Ovulation kits are urine testing kits that measure levels of luteinizing hormone (LH) in the body, which are available at most pharmacies. LH is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland to signal the ovary to start to ovulate. A slip of coated paper can be dipped in the first specimen of urine passed each morning; a colour change can indicate a marked increase in the level of LH.
LH is produced in large amounts just before ovulation. As the follicle matures in the ovary and the time for ovulation draws closer, the follicle containing a viable egg produces increased amounts of the female hormone oestrogen. The oestrogen enters the bloodstream, which carries it to the brain where it ‘tells’ the pituitary gland that an ovary contains a mature follicle and is ready to release an egg. This triggers the release of LH, which initiates ovulation.
LH kits are a good idea in theory, but they are expensive and there are a number of associated problems. First, they only detect the sudden surge of LH, which should occur about 36 hours before ovulation, but some women have an abnormal LH surge while ovulating. Other women, particularly those in the older age group and women with polycystic ovaries, may produce high levels of LH that are not related to ovulation at the wrong time during the menstrual cycle, which causes false positives.
In other women, the test just doesn’t seem to work properly. So using these kits can add to the strain of fertility problems because they encourage people to time intercourse. This domination of one’s sex life can make infertility an ever more demanding and emotional experience. It can be more effective to have a lot of sex and try to keep it enjoyable.
Despite countless breakthroughs in medical science, we still do not understand why some pregnancies will end in tragedy. For most of us, having a child of our own is the most fulfilling experience of our lives. All of us can imagine the desperation and sadness of parents who lose a baby, and the life-shattering impact that a disabled or seriously ill child has on a family.
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