Timed intercourse using urine ovulation tests will increase the chances of conception, according to researchers at the University of Oxford.
A new review of research shows that couples using urine ovulation tests (dipstick devices which show when ovulation will occur by detecting changes in hormones released into the urine) to assess the optimum time for intercourse had between 20 and 28 per cent chance of conceiving. This was compared to an 18 per cent chance of conception in couples who do not use urine ovulation tests.
The findings are published in a new Cochrane review, showing that tracking ovulation and timing intercourse can significantly increase conception rates.
By analysing data from seven randomised controlled trials, which included 2,464 women or couples, the researchers aimed to examine the effect of predicting the timing of ovulation on the rate of conception and live birth, as well as which method was most effective.
Each month in a woman’s menstrual cycle, there is a small ‘fertile window’ in which successful conception can occur based on the limited lifespan of sperm and eggs. The best time to have intercourse in order to conceive is five days before ovulation or several hours after the egg has been released.
The review looked at the different practices to predict ovulation, including urine ovulation tests, fertility awareness-based methods (tracking the stages of the menstrual cycle on a calendar, as well as tracking changes in cervical fluid or body temperature changes, which are both linked to ovulation), and identifying when the egg is released using an ultrasound. All the women trying to conceive were under 40 years of age and had been trying to conceive for under twelve months.
The findings showed that couples who used urine tests to predict when ovulation would occur had between a 20 and 28 per cent chance of conceiving and having a live birth, compared to an 18 per cent chance when the urine sticks were not used. The effectiveness of the other methods used to determine ovulation, such as FABM and ultrasound, were inconclusive.
Tatjana Gibbons, a DPhil researcher at the University of Oxford and lead author, said: ‘Many couples find it difficult to achieve a pregnancy, which can lead to concerns about their fertility. The finding that a simple and easily available urine test can increase a couple’s chance of successful conception is quite exciting because it can empower couples with more control over their fertility journey and could potentially reduce the need for infertility investigations and treatments.’
The researchers cautioned that many of the original studies were funded by the manufacturers of the urine ovulation test.
However, Professor Christian Becker believes that the findings are significant. He said: ‘The high threshold of evidence required in a Cochrane review makes even this moderate quality evidence for the effectiveness of urine ovulation tests quite impressive, as well as surprising considering how long they have been available for.’