At-home female fertility tests have become increasingly popular in recent years as more and more couples try to conceive. They are convenient, cheap and serve up the results almost instantaneously. But how accurate are these tests?
About 15% of married couples in Singapore are unable to get pregnant within 12 months of trying for a baby. If you are one of them, you may have tried using a fertility test kit to track your ovulation. It works by measuring the levels of certain hormones in your urine, which can indicate whether or not you are ovulating – which increases your chance of pregnancy. These tests can be done right at the comfort of your own home.
How Do They Work?
There are a few different types of female fertility test kits available in the market. The most popular type is an at-home ovulation predictor kit (OPK). These tests work by detecting the presence of luteinizing hormone (LH) in your urine. LH is produced by the pituitary gland and surges just before ovulation.
OPKs come in both digital and non-digital forms. Digital OPKs are generally more expensive but may be easier to use. Non-digital OPKs usually involve using a test strip to dip into a urine sample. The test strip will change color to indicate the presence of LH.
Another type of fertility kit is an at-home basal body temperature (BBT) tracker. This method involves taking your temperature first thing in the morning every day and tracking it on a chart. You can look for patterns in your temperature changes to predict when you are ovulating.
While fairly accurate, these kits are not foolproof. Below are some of the factors that can affect the accuracy of your at-home fertility tests:
Irregular Menstrual Cycles
An irregular period can make it difficult to determine the timing of ovulation. As you should know a lot about your menstrual cycle and patterns before using at-home test kits, you could be testing for ovulation at the wrong time without realising it.
Menstrual disorders such as menorrhagia and amenorrhea are also extremely disrupting to a woman monitoring her periods. As at-home fertility test kits require women to time their cycles and test within a specific time frame, irregular periods or even a total absence of one can affect the accuracy of ovulation kits.
Certain health conditions can lead to false positives on at-home fertility test kits. For example, Women who have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) may experience false small peaks of LH. The same goes for those who have just reached menopause or were recently pregnant.
Additionally, certain prescription medications can also affect your fertility results. They include:
- hCG injections
Not Performing Test Correctly
One of the most important things you can do when trying to conceive is to make sure you’re performing fertility tests correctly. Unfortunately, many couples do not realise there are right and wrong ways to go about it. For OPKs, the urine collector cup should be sterile and clean to prevent contamination. The test strip should also be inserted into the urine properly. Many couples make the mistake of not inserting the strip all the way in, which can lead to inaccurate results.
While using a thermometer is fairly straightforward, some women may still administer it in the wrong way. Things like drinking alcohol and eating late at night can also affect your basal body temperature, which will lead to a false reading for those using the BBT method.
See a Fertility Doctor Instead
Trying to conceive can be a stressful and emotional time. While test kits can give you some useful information, they often do not offer the same level of analysis and insight that a fertility doctor can provide. Your doctor will be able to check your hormone levels or put you on other diagnostic tests to find out the root cause of your fertility conditions.
At The O&G Specialist Clinic, our fertility specialists will also be able to provide you with individualised treatments by taking into account your unique situation and recommend the right treatment options that are most likely to work for you, such as in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) or intrauterine insemination (IUI), which are both popular fertility methods in Singapore.
Schedule an appointment with us today to find out how we can help.