Trying to Conceive: False-Positive OPK and Other Mistakes to Avoid
Trying to conceive is not an easy journey for many women. The Office On Women’s Health says that around 10 percent of women in the United States struggle to get pregnant or stay pregnant. There can be a great deal of stress and heartbreak during this process. Refrain from these avoidable mistakes that could negatively affect your conception goals.
1. Not Recording Your Menstrual Cycle Frequency
Women that are trying to conceive should carefully monitor their menstrual cycles. It´s regular for the first days of your periods to begin about the same number of days apart every month.
On the other hand, you could have an irregular cycle, meaning that the length of your menstrual cycle can vary each month. Tracking your cycle using the Mira Fertility Tracker can help you better predict when you’re ovulating. Furthermore, The American Pregnancy Association says an egg is fertile for just 12-24 hours after being released. Though, after ejaculation sperm can live in a women’s body for up to 5 days.
2. Not Maintaining a Healthy Body Weight
Being overweight or underweight can reduce your odds of conceiving. Research shows that women who are overweight take double the time to conceive compared to women with a healthy BMI. Mary Pavone, a Gynecology professor at Northwestern University states that underweight women may take four times longer to conceive compared to women with a healthy weight.
An excessive amount of body fat leads to an excessive amount of estrogen, which can negatively affect ovulation. An overweight woman can see significant boosts in their fertility from losing 5-10% of their body fat, according to the ASRM.
A study conducted in 2017 suggests that couples trying to get pregnant while both partners are obese may take 55-59% longer to conceive. This is in comparison to couples that aren’t obese. At the same time, underweight women may not have regular periods or even stop ovulating altogether.
3. Not Properly Checking your LH Surge
Many women use typical ovulation predictor kits (OPKs) to track their LH Surge. These kits can be easily confused with a pregnancy test since they both measure urine levels. The difference between the two is that ovulation tests predict levels of LH in your urine (more on reading an ovulation test here), while a positive pregnancy test detects the hCG hormone.
Most over-the-counter OPKs will give the user a positive result when there’s a certain amount of LH in your urine, but then it stops there. The Mira Fertility Tracker is able to display laboratory-grade hormone resting that will display your actual hormone concentration with 99% accuracy (No LH surge? Read this).
4. Consuming Low-Fat Dairy Products
Not being able to ovulate is a common reason for being non-fertile. There was a Harvard-affiliated study finding a strong relationship between infertility and dairy products. Women that had two servings a day of low-fat dairy products were 85 percent more likely to be infertile due to anovulatory condition, compared to women that had one daily serving of dairy.
In the study, women who had more than one daily serving of full-fat dairy foods such as butter were 25 percent less likely to become non-fertile because of ovulatory disorders. This was in comparison to women who would only eat full-fat dairy foods once a week.
5. Not Tracking your Luteinizing Hormone (LH)
The pituitary gland produces the luteinizing hormone. Throughout the menstrual cycle, the LH is secreted at lower levels. Although, during the midpoint of your cycle the LH hormone is secreted at extremely high levels. The process occurs once a developing egg follicle gets to a certain size. LH surge happens 24 – 36 hours before ovulation occurs.
Tracking your LH surge is important for those trying to conceive because it lets you know when the best time to get pregnant. Because after the egg is released for fertilization it can only live for up to 24 hours. After this period your fertile window is over until the next cycle.
6. Using Unreliable Tracking Methods
Relying on old school methods to help time intercourse sessions during your fertile period could be an obstacle to your conception. For instance, tracking your basal body temperature has a large room for human error. In addition, it can be influenced by diet and lifestyle.
Cervical mucus, a type of vaginal discharge is another common way to track ovulation. Certain changes in cervical mucus can be the result of outside factors as well. Fertility specialist
Thanos Papathanasiou states that your cervical mucus can be affected by stress. He says, “Rather than noticing increased wetness as you approach ovulation, you might find patches of wetness interspersed with dry days. It’s as if your body is trying to ovulate but the stress continues to delay it.”
✔️ Medically Reviewed by Banafsheh Kashani, MD, FACOG
Banafsheh Kashani, M.D., FACOG is a board-certified OB/GYN and specialist in reproductive endocrinology and infertility at Eden Fertility Centers, and has been treatingcouples and individuals with infertility since 2014.
Dr. Kashani has conducted extensive research in female reproduction, with a specific focus on the endometrium and implantation.
Additionally, Dr. Kashani has authored papers in the areas of fertility preservation, and fertility in women with PCOS and Turners syndrome. She also was part of a large SART-CORS study evaluating the trend in frozen embryo transfers and success rates.