How to use OPK & pregnancy tests to track hormone progression

opk ovulation test

Tracking hormone progression with OPKs and pregnancy tests is a simple way to be aware of hormonal changes in the body.

OPK progression is a helpful adjunct to use when trying to conceive (TTC). It lets the user become aware when there is a surge in the luteinizing hormone (LH).

Pregnancy test progression shows the increase of the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). This increase of hCG lets the woman know that the pregnancy hormone is increasing, and thus pregnancy is sustained.

OPKs to track luteinizing hormone progression

What is an OPK?

OPK stands for ovulation prediction kit. Women trying to conceive (TTC) use OPKs to determine when in their monthly reproductive cycle ovulation occurs.

There are many types of OPKs. The most basic is a simple urine dip stick. It consists of a pad to absorb the urine at one end, in the middle is a test/control interpretation area, and at the other end is a handle.

In addition to the very basic, there are digital read out OPKs. Similarly to the basic, there is a sample end to dip the urine into. However, the interpretation area in the middle is replaced with a digital readout. The digital readout area gives a positive or negative test result.

Positive digital ovulation OPK
Positive digital OPK

Nonetheless, both types of OPKs test for the same hormone (LH). A benefit to the digital readout OPKs is no guesswork. The interpretation is done by the test.

How to chart luteinizing hormone progression using OPKs

  • 1. Determine which type of OPK you want to use:

Wondfo and Easy@home type OPK

Clear blue digital type OPKs

  • 2. If you chose to use either Wondfo or Easy@home style OPKs they will be substantially cheaper than the digital. The digitals can not work for hormone progression charting. With that said, they are nice for a simple yes or no answer.
  • 3. Depending on your cycle length, start testing with the OPKs daily.
  • 4. Make sure you start early enough to not miss your luteinizing hormone (LH) surge. As you get closer to ovulation day, I advise testing frequently, like twice a day.
  • 5. Compare each test to each other to observe for darkening of the test area. When the test area is darker than the control line (or as dark) its considered a positive. Following that, ovulation will happen in the next 12-36 hours.
Wondfo OPK positive progression
Wondfo OPK positive surge progression

When do you ovulate after a positive ovulation test?

You ovulate 12-44 hours after a reading of “peak” is shown on an OPK.

Why track luteinizing hormone progression?

Knowing when your luteinizing surge occurs puts the power of fertility in your hands. Importantly, knowing when you surge is critical for timing conception.

Can you get an LH surge and not ovulate?

Luteinized unruptured follicle syndrome is when you have an LH surge but do not ovulate. This occurs in approximately 10% of healthy women. The body will produce an LH surge, corpus luteum, menstruation, but no egg will be released.

More about OPKs and causes of false positives

Pregnancy test to track progression
(hCG) hormone progression

What is a pregnancy test?

A pregnancy test is a diagnostic test used to determine if a woman is pregnant.

A urine pregnancy test uses a sample of urine and test strip to give a positive or negative result.

There are a couple different types of urine test strips. There is a simple strip test. This strip has a pad that’s dipped into the urine, then in the middle of the strip is a control line. And at the end of the strip is a handle.

There is also a digital version of the urine dip pregnancy test. This digital pregnancy test has a pad that’s dipped into a urine sample. In the middle of the test is a digital readout.

Depending on the brand and style of the digital pregnancy test, it can show different words or symbols. The symbols are simple and give a positive or negative test result. This negates the need for interpretation.

Positive frer pregnancy test
Positive digital pregnancy test

How to chart hCG hormone progression using pregnancy tests

  • 1. Determine the type of pregnancy test you want to use:

✔ Basic urine pregnancy test

✔ First Response Early Response 6 days sooner (FRER)

✔ First Response Early response digital

  • 2. If you chose to use the basic urine pregnancy test, it will be substantially cheaper than the FRER. For charting hormone progression digitals do not work. However they are nice for a simple yes or no answer.
  • 3. Depending on your cycle length you can start taking the FRER test 6 days before the start of your next period. If you are using the basic urine pregnancy tests I would advise starting 8 days after ovulation and then daily, or until the start of your next period.
  • 3. Place each daily test one under the other on a piece of paper labelling the date, and time taken. The FRER are large enough that you are able to write right on them.
  • 4. Compare each test to each other to observe for darkening of the test area. hCG doubles every 72 hours. You are looking for consistent darkening of the test.
hcg Hormone progression positive pregnancy test
FRER positive pregnancy test hormone progression

Why track hCH progression?

Tracking hCH can give women peace of mind, and reduce anxiety. Especially for those who have experienced previous early miscarriages (or chemical pregnancy losses).

With that said, be aware that these tests are not 100%. Do not rely on them for complete medical diagnosis of current hormone status. If there is any variation, there could be a number of reasons behind it. Charting hormonal progression isn’t an exact science. Therefore if you have any questions about your health and fertility, its advised to seek medial attention.

A note of caution; the “Hook Effect”

There is a point that the test can become over saturated with hCG. At this is the hook effect. The pregnancy test will actually look lighter and could appear to be negative, or not progressing normally.

That is why I advise only doing the hormone progression chart early on in pregnancy. No more than 22 days post ovulation.

A trick to determining if the test is effected by the hook effect, take the urine sample and dilute it 50/50 with water and re-test. The result should be a positive pregnancy test if the hook affect is present.

LH and HCG quick facts

6 ways to know when you are fertile

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