Wednesday, 17 April 2013

#atozchallenge - OPKs

Way back at the beginning of the challenge I mentioned some of the confusing acronyms that you come up against when you’re trying for a baby and you wander into internet forums on the subject. OPK is one of those confusing little trios of letters that doesn’t actually mean a lot to the uninitiated.

It stands for Ovulation Prediction Kit and just like the HPT it’s generally a little stick that you pee on/dip in pee to check what’s going on with the hormones in your body. I actually knew about these back from watching Friends, though I didn’t know that I knew what they were (for fans of Friends, Monica uses them when she and Chandler are trying to get pregnant).

Just like HPTs you get various different sorts of them, there’s the dip or pee-on variety, as well as the funky Clear Blue digital ones which you’re only really going to want to spend your money on if you’re pretty certain about when you need to use them. Believe me, when you’ve been trying for over three years, all those pennies are going to add up! I always went for the cheapy ones on eBay because they usually came with a handful of HPTs in with them as well.

Unlike HPTs, OPKs will pretty much always show two lines on them. One is the control, which will appear immediately to show that they are working; the other line is the one measuring the hormone which is released when you ovulate. The closer you are to your ovulation date, the darker and bolder that line will be. When it’s as dark as, or darker than, the control, that’s when ovulation has happened.

For that reason you need to keep the sticks, or at least photos of them, to compare one day to the next to check exactly which day is the darkest. That’s why this works well if you’re charting because you can compare the changes to get a more accurate picture of what’s going on. It’s sad, but it’s a little bit exciting to see the two lines appear on one of these tests, particularly when you’ve never seen it happen on a pregnancy test before.

If you’re trying OPKs you should do them in the afternoon, not like HPTs which you do in the morning. It’s to do with when the hormone has built up in your body, and you get better results if you don’t go to the loo for a few hours before you do the test (I like to think of this as good practice for when I start the IVF because the instructions for at least one procedure tell you to go with a ‘comfortably full bladder’). Some people say aim for around 2pm, but I got the best results around 4pm.

Notice I’m speaking in past tense. That’s because although I have a nice little stash of OPKs upstairs in the cupboard, working shifts isn’t ideal for either charting or the OPKs because one week you’re comparing a 4:30pm test to a 4:30pm test and the next week you’re comparing them to a 7:30pm test, which is going to skew the results somewhat. Plus, I know that my ovaries are working fine now, it’s just the bit after that which is in trouble!

It was definitely useful to help me get my head around what was going on in my body though, and I’d definitely recommend it in conjunction with charting. Plus, it helps you to work out exactly when you can start using the HPTs, so probably saves you a bit of money too. Winking smile


  1. There is so much that goes into this whole process. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hehe, I really had no idea myself until I started!


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