When you’re trying to get pregnant, you might you’re recommended various different fertility devices that fall under the banner of ‘fertility monitors’. They work in different ways, and provide different results, and it can be difficult to understand why you need one at all, let alone which one you should choose.

Today, we’re here to help by taking a look at these devices and explaining just what they can do for you.

Measuring Fertility

Your fertility is a hard to thing to sum up as a single figure – there’s no test that will tell you if you’re at, say, 65% of maximum fertility. Fertility is a complex topic, and doctors can mostly make observations about it, rather than testing for it as they’d test for cholesterol. For example, if you’ve been trying to conceive through regular, unprotected intercourse for a year without success, they can observe that you may have some fertility issues, and talk about your chances of conceiving in the following year.

What fertility monitors do is to help to boost your chances of conceiving (effectively, therefore, boosting your fertility) by identifying the days in your cycle when you’re at your most fertile. These are the days around when you ovulate, the so-called fertile window, when sperm have the best chance of surviving to meet the egg and fertilise it. If you’re not consciously trying to focus on your fertile window when you’re trying to get pregnant, you’re not giving yourself the best chance.

How Do They Work

There are two main factors that fertility monitors use to determine when you’re due to ovulate. The first is your hormone levels. To make your ovaries release that egg, your brain creates a surge of Luteinising Hormone, and high levels of oestrogen. Your body is also higher in some electrolyte salts when it’s ovulating.

Some tests look for high level of LH in your urine – these work like pregnancy tests, with a coloured line showing on the results strip that indicates whether you’re ovulating. More sophisticated tests of this sort (OPKs or ovulation predictor kits) give a digital readout that’s easier to interpret.

Other hormone-based tests look at your saliva, testing oestrogen and electrolytes. You can test your saliva yourself, by allowing it to try and then looking at it under a magnifying glass. As the concentration of electrloytes grows, you’ll see a ferning pattern emerge as it dries, like frost on a window.

Unfortunately these hormone based tests are less useful if you have a hormone based condition like PCOS. A better measure is to use a specialist thermometer to chart your Basal Body Temperature. Devices that use this measure can give you an accurate prediction of your peak fertility for the month even if OPKs don’t work!

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