Note: If this wasn’t a medicated cycle, I don’t know if I could say the same about these OPKs because I do have estrogen dominated PCOS… but since I used Clomid to ovulate, it controlled when the estrogen rose, which is exactly what I needed to detect. Plus, with taking Clomid on CDs 5-9 and not triggering ovulation with an HCG injection this time, it meant that I ovulated later than I normally would, which was fine with me because it meant more time for my lining to build and follies to mature! I needed these OPKs to help with my fertility window for that reason. That said, here’s my thoughts…
Up until now, my TTC journey has always included the cheapest of the cheap when it comes to ovulation predictor kits (OPK). Having PCOS means OPKs can be very unreliable, and I have found this to be especially true for myself. My hormone levels just don’t work the way the textbooks say they should. In the past, I haven’t been able to detect a LH surge until the day of ovulation – and by then, what’s the point? I’ve missed my fertility window!
This month, I decided to bite the bullet and figured if I’m going to spend $51 on Clomid (ouch), then I might as well do it right and spend $30 on OPKs. In the past, $30 in OPKs would mean 30+ OPKs because I’d buy the test strips cheaply online… unfortunately in this case, it meant I only got 10 for that $30. The mistake I made was buying them at Walmart instead of on Amazon. I mean, you all know how I feel about Amazon as it is… I really love using it. I don’t normally have buyer’s remorse, but in this case I do… but only from the cost perspective. A box of 20 tests is $35-37 on Amazon (depending on the day)… free shipping. I paid $30 for 10. Doh!
I don’t have buyer’s remorse when it comes to buying something that works. I’m tired of reading lines, pulling tests back out of the trash to see if it got darker (don’t judge me), over-analyzing them. I wanted something simple and direct. I ended up being inspired by Elisha at Waiting For Baby Bird (*waves* Hi Elisha!) to try the ClearBlue Advanced tests because they detect your high and peak fertility times based on your estrogen levels in addition to the LH that most OPKs look for. So once your estrogen starts to rise, you can expect a blinky smiley face like she talked about in her What The Blink?! post, followed by a solid smiley meaning your LH surge is here and you’re about to ovulate. That’s the idea anyway. ClearBlue explains on their website: “If the necessary changes in estrogen are detected the Holder will display High Fertility and if the necessary changes in LH are detected the Holder will display Peak Fertility.” <–THAT, my friends, is why I decided these tests had to be worth it and why I recommend them if you have PCOS. Detecting the change in estrogen and LH?! Really?! It only increases my chances of conception by giving me a wider fertility window, versus the standard OPK; which, for whatever reason tells me I’m ovulating when it’s too late to do anything about it… and half the time I never see a positive or I can’t tell if the test is really positive or not. I don’t know why my body does that… I guess it’s just good ‘ol PCOS.
These worked for me way better than the test strips of my past. I started testing on CD 9 and had a blank circle on days 9, 10 and 11 (expected). Then, I had four days of blinky smileys (high fertility) on days 12, 13, 14 and 15. On day 16, I got my solid smiley. Based on the ovary activity I had on day 16 (they felt very swollen), and the really low temp that morning, I’m assuming I ovulated on day 16. Yep, I’m in the 2ww! And as suspected, I got my “peak fertility” sign the day of ovulation. THIS is why I need these tests. I would have missed my window on a standard OPK.
For me, being on a Clomid cycle, these tests were soooo worth it. I am glad that I invested, but I won’t make the financial mistake of buying from Walmart again. Amazon all the way, baby! Literally!
With having PCOS, my doctor recommended I use an OPK multiple times a day because of how inconsistent the LH surge can be, and how quickly it can come and go. Using these tests has made it so much easier on me… the tests know where my levels are and tell me where they are going – way better than any cheapy strip I’ve ever used. The best part is I feel fine using them once a day.
NOTE: the instructions say to use first morning urine, just like you would for a pregnancy test, but that is not accurate. LH surges usually happen after being awake for a few hours. In fact, most sources I’ve read say to wait until at least after 10 AM, preferably in the afternoon (source, source). My doctor always recommended testing four hours after being awake, then in the afternoon, then in the evening. The detectable amount of LH in your urine does not work the way HCG does, so keep that in mind when using these tests. For me, I make sure I don’t pee before leaving work in the afternoon, and I test as soon as I get home at about 6:00.
Have you ever used these tests? What was your experience? Is there an OPK you like better?