Updated March 22, 2023 | Medically reviewed by Dr. Patti Haebe, NMD
Studies have demonstrated that ovulation tests help women better understand their cycle patterns and get pregnant faster. If you are new to trying to conceive, ovulation tests can be confusing. In this blog, we hope to answer 6 of the most common questions regarding how to use ovulation tests and how ovulation tests work.
1. How to Read Ovulation Tests?
Most ovulation tests have two lines. The first line, closest to the absorbent tip of the strip, is the test line and indicates your ovulation status. The second line is the control line, and ensures the test works correctly.
Throughout your menstrual cycle, the darkness of the test line will change. It will be low before your fertile window, rise during your fertile window, and peak just before ovulation day. A positive result is indicated by a test line that is as dark or darker than the control line. On the other hand, a negative result is indicated by a test line that is lighter than the control line.
Understanding how to read the test line correctly is essential in identifying your most fertile days and increasing your chances of getting pregnant.
2. My Ovulation Test Is Positive, Now What?
Normally, if a test line is as dark or darker than the control line, it is a positive result. (For Premom quantitative tests 25 mIU/mL is a positive result.)
Actually -- and fortunately -- ovulation tests can tell you far more than a positive result as the tests darken with increasing LH levels demonstrating the rise and surge of luteinizing hormone (LH) occuring before ovulation.
When testing, a positive ovulation test doesn’t always mean you will ovulate in 24-36 hours. Rather, you want to look for your LH peak. Your LH peak is the last, darkest ovulation test you have and indicates that ovulation will occur 24-36 hours later.
Knowing some women may have positive test results for multiple days while others may only have positive results for a few hours is crucial. There are two types of luteinizing hormone (LH) surges in women: gradual LH onset and rapid LH onset. Monitoring your LH levels consistently over several cycles helps determine which type of LH surge pattern you have, making it easier to identify the appropriate time for testing.
If you use the Premom app, your app does all the work for you to show you when you are most fertile. Simply use your phone's camera to take a picture of your ovulation test strip and Premom interprets the result as low, high, or peak LH. See your fertile window and luteinizing hormone levels on one chart. No more guessing!
3. What Can You Interpret from an Easy@Home Ovulation Test?
You can monitor your LH progression throughout the ovulation cycle using the ‘chart view’ in the Premom app. You’ll not only know when LH reaches a peak with a positive ovulation test strip, but also learn your body’s typical ovulation pattern
An LH surge is easily detected if your LH surge reaches the standard cutoff of 25-45 mIU/mL (a T/C ratio of 1.0 or above). However, when the LH surge doesn't reach the standard average cutoff level, meaning the test line isn’t always as dark or darker than the control line you may still ovulate, you’re simply looking for the last, darkest day on your ovulation tests. Viewing the LH progression helps you to pinpoint the peak by monitoring your rise in LH levels starting from your baseline.
A lot of women wonder if they are not ovulating or not fertile, but that’s not necessarily true. See the example below. On Cycle Day 12 and Cycle Day 16 the test is positive, but the test line is still lighter than the control line.
In this situation, simply continue testing each day to find the darkest line from all the test lines, indicating your LH surge or peak day. When you observe your peak day, you can feel confident you’ll ovulate 24-36 hours later. You can also find out more about your patterns and your LH surge from Easy@Home ovulation tests and the Premom ovulation tracker. LH surges can be gradual, meaning the LH levels rise over a few days or rapidly, meaning that LH levels rise and fall in a matter of hours one day of your cycle.
While you are testing, keep this in mind: the last darkest line in one cycle signifies your LH peak.
Premom users can also view expert-designed cycle comparison and cycle analysis reports in our Premom Premium Membership. As they sound like, both reports deeply dive into your cycle patterns based on your ovulation test uploads, BBT, and symptoms logs to offer you more insights about your cycle patterns and ensure best practices while trying to conceive. For users with PCOS or irregular cycles, our cycle analysis and cycle comparison reports may be the right resource to support your TTC (trying to conceive) journey.
4. When To Start Ovulation Tests?
If you are new to testing, we recommend tracking your LH levels after the last day of your period so you don’t miss your LH surge.
You’ll want to start testing at least 5 days before your predicted ovulation date according to the app.
5. When is the Best Time to Take an Ovulation Test?
Test any time in the afternoon from 10:00 AM - 8:00 PM, as this is when LH levels tend to be highest, and you won’t miss the LH peak.
6. How Often Should I Test Daily?
If you are new to ovulation testing, consider testing twice a day between 10 AM and 8 PM to identify if you have a rapid LH surge (LH rising in just a few hours) or a gradual LH surge (LH rising over the course of a few days). After you know your pattern, you can test once a day if your LH surge lasts more than one day but twice a day when a surge is less than one day.
How DO YOU KNOW the Ovulation Test WORKED Correctly?
The two most important factors are urine reaction and results interpretation.
Different brands may have different instructions for urine handling. However, no matter what the brand, this test will run the best if you follow this tip:
Dip the white absorbent tip of the test into the urine up to the black “MAX” line and keep the tip in urine until the dye rises into the results window. (Est. time for Easy@Home brand: 5-10 seconds)
How To Interpret Ovulation Test Results
As stated earlier, a positive result is if the second strip is darker than the control line. (For Premom quantitative tests 25 mIU/mL is a positive result.)
Also, a positive result doesn’t always mean ovulation will begin in 24-48 hours, as many resources have incorrectly stated.
What Can You Determine from an Easy@Home Ovulation Test?
You can see your LH progression throughout the ovulation cycle. You not only know when LH reaches peak, but also know how it gets there.
An LH surge is easily detected if your LH surge reaches the standard cutoff of 25-45 mIU/mL (a T/C ratio of 1.0 or above). However, when the LH surge doesn't reach the standard average cutoff level, the test line isn’t always as dark or darker than the control line. Viewing the ovulation test strips' progression helps you pinpoint the peak by starting from your baseline.
A lot of women under this situation will think they are not ovulating or not fertile, but that’s not necessarily true. See the example below. On Cycle Day 12 and Cycle Day 16, it is positive, but the test line is still lighter than the control line.
If you have this situation, do more consecutive testing and find the darkest line from all the test lines. That’s your actual peak time.
You can find out more about your hormone patterns and your LH surge from testing with ovulation tests and uploading the results to the Premom app.
LH surges can be long, short, or medium.
But regardless of its complications, just keep this in mind: the darkest line from consecutive testing in one cycle is the peak time. Meanwhile, we strongly recommend tracking your ovulation with our free Premom app to help you find your fertile windows fast and easy!
Q: What does the T/C ratio mean on my ovulation test?
A: T/C ratio is a comparison of the color intensity of the test line to control line on a qualitative ovulation test. A positive ovulation test shows a T/C ratio above 1.0 or higher on the Premom app. If your LH levels ratios never reached 1.0 in the previous cycle, Premom adjusts its predictions in the following cycle to look for a positive when greater than 0.5.
Q: What should my LH hormone chart look like?
A: In most cases, your LH hormone chart should slowly increase over the course of a few days, ending in a peak and then rapidly declining, or swiftly increasing over the course of one day and then rapidly returning to baseline. Your LH pattern, gradual vs. rapid, will determine what the shape of your LH chart looks like. Some women also may experience a double peak or a plateau pattern before the true LH peak occurs.