Sometimes it can feel like information overload when it comes to everything you need to know while trying to conceive — and we get that! From taking your basal body temperature to ovulation tests to the timing of when to have sex with your partner, TTC can quickly become overwhelming. 

We like to meet you where you are and simplify things as much as possible. So, hopefully, knowing how often you should be taking an ovulation test when trying to get pregnant can help you feel slightly more informed and less stressed. 

When To Test for Ovulation

Let’s go back to the basics for a minute. Ovulation typically takes place in the middle of your menstrual cycle, which starts on the first day of your period. It is the process when one of your ovaries releases a mature egg into your fallopian tube, where it can live for about 12 to 24 hours, making it a small window of time to conceive a baby each month. Sperm, however, can live in your body for up to 5 days. So, even if you don’t have sex during that 24-hour ovulation window, you may still conceive if you’ve had sex a few days beforehand.

So, when should you whip out those ovulation predictor kits (OPKs)? This depends on the regularity of your menstrual cycle. You'll want to start by tracking the length of your cycle. Day 1 is the first day of your period, and the last day of your cycle is the day before your next period starts.

If you have a pretty regular menstrual cycle, predicting ovulation is easier. For instance, with a "normal" 28-day cycle, you’ll likely ovulate on or around day 14. Therefore, you should start testing around day 10 or 11. 

If you have an irregular cycle, things will look a bit different and you will have to test more frequently. You should start testing a few days after your period ends and then once every day thereafter. For example, if you have a shorter cycle, you should start testing 4 to 6 days prior to your cycle’s midpoint. If the length of your cycle changes from month to month, try using the shortest cycle you’ve had over the last six months to figure out when to start testing. Keeping a log of your period lengths and dates is always a good idea to track your body’s patterns! 

How Often To Test for Ovulation

In the days leading up to ovulation, you should be testing once per day until you detect a surge in the luteinizing hormone (LH) levels in your urine. This is the hormone that signals ovulation. LH levels surge about 24-48 hours before ovulation, so you will know exactly when your fertile window is. 

Testing for ovulation is best done in the morning when your urine is not diluted. So, avoid drinking anything before grabbing that pee stick, which is why most women find it easiest to do it first thing in the morning when they wake up. Being consistent and testing at the same time each day will also help you get more accurate results. 

When your test line is almost as dark as the control line on your test, then begin testing yourself twice a day so that you do not miss your LH surge. 

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Testing for ovulation should not add more stress to your plate. And forcing something to happen the second you detect a surge isn’t necessary, as you have a bit of a cushion thanks to sperm surviving up to 5 days inside of your fallopian tubes. Still, having knowledge about your body is powerful, and will increase your odds of conception. Wishing you the best of luck, and here’s to hoping this month is *the* month!

Brighid Flynn is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia where she lives with her husband and puppy. She is just beginning her journey toward motherhood.