Reasons for a Negative Ovulation Test and How to Fix Them
Tracking your ovulation period is a must-do for couples trying to conceive or avoid pregnancy. You’ll probably use all sorts of methods to track ovulation – the time you are most fertile. The natural family planning method is a method of birth control that does not use any drugs or devices, yet still tracks ovulation using calendar/rhythm, cervical mucus, and basal body temperature.
The most accurate way to track and predict your ovulation timing is to use an ovulation tracker. For example, The Mira method of analyzing fertility hormones gives you specific fertility hormone concentration levels. Ovulation predictor kits (OPK) are able to track the luteinizing hormone (LH) levels in your body, which surge about 24 to 36 hours right before ovulation, but because OPKs detect ovulation off a static baseline LH, it can cause many false positives. LH is an important factor in ovulation as it stimulated the final maturation of your eggs before one is released to hopefully become fertilized. Without this hormone present in your urine, your ovulation test will return a negative result (more on how to read an ovulation test here).
You can better control your LH hormone level with the Mira Fertility Tracker, which provides exact level of hormones and uses AI to learn your changing hormone patterns. This is put together in a highly personalized and accurate ovulation prediction and gives you fertility advice specific to you.
Sometimes women suffer from disorders that affect their ability to ovulate regularly. Although, repeated negative tests can due to a variety of explanations, and don’t always point to fertility issues. Before assuming the worst-case scenario, try considering the many other reasons that you could be receiving a negative result on your ovulation test.
Can you Ovulate without the Luteinizing Hormone(LH)?
LH is produced by your pituitary gland. Your body will not ovulate without a sufficient amount of LH. Because ovulation is triggered by LH, the hormone is commonly referred to as the “ovulation hormone”. This hormone is usually produced at low levels during the first half of the menstrual cycle, then surges right before you ovulate.
Around the midpoint of your cycle, your follicles (containing growing eggs) develop to a certain size. When your follicles reach the desired size, indicating that the egg inside is mature, a signal is sent to your brain, causing the release of LH and resulting in ovulation 24 to 36 hours later. If you’re trying to conceive, the best time to have unprotected sex is once your LH levels surge. Ovulation happens when a mature egg is released from the ovary, signaling the beginning of your fertile days. After the mature egg is released it is ready to be fertilized within about 12 to 24 hours. If the egg isn’t fertilized within this time then pregnancy does not occur, resulting in the start of your next menstrual period. Because sperm can survive in the female reproductive system for 5-7 days, you don’t need to have sex within this 12-24 hour period to conceive.
Are you Testing at The Right Time?
Although fertility tracker kits are reliable, most women don’t use them every day. A common reason that many women keep receiving negative tests is that they use fertility tests days before they think they’re ovulating. While this method may work in a perfect world, there are many reasons for women to miscalculate their ovulation period, leading to negative results. This is why getting tested every day for at least one month (and knowing when to take the ovulation test), is your safest bet.
1. Mistake One: Using Wrong Tracking Methods
Methods to predict ovulation like tracking basal body temperature, or cervical mucus are helpful guidelines but not the status quo. Many things like lifestyle, diet and genetics can alter your signs of ovulation, causing you to think you’re ovulating when you’re actually not.
2. Mistake Two: Mispredicting your Cycles using calendars
Using the calendar method is another mistake that can lead to a negative test result especially when you’re only testing a handful of times per menstrual cycle. Most ovulation calendars determine your next ovulation date by using an average menstrual cycle length of 28 days and then move it back by 14 days. However, this only works for people with very regular and average cycles. You can map out your ovulation based on your cycle length and the start date of your last period; However, cycle lengths and ovulation periods may regularly shift based off of your lifestyle and health condition.
3. Mistake 3: Misreading the Length of your Cycle
Miscalculating the length of your menstrual cycle is a simple reason as to why your test results are coming back negative. Many people assume that their cycle is 28 days long because that is the average. Nevertheless, a normal cycle can range anywhere from 21 to 35 days for adults and a 21 to 45 day cycle for young teenagers. This could possibly lead to you missing your ovulation period by more than a week.
4. Mistake 4: What Time are you Testing?
Pregnancy tests and ovulation(LH) tests work similarly. For pregnancy tests, the best time to measure your urine sample is in the morning. This is when the hCG hormone levels are at the highest concentration in your urine. hCG is known as the pregnancy hormone, which increases after conception.
An ovulation test to detect the LH hormone is best done slightly later in the day. Your LH hormone levels generally peak in the early afternoon. Meaning that you should take your test at around noon to increase your chances of a positive ovulation test. Other medical professionals, recommend sampling your first urine sample of the day. Since the hormone is detectable for about 10 hours after your brain releases it, so there is a small margin for error. Testing yourself at night time is most likely to end in a negative test result.
Signs of an Ovulation Issue
Sometimes there is an underlying issue behind not being able to track your ovulation. There are questions you should ask yourself to help decide whether or not you possibly have an ovulation disorder.
Physical signs you may have an ovulation disorder:
- Irregular periods or no periods
- Excessive hair growth on face, back, or chest
- Hair loss or thinning
- Weight gain
- Acne flare-ups
- Trouble conceiving after six months of frequent sex(one year after age 35)
If you answer yes to any of the questions below, then you may have an ovulation disorder:
- Have you used the Mira Fertility tracker every day for a month and only received a negative result?
- Are you testing your urine at the right time?
- Are you tracking and noticing other symptoms of ovulation?
- Have you been continuously having sex for at least one year, or six months if you’re over 35?
There are many things that get in the way of ovulating, and it’s best to see a medical professional get to the bottom of this. Being proactive in your fertility will result in the best-case scenario for you and your chances of conceiving.
✔️ Medically Reviewed by Dr Roohi Jeelani, MD, FACOG and Lauren Grimm, MA
Dr Roohi Jeelani is Director of Research and Education at Vios Fertility Institute in Chicago, Illinois. Dr Jeelani earned her medical degree from Ross University School of Medicine in Portsmouth, Dominica. She then completed a residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology and a fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at Wayne State University, Detroit Medical Center, where she was awarded a Women’s Reproductive Health NIH K12 Research Grant. She is board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr Jeelani has authored numerous articles and abstracts in peer-reviewed journals, and presented her research at national and international scientific meetings. A Fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Dr Jeelani is a member of the American Medical Association, the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, and the American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists.
Lauren Grimm is Research Coordinator at Vios Fertility Institute in Chicago, Illinois. Lauren earned her bachelor’s degree from Loyola University Chicago, where she also completed her masters in Medical Sciences. Lauren has worked alongside Dr. Jeelani for the last 3 years, authoring a number of abstracts and articles in peer-reviewed journals, and presented her research at national and international scientific conferences. Lauren will be continuing her education this fall at Rush University Medical College in Chicago, IL as an MD candidate.
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