked increase in LH is detectable in the urine, and in steps your home-use LH Ovulation Strip test. For complete instructions on how to use your strips and interpret your results, please click here

Please note that some drugs can affect the test, and you should talk to your practitioner if you have any questions regarding this. Although using the LH ovulation strip is a great way of finding out when your “best chance” intercourse may be, having regular sex (i.e. a few times per week, or every other day) is always the most reliable way of maximizing your chances of conception.

 

Rebecca Stephens
Dr.TCM, R.Ac., B.Sc.