What’s a Negative Ovulation Test?

Tracking ovulation is a common habit for women all over the world.

Whether you’re trying to conceive, or avoiding pregnancy, knowing when you’re ovulating is a crucial part of the process. Traditionally, tracking ovulation relied heavily on period tracking, basal cell temperature, and cervical mucus changes. However, for women who are trying to conceive, enlisting an ovulation tracking kit is often the more effective way of determining whether or not you’re ovulating or not.


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How Do Ovulation Tests Work?


Ovulation tests, also known as ovulation predictor kits (or OPKs), can be picked up at your local drugstore or online. These tests track various fertility related hormones, including luteinizing hormone (LH) in the urine throughout the month. Most drug-store OPKs operate with an industry-standard luteinizing hormone baseline. Several factors, including how much your LH levels surge throughout the month compared to this baseline, can result in a false negative.


What Is Luteinizing Hormone?


Luteinizing hormone (LH) is also referred to as the ovulation hormone due to its critical job in ovulation. LH triggers the release of an egg from the ovary to be fertilized. 24 to 36 hours before ovulation, your LH levels will become elevated.


For couples who are trying to conceive, this is the time that you’re most fertile and the best window for timing intercourse.


Why Is My Ovulation Test Negative?


There are plenty of reasons that an ovulation test can be negative, including the most obvious – you are not currently ovulating. Other reasons why an ovulation test can come back negative (show that your LH levels are not elevated) include:


1.     Variable Length of Cycle


As women, we’ve been told that our cycles are 28 days. On average, they are. However, individual cycles can last anywhere between 21 and 25 days. Track when your periods are to see how long your cycle usually is.

2.     Test Timing


When you take your ovulation test can affect your results. Most people have a surge in LH in the morning, which can be picked up by the test a couple of hours later. Testing in the afternoon is a good way to catch this LH spike.


3.     Predicting Your Cycle Incorrectly


Similarly to mistake number one, you may be incorrectly predicting your cycle and when ovulation even occurs. Don’t assume that your ovulation falls 14 days before the end of your cycle. Instead, get to know your body by testing throughout the month.


Look out for subtle changes in your body that signal that ovulation is taking place. Pay attention to changes in cervical mucus, breast tenderness, increased sex drive, and increased basal body temperature. 


4.    Qualitative, Not Quantitative Results


Many over-the-counter OPK’s just tell you if you’re ovulating or not, without letting you see your actual results. By not seeing your levels throughout the month, there is a chance your LH surge is below the generic threshold these tests use, resulting in a false negative.


By investing in an ovulation kit that shows your results, no thresholds will be used when measuring your LH baseline. 


5.    Ovulation Disorders


Though rare, ovulation disorders can lead to negative ovulation tests. If you feel like you may be suffering from any of these symptoms, it’s best to seek an appointment with your physician today:

  • Irregular periods
  • Hair loss
  • Weight gain
  • Loss of period
  • Excessive body hair growth
  • Acne
  • Inability to conceive after six months


With help from a physician, you can address these concerns and continue on your fertility journey, or find other options for you. Common ovulation disorders include: PCOS, ovarian cysts, luteal phase defects, etc.


What Are My Next Steps?


If you’re on your journey trying to conceive, consider an ovulation test that provides quantitative results. By seeing your actual results throughout the month, you’ll be able to get a clear read on whether your ovulation test is truly negative or not.