Best home ovulation monitors: An evidence-based review

Updated November 20, 2019

Are you looking to purchase an ovulation monitoring product to time intercourse? Guess what, you don’t need to buy anything. Truth is, zero high quality studies have shown that ovulation tracking methods (LH strips, wearable devices, saliva tests, ovulation apps, calendar method or basal body temperature) conclusively improve your chances of getting pregnant when compared to the ol’ fashioned method of just having sex 1.  If you want to get pregnant, save yourself time and money.  Just try my free AND exclusive fertility window intercourse plan:  HAVE LOTS OF SEX.  The plan is simple.  Starting the day your period is done, have sex every other day.  Voila, you’re officially having sex during your 6 day fertility window!  With my HAVE LOTS OF SEX plan, you have a 33% chance of pregnancy each cycle, nearly the same as if you had sex every single day on ONLY your most fertile days (37%) 2.

Not convinced my HAVE LOTS OF SEX plan is for you, but still want a baby NOW NOW NOW? I understand. Sex every other day wasn’t for me either, which started me down this road of researching how to best time intercourse, what products deserve my money (if any), and which ones to avoid.  If the why / how / what and do’s and dont’s of sex bores you, click the links below to cut straight to LH Test Kits and Wearable Ovulation Trackers.

Prefer to skip directly to the top picks?

Time your intercouse. Or Not. HAVE LOTS OF SEX™.

How important is having sex right around the time you ovulate if you want to get pregnant? Pretty much super important.  Here’s why. 1) If you have sex just once a month on a random day, your odds of getting pregnant are low, 3.1% each cycle (month) 3. 2) Nearly all babies are conceived during your 6 day fertility window, and 70% of babies are conceived in the 3 day window which ends on the day you ovulate 1. 3) Even if you have a gut feeling you can tell when you ovulate each month, you likely can’t 4 . 4) Your menstrual cycle (and thus date you ovulate) can vary a lot from cycle to cycle 5.

Putting those 4 pieces of research together, it is clear that random, infrequent sex gives you very low odds of getting pregnant, your fertility window each month is short and variable, and you can’t “just tell” if and when you ovulate. All that to say, yes, you really do need some sort of ovulation prediction method if you want to time your intercouse. Or not. Just HAVE LOTS OF SEX.

Best Home Options: LH Test Strips and Wearable Ovulation Trackers. 

Of the methods used to predict when you will ovulate to time intercouse, Urine LH Test Strips and Wearable Ovulation Trackers are the most common commercially available options and have research supporting they actually work. But which one is better? It depends. And it’s complicated. 

After exhaustive review of the pros and cons of LH test strips and Wearable Ovulation Trackers, here’s what I would do: If money is no object, I would get the Ava Fertility Bracelet with 1 year pregnancy guarantee, and the Pregmate budget LH test strips. I would use the LH test strips and the Ava Fertility Bracelet for the first two months together while the Ava reached full accuracy, and after two months only use the Ava.  If I were older than 35 or have already been trying to conceive for some time without success, I would get the Ava. If I had a hormone disorder like PCOS, I would get Ovusense. If I was an individual that needed to visualize all the details about my cycle, the date I ovulated, ect, I would get the Ava. If I were like the large majority of you wishing to get pregnant- young (ish), healthy and just starting out trying to conceive- I would HAVE LOTS OF SEX , and get a budget LH urine test kit like the one from Pregmate (save your cash for diapers, or better yet, invest in a Roth IRA). 

Worst Home Options:

Yep. I’m aware your sister got pregnant using one of the options below such as a fertility app, and your cousin and her two friends used a fertility calendar and they also got pregnant in the first cycle of trying. Still, use these worst options at your own risk. Better yet, use these worst options and HAVE LOTS OF SEX as a back up plan!

1: Fertility Apps and Ovulation Calendars. Fertility Apps predict ovulation based on your past menstrual history, instead of the current cycle (month). Your ovulation date varies from month to month so your past ovulation date and past menstrual cycle history are not a good predictor of the next month. Numerous studies on fertility apps and ovulation calendars have shown that they are “generally inaccurate and unreliable.”

But they are cheap, easy and fun, what's the harm? Well, if you have sex only during “high fertility” dates that an app or calandar tells you, and they’re wrong, you won’t get pregnant.  And you might think you can’t conceive when in fact, you’re just mistiming intercourse. I would also avoid using any fertility apps that combine other inaccurate features such as oral thermometers. Two wrongs do not make a right and adding two inaccurate strategies together still equals: use your backup plan, HAVE LOTS OF SEX™.

2: Basal body temperature , or BBT. This is an older method that involves first establishing your body’s base temperature at rest, then looking for the slight dip in temperature a few days before your LH surge, followed by a rise in temperature after ovulation. I would avoid using oral basal body temperature readings. Many studies over 30 years have concluded it’s inaccurate 8 .  Why? It’s kind of cumbersome to do and successful use requires super accurate temperature.  And unfortunately, many variables other than ovulation especially affect your temperature such as alcohol, stress, illness, poor sleep and travel. If you really want to use BBT and want an accurate way to do it, look at the wearable ovulation device section as many of the devices specialize in the BBT method.

3): Salivary ferning: I had no idea what salivary ferning was until I started researching it myself. Basically, you look at your own spit under a neat little microscope and when you’re about to ovulate, your spit starts to look like the leaves of a fern plant (hence the name) due to hormone changes in your body. There isn’t a heck of a lot of research on salivary ferning at this point, but some of the research sounds promising, and some studies have found it to be as accurate or even better than LH strips at predicting your fertile window 9.

Maybe I should not list salivary ferning as a “worst option.’ Why not, go ahead and give the fertile focus microscope a try. It was the best reviewed salivary ferning product on amazon (but still has more 1 star reviews than 5 star reviews to give you an idea). They at least have many customer support options like live chat and a phone number if you have questions, and It is definitely more fun to look at your spit under a microscope than to pee on a stick. Just in case salivary ferning is not an accurate predictor of your ovulation, you know the drill at this point, be sure to use HAVE LOTS OF SEX™ as your back up pregnancy plan.

Side note (and important caveats):

If you don’t HAVE LOTS OF SEX and instead use a product like LH strips or wearables to time your intercourse and have intercourse only a few fertile days a month, your man still has a job to do. Make sure he cleans his pipes at minimum every ten days to maintain optimal sperm quality 10, but every day is even better if he has low sperm count. 11

Another important side note: If you are under 35 and have been following my exclusive HAVE LOTS OF SEXpregnancy plan (or any get pregnant plan for that matter!)  for 12 months and are still not pregnant, it's time to see a doctor for an infertility workup. If you are 35 or older, only wait 6 months after trying to conceive to see the doctor for an infertility workup.