Women trying to become pregnant may have heard of something called the “LH surge method”. It’s a method used to increase the chances of conception. But what is LH? What is LH surge? And more importantly, how is LH related to fertility?
Let’s start with the basics, what is LH?
LH or luteinizing hormone is a hormone secreted by a small gland in the brain called the pituitary gland, both men and women have small amounts of this hormone in their system at any given time. However, LH rises to high levels to signal the start of ovulation in women. This big increase in LH is what we call the LH surge. After 24-36 hours of the LH surge, ovulation happens. Ovulation is the release of a mature egg from the ovary. After ovulation, the egg will remain viable for about 24 hours. Fertilization should occur during this period.
Why is LH surge important for women who are trying for a baby?
Pregnancy starts when a mature egg from the ovary meets with sperm from the father. This is called fertilization. To conceive, women should have unprotected intercourse during their fertile days, or the “fertile window”. If you’re a woman trying for a baby, your best chance of becoming pregnant is to have unprotected sex during the LH surge.
But how to test for LH surge?
The best ways to test for LH surge are:
- Getting a blood test from a doctor.
- Using home tests that are found in OPKs “ovulation predictor kits”.
The most common method is to use the tests available in “ovulation predictor kits (OPKs)”. These tests are similar to pregnancy tests. They measure LH levels in the urine. And you can buy them without a prescription from a pharmacy or order them online. And because each kit is different, it is important to follow the instructions carefully. All tests are relatively simple to use.
Understanding the Results
A positive result means that a person has a high amount of LH in their system. If you’re a woman expecting ovulation, a positive result means ovulation has occurred or is about to occur. Either way now is the right time to start having unprotected sex, preferably multiple times. If you and your partner have no fertility issues, there’s a good chance of becoming pregnant.
LH levels decrease after ovulation, so the tests will show negative results after ovulation has happened.
You need to understand that timing is everything, if you test too late in the cycle, you will miss the LH surge.
It’s also important to tell your doctor if you have a positive result every time you take a test, or if you never get a positive result at all. In such cases, you may have fertility issues.
Should I test for LH surge every day during the cycle?
The answer is NO, of course. You should start testing a few days before the time you expect to ovulate. A woman who has her period regularly every 28 days is expected to ovulate on day 14, but this can vary. Women with shorter cycles should test earlier. Most women ovulate between 7 and 19 days before the start of their next. The best way is to track ovulation over a few months, this will help you understand your body’s trends so you become better at tracking ovulation.
Can you trust OPKs?
Most women find OPKs simple and reliable. However, OPKs may not be the right choice for all women. In the following situations, OPKs may not be reliable:
- Women who have irregular cycles may find testing difficult and unreliable.
- Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) may have elevated levels of LH throughout their cycles. The test might show positive results constantly.
- Women approaching menopause may also have high levels of LH, making test results unreliable.
If you think OPKs are not the right option for you, you can ask your doctor for a blood test. The doctor will take a few tests to identify the fertile period for you.
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