July 7, 2011

At Home Fertility Testing: Keeping the Ball in Your Court and Scoring!

The intention of any screening test is to provide fast, cost-effective and reliable tests that require little intervention. In the billion-dollar industry of home fertility assessment the hat can be hung on ovulation predictor kits (LH kits).

Leutenizing hormone is the unsung hero of the menstrual cycle. It is released in the pituitary gland in pulse-like pattern. Its timing and amount released dictates the progression of the menstrual cycle. Most importantly, it is the signal that allows the egg to undergo maturation and to be ovulated.

There is a low-level pulse frequency in the first stage of the menstrual cycle as the egg grows. When the pituitary gland within the brain senses that the egg is ready, it release a large pulse of LH (Leutinizing hormone). It takes approximately 14 hours to reach maximum concentration during the surge. The surge last approximately 14 hours as well and is best appreciated in the midafternoon with urinary LH kits.

The advantage to the LH surge kit is two-fold. Firstly, it accurately predicts ovulation greater than 90%. Secondly, it predicts when ovulation is to occur and does not verify that it has past. This fact is extremely important in conception. The highest chance of pregnancy occurs when the sperm is deposited the in the vaginal tract prior to ovulation. Thus, the LH surge allow for a small lag between LH surge demonstration and ovulation. Those women with irregular cycles may have difficulty appreciating an LH surge or it may be missed if the LH begins to surge but has not met the lower limit of positivity for the test.

Multiple non-prescription LH detection kits are available and vary in both price and technology. Most tests have very acceptable LH sensitivity detection and it is often best to find a test that the user finds both easy to use and interpret while not being too difficult on the pocketbook.

The LH kits are very reasonable first steps to predicting and charting ovulation and menstrual cycles. From this information, you and your physicans glean valued information regarding the menstrual cycle. However, it is important to note that if you have demonstrated 12 LH surges and you are without a pregnancy, it may be time to seek additional assistance from a fertility specialist. If you older than 35, seek attention if you have demonstrated six ovulatory cycles.

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Danielle Vitiello, Ph.D., M.D.

Danielle Vitiello, Ph.D., M.D. Board-Certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology, Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility