When Is the Best Time to Take an Ovulation Test?

By Alice Bassett
Edited by Taj Schlebusch

Published October 30, 2021.

Woman with several ovulation tests deciding when to take them

An ovulation test is a quick and simple method that can be used to capitalize on the narrow window in which it is possible to conceive. While there are factors that can influence the outcome, such as being on fertility medication or birth control or being above forty years old, they are usually the best option available.

How Does an Ovulation Test Work?

There is a hormone in your body called Luteinizing Hormone (LH), which signals the release of an egg. Thus, when LH levels are high, ovulation is usually soon to follow. An ovulation test detects high levels of LH in the urine, thus indicating that ovulation will occur within 12 to 36 hours.

How to Read an Ovulation Test

There are two lines on an ovulation test: the control line and the test line. If the test line is the same shade or darker than the control line, it indicates an LH surge, which means that ovulation should occur in the next day and a half.

What Factors May Interfere With an Ovulation Test?

Many people believe that dehydration can affect the results of an ovulation test when, actually, quite the opposite is true. The more fluid you drink, the more diluted your urine will be, making it much harder to detect the presence of LH. Diluted urine can lead to false-negative results on ovulation tests.

For women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), false positives may be expected on an ovulation test. This is because women with PCOS have high levels of LH in their bloodstream, which may result in a test reading positive when it isn't. This means that it is possible for you to have an LH surge but experience no ovulation.

When to Take an Ovulation Test With an Irregular Cycle

It can be confusing to tell when to take an ovulation test after your period, but it is good to remember that the counting of your cycle begins on the first day you bleed.

Ovulation during a regular 28-day menstrual cycle should occur around day 14. If your cycle is irregular, however, it will be harder to tell when the middle of the cycle is. The ovulation test should then be taken more frequently and at the same time every day.

Signs That You May Be Ovulating

There are natural signs that your body gives to indicate ovulation. While these will vary depending on the individual, they are useful to look out for:

  • When you are nearing ovulation, your cervical mucus will become thicker and egg-like in consistency.
  • Pain in the lower abdomen can be an indicator if it occurs in the middle of your cycle.
  • An increase in libido may indicate ovulation, as the body's natural instinct at this time is to reproduce.
  • In some women, breast tenderness could be a sign of ovulation, while in others it could be an indication that ovulation has already occurred.

Best Time of Day to Take an Ovulation Test

It may not be clear when to take an ovulation predictor test, either in the morning or at night. What is important, however, is that you take each test at the same time as all the others.

The best time of day to take an ovulation predictor test is usually the first time you pass urine in the morning. This is because you want to refrain from drinking too many fluids, thus running the risk of diluting your urine.

The lifecycle of an ovum is very short, as they only live for about 12 to 24 hours. This is another reason why it is best to take the test in the morning. If you are trying to fall pregnant, you can capitalize on the lifespan of the ovum. Bear in mind that your ovulation test may read positive one day and negative the next, given how short the window is.

Can You Get Pregnant When Not Ovulating?

Sperm can survive in a woman's body for up to five days, thus you can get pregnant if you have sex on a day that you aren't ovulating. That being said, if no ovulation occurs, no pregnancy can occur, as there needs to be an egg available to fertilize. An ovulation test is a great method to plan pregnancy, as it can be used as a sure way to find out when your ovulation will occur, but be sure not to use it as a pregnancy test, as it will not necessarily test positive if you are pregnant.