What Does a Positive Midstream Ovulation Test Stick Look Like?
Originally published 05/26/2020. Updated for accuracy and relevancy on 10/11/2023.
In this guide, we share how ovulation tests work, how to read your midstream ovulation test results, and show you actual results from real women who have used Natalist Ovulation Tests to get pregnant.
By Halle Tecco, MBA, MPH
Ovulation tests (aka ovulation predictor kits or OPKs) are an easy, affordable, and clinically proven way to identify your fertile window. They help you get to know your body and its variations and identify the time when you're most likely to conceive.
The midstream Natalist Ovulation Test stick is designed to be easy to use, but it’s always helpful to see what results could look like. In this guide, we’ll share more about how to read ovulation tests and show you actual results from real women who have used midstream Natalist Ovulation Test sticks to get pregnant.
How Do Ovulation Tests Work?
Ovulation testing can help some increase their chances of getting pregnant, as long as they are used correctly. For others, ovulation testing isn’t as helpful. While lab testing has been found to be more effective, at-home ovulation testing can be more convenient. Although they aren’t guaranteed to be effective, these tests can be very useful in determining your peak fertility. So, let's discuss how ovulation tests work.
Similarly to pregnancy tests, ovulation tests work by identifying the presence of a hormone in urine. While pregnancy tests measure human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), ovulation tests measure luteinizing hormone (LH). LH is produced by the anterior pituitary cells in the brain, and they signal to your ovaries that it’s time to ovulate. About 24-48 hours before ovulation, your brain will release a spike of LH called the LH surge. Ovulation tests can detect this surge in your urine, causing a dark line to appear in the test window. When you get a positive test, you are releasing a mature egg very soon and are in the middle of your fertile window—when you are most likely to conceive—so now is the time to take action if you’re trying to make a baby this month. Next steps are to take a prenatal vitamin, use sperm-friendly lubricant, and have some fun!
How To Read Your Ovulation Test Results
Follow the test instructions, pee on the stick (be careful not to pee above the designated area) or put the test in a small cup of urine, and wait a few minutes for the result. Then, take a look at the test window which can display up to two lines:
- One for the control line (C) to make sure the test worked
- And another, the test line (T), which shows the ovulation test result.
Unlike a pregnancy test, seeing two lines on an ovulation test is not necessarily a positive result, since your body makes LH at low levels throughout your cycle.
If the test line (T) is as dark or darker than the control line (C), you have a positive test, and you'll likely ovulate within approximately the next 36 hours. If you want to get pregnant this month, now is the time to have vaginal sexual intercourse.
What Can Affect Ovulation Test Results?
There are many factors that can influence ovulation test results, so before you compare your results or cycle to someone else's, keep the following in mind:
- Everyone has their own unique urinary LH level pattern. Ovulation usually happens mid-cycle, so if your menstrual cycle lasts around 28 days, you’ll likely ovulate on Day 14. Though a 28-day cycle is the most common scenario, you may have a different pattern that you want to catch.
- Your LH surge will start around 24-48 hours before ovulation, and the length of your LH surge can vary.
- Your negative test results may look different from these examples. Baseline LH levels generally range from 1.9 - 14.6 IU/L (a positive result will appear when LH levels reach 25 IU/L).
Examples of Ovulation Test Results
Here are real examples of ovulation test results to show you what to look for and just how much test results can vary.
1. Day 15 of a 28-Day Cycle
These are test results from a 33-year-old woman with a 28-day cycle who tested every morning starting on cycle day 13 (CD 13). On day 15, she saw her peak LH results, where the test line was as dark as the control line. She tested again on cycle day 15 and saved the remaining tests in the box for the next month.
2. Day 14 of a 28-Day Cycle
These are test results from a 34-year old woman with a 28-day cycle who tested every 12 hours starting on cycle day 12. On day 14, she saw her peak fertility results in the evening. She continued testing until cycle day 17.
3. Day 14 of a 28-Day Cycle
These are test results from a 26-year old woman with a 28-day cycle and unexplained fertility. She tested once every morning starting on cycle day 11. On the morning of Day 14, she saw her peak LH surge. She continued testing until Day 15.
4. Abnormal Cycle Ovulation Test Results
These are daily test results from a 36-year old woman who does not have a normal 28-day cycle. She started testing on Day 8, and saw her strongest result on Day 11. However, it is not a strong LH surge. Not everyone gets a strong LH surge result. It could be because it happened in the afternoon and she tested in the morning. Or it could be that her LH surge wasn’t very strong to begin with. She should try testing again next cycle, and if ovulation is not detected in two or more cycles in a row, it’s time to talk to an OBGYN.
5. Day 16 Positive Result
These are daily test results from a 33-year old woman with a regular menstrual cycle. She began testing on Day 13 of her cycle and peaked in the evening of Day 16 through the morning of Day 17.
6. Mild Premature Ovarian Failure Test Results
These are the daily test results from a 34 year old woman who had a Liletta IUD for two years before TTC and experienced mild premature ovarian failure. You can see the darkest line is on Day 16; however, it is not as dark as the control line.
7. Negative Ovulation Test Results
These are daily results from a 22-year old woman with a regular 33-day cycle who tested once a day, first thing in the morning. None of these are a positive test result, so she should continue testing until the test line is as dark as the control line.
8. Day 20 Positive Result
These are test results from a 35-year old woman with an irregular cycle who tested every morning starting on cycle day 15. On day 15, she captured her baseline results and tested each morning (8 am) until an LH peak or surge was present. On cycle day 20 she found an LH peak and tested twice to confirm, once in the am and once in the pm.
What to Keep in Mind
A positive ovulation strip is a sign that your body is trying to ovulate, but it doesn’t guarantee that an egg was released. It’s rare but possible for LH to surge without actual ovulation. Combining ovulation test results with other tracking methods, like basal body temperature monitoring can help confirm ovulation.
As you can see, menstrual cycles are different from person to person—and also from month to month. Ovulation tests are a useful tool to inform and educate you on your journey to parenthood; they help you get to know your body and its variations so that you can identify the time when you're most likely to conceive.
If you want to support a regular menstrual cycle and healthy ovulation, consider a supplement such as inositol. You can also bundle and save on products for ovulation support with Natalist Cycle Support Bundle! As always, remember to speak to your healthcare provider before taking any new supplements.