Tracking your fertility is one of the first things you’ll be advised to do when you decide to start trying to conceive. While a man’s fertility remains broadly stable from day to day, and is characterised by a slow, steady decline over his whole lifetime, a woman’s is more nuanced. As well as that decline over the course of their life – traditionally described as fertility going over a ‘cliff edge’ at the age of 35, but in fact a gentler decline up until and beyond the age of 40 – a woman’s fertility fluctuates over the course of her menstrual cycle. There are times when it’s near impossible for intercourse to result in pregnancy, other days (the fertile days or ‘fertile window’) when it’s much more likely.
Tracking your fertility allows you to identify and, more importantly, predict those fertile days but there are lots of different options and it can be hard to know what’s best. Today we’re taking a look at testing your fertility to help you make an informed choice.
Ovulation Predictor Kits
Ovulation predictor kits, often known as OPKs, are widely available and convenient to use, relatively speaking, but they also come with significant downsides.
You can pick up a packet of OPKs at any pharmacy, and most supermarkets, so they’re easy to get hold of. They work similarly to pregnancy tests: you immerse the testing strip in urine (either the stream or a sample) and given time it shows a result based on the hormones it finds. It’s looking for a spike in the LH or Luteinising Hormone that cues your ovaries to release the egg.
Unfortunately, this method, simple as it is, has some drawbacks. You have a relatively short window of time to identify this LH surge – if you take the test even at the wrong time of day, let alone on the wrong day, you might miss it!
Also if you have a condition like PCOS, that affects your hormones the results could be affected, giving you a false positive or a false negative so you simply don’t know when you’re ovulating.
Basal Body Temperature
This is a more accurate way to identify when you’re due to ovulate. Using an advanced BBT thermometer you can get accurate core temperature readings overnight that output to an app that can process them into a prediction of when you’re next fertile window will be!