At-Home Fertility Tests
The OvuLook Ovulation Tester
Pro: Claims to let you track hormonal shifts 72 hours before ovulation (that's 36 to 48 hours ahead of a urine test).
Cons: You're the scientist, looking in a mini-microscope for fernlike patterns, which leaves room for error, says Richard Paulson, M.D., chief of the division of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine. Plus, eating, drinking, and even brushing your teeth may throw results off. "Urine tests are the most accurate on the market," says Dr. Paulson, "so why use something else?"
Pros: Privacy and convenience.
Cons: The test only measures quantity of sperm, not quality. "In a professional analysis, we measure count, size, and shape, and we determine whether sperm are alive, among other things," says Dr. Paulson.
Bottom line Ovulation monitors can help you understand your cycle, but the most effective way to get pregnant is to take advantage of your six- to ten-day fertility window by having sex every other day in the first half of your cycle. Why? "Since sperm live three or more days but an egg lives only twenty-four hours, it's important for sperm to be waiting for the egg," says Dr. Paulson.
And as for the male test: If you've been trying for six months or more, both of you should get a basic fertility checkup from a doctor. "You'll want to know sooner rather than later if either of you has an abnormality," says Dr. Paulson.