Home Fertility Tests

If you are planning on having a baby, finding out a bit more about your own fertility is a good idea. For a couple trying to conceive, it is important to know whether both partners are in fact fertile and when the best chances of fertilization are. This can be done using home fertility tests. Depending on the type of test you use, these tools can help you determine if both partners are fertile, and when the mom-to-be is ovulating, which is when she is most fertile and conception is most likely.

There are 3 main types of tests for females:

Ovulation Predictor Tests
Ovulation predictor tests measure the amount of luteinizing hormone (LH) levels in a woman’s urine. LH is secreted by the pituitary gland to induce the ovaries to release an ova (egg), so an increase in LH levels occurs 24-48 hours before ovulation. The ovulation predictor strips are dipped into a woman’s urine, and they change color depending on the levels of LH present. The color is compared to a provided color chart to determine the LH level. When a woman is at her highest levels of LH, she will soon be ovulating, and the time is right for conception.

Ovulation predictor tests are the most popular method of fertility testing, and they can provide quite accurate results given proper testing methods, frequency, and duration. However this type of test offers no information on whether the ovulation process is beginning or ending, and it gives no advance notice of ovulation to allow planning ahead. Also, for more accurate results, testing should occur several times a day and over several days to pinpoint the time of ovulation.

Kits may range from $25-$50 per cycle for strips. Kits with an electronic monitor which reads the strips more accurately can cost several hundred dollars, plus the cost of strips.

Mucus Tests
Mucus tests measure a woman’s bodily mucus fluctuations using a saliva sample. Like a woman’s hormone levels, her mucus levels fluctuate over her menstrual cycle. During ovulation, a woman’s cervical mucus thins to allow sperm to pass through and access the ova. Therefore, thinner mucus measurements indicate that a woman is ovulating and is thus more fertile.

A woman can test the consistency of her cervical mucus by collecting a sample between her thumb and forefinger and spreading her fingers apart. Around the time of ovulation, the mucus should be able to stretch over 1-2 inches while remaining intact between her fingers. Thin, stretchy mucus like egg whites indicates easier conception, while thick, white mucus signifies less fertile periods of a woman’s cycle.

Saliva consistency changes at the same time as a woman’s cervical mucus does, and mucus test kits predict ovulation by measuring changes in the consistency of a woman’s saliva as opposed to her cervical mucus. The saliva sample is placed on a slide and examined under a microscope for a fern-like pattern that indicated ovulation. However, challenges interpreting the sample can lead to inaccurate results. This test sells for around $30-$150.

Other mucus tests rely on measurements of changes in the saliva’s electrolytes. Electrolyte composition changes as mucus changes, and electrolyte changes in the saliva indicate mucus thinning and the onset of ovulation. This type of test is done using an electronic sensor that is placed in the mouth, and a monitor displays the results. It can cost $30-$200.

Basal Body Temperature Tests
Basal body temperature (BBT) tests measure changes in a woman’s basal body temperature, and this helps to determine when ovulation has occurred. The BBT is the body’s temperature at rest, before any physical exertion. Thus the best time to determine your BBT is first thing in the morning before you get up.

Throughout a woman’s cycle, her BBT changes in relation to hormones and other physical changes. During ovulation, BBT rises. Therefore, this test consists of monitoring for regular monthly changes in your BBT. Take your BBT every morning before you get up, and make sure this is at generally the same time every day. This is very important, and if you do not do it at the same time every day, you could end up will less accurate results. Ovulation has occurred when BBT rises 0.2-0.4 degrees higher than any temperature in the previous 6 days, and stays elevated for at least 3 consecutive days. If the temperature stays up for 18 consecutive days, you should test for pregnancy.

This test is inexpensive, since all you need is a BBT thermometer, which is easy to get a hold of and costs relatively little ($10-$15). Some even come with sample charts that can be blown up and copied on a photocopier. However, charting is best done for a few months so that you can get an idea of your natural cycle and get the hang of charting, therefore this method is slow and requires lots of preparation. Also, although it predicts when ovulation has occurred, it cannot be used to predict when ovulation will occur.