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No LH Surge? What happens if you don’t have an LH surge?

No LH Surge? What happens if you don’t have an LH surge?

Ovulation predictor kits, also known as OPKs, are small test strips that help detect the rise of luteinizing hormone (LH). LH surge happens a short while before ovulation, indicating that you have 12 to 24 hours after or 24 to 36 hours before ovulation for fertilization of the egg to occur.

However, there are times when an OPK may fail to detect an LH rise, and you are sure you should be ovulating according to your estimate. This often leaves one wondering: is it possible to ovulate without an LH surge? What is the meaning of no LH surge? Here is all you should know if the ovulation predictor kit fails to detect an LH surge even when you’re sure you need to be ovulating.

Lh surge - positive ovulation test instream
LH surge: How to identify and use LH levels for pregnancy

Luteinizing Hormone & Ovulation

Luteinizing hormone (LH) is a reproductive hormone that predicts your ovulation time by regulating the menstrual cycle and triggering ovulation. LH surge begins during your most fertile days. Before ovulation or the release of an egg, LH surge increases drastically.

Digital fertility trackers and OPKs detect the sudden LH rise to help you know when your body will release an egg so that you can know when to avoid sex (for those tracking hormones to prevent pregnancy) and when to have sex (if you are trying to conceive).

Image courtesy of The Bright Girl Guide by Demi Spaccavento.

How ovulation test kits work to predict fertility

OPK’s or ovulation predictor kits detect LH surge to help women predict their ovulation. OPKs work the same way as home pregnancy tests and use your urine stream to get hormone levels. OPKs test your urine by checking the LH level and comparing it to the threshold LH level. If the LH is higher than the threshold, it indicates a positive result. It means that you are likely to ovulate soon (typically 24 to 36 hours after an LH surge). However, if the LH level is lower compared to the threshold, it is a sign that you are not ovulating. When LH is too low, which happens in rare cases, it becomes hard for the OPK to detect ovulation. It means you may see a low baseline in LH. In such a case, the kit will produce a false negative result.

No LH Surge? What You Need to Know

At times though rarely, your OPK may fail to detect an LH surge leading to a negative result. It is normal to be concerned or surprised if your OPK turns out negative while waiting for a positive result. Keep reading to understand what no LH surge means on your OPK.

What does it mean if you have no LH surge?

In most cases, a negative OPK means that you’re not ovulating. Suppose you were sure of a positive result. In that case, it means that you took the test incorrectly, too late, or too early, or you are going through an anovulatory cycle (menstruation cycle in which ovulation fails to occur) for different reasons. However, as stated earlier, you can get a false negative when you have a low baseline LH level. Some medical conditions, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), may interfere with your standard hormone levels, making OPKs more unreliable.

In-Stream Ovulation Test Kit
How to read In-Stream ovulation test kit results

Is It Possible to Ovulate Without An LH Surge?

The answer to this question is no for the majority of women. The luteinizing hormone surge is an indication that the body is ready to ovulate 24 to 36 hours before an egg is released. Failure to see the surge is an indication that you may have taken the test at the wrong time, or you may have ovulated late or early, or you may be going through an anovulatory cycle.

Your baseline LH level may be low or high in rare circumstances, providing unreliable OPK test results. One study showed the luteinizing hormone 24 hours before ovulation ranged from as low as 6.5mIU/ML all the way up to 101mIU/ml.

A false positive could be due to your baseline LH level being higher than the ovulation threshold. If the baseline LH level is too subtle for the ovulation predictor kit to detect, it may result in a false negative. In most cases, this occurs because of hormonal health conditions like PCOS. If this happens to you, it means that you may ovulate without experiencing an LH surge.

Can You Get Pregnant Without An LH Surge?

In most cases, no. If you don’t ovulate, you will not see an LH surge. Failure to ovulate during your menstrual cycle (experience an anovulatory cycle) signifies that your body will not release an egg which means fertilization will not occur. Conception cannot happen without an LH surge.

However, as stated previously, there are some circumstances where the OPK may not indicate an LH surge, but it has already happened in reality. Or, you may misuse an OPK, which may cause you to miss your LH surge though it already occurred.

Can My LH Levels Be Too Low To Detect?

It may happen but in rare cases. It may be hard for OPKs to detect an LH surge that is too low. Low LH can happen due to malnutrition because of obesity, an eating disorder, pituitary gland condition, or a different health condition. It can also occur because of a hormonal health condition that may cause infertility.

The OPK may indicate a false negative result if the LH surge fails to cross the threshold set by the kit (Fertility2Family tests detect at 25mIU). You may still experience a surge even when the LH level is lower than what traditional OPKs perceive to be a surge. It becomes easy to know when you are ovulating, even when you experience a low LH surge.

What About Estrogen Surge Without LH Surge?

Generally, LH isn’t the only hormone that rises before ovulation. Estrogen is also a hormone that increases during ovulation and reduces after ovulation. The rise in estrogen levels leads to an LH surge which in turn triggers ovulation.

There are times when you may notice no LH surge but a rise in estrogen when you track your hormonal curve. It means that your body is ready to ovulate but has not reached an LH surge.

However, it is unlikely for you to ovulate when your LH level is not rising, but your estrogen is rising. It is impossible to ovulate without reaching a specific LH level. Even though estrogen and LH work together to trigger ovulation, you cannot ovulate if you don’t experience an LH surge.

How To Increase Your Chances Of An LH Surge And Ovulation

You may be wondering what you could do to increase your chances of conceiving if you are experiencing issues with your LH surge and ovulation when trying to conceive (TTC). Below are essential things that you can do to increase your odds of experiencing ovulation and an LH surge.

Timing ovulation tests

When using fertility trackers or OPKs, you need to know when to do the ovulation test to get accurate results. Most women use OPKs incorrectly regardless of having good intentions. You will constantly receive negative OPK results if you keep doing this because you’re not doing the test during your fertile window.

You should use the first urine of the day when taking home pregnancy tests. It raises the chances of catching the LH surge. However, with OPK’s, you need to take the test twice per day (in the morning and the evening) for more accurate results.

Healthy Diets And Habits

Lifestyle factors such as exercise and your foods play an integral role in healthy and regular ovulation. Poor lifestyle choices and diet can harm your fertility. If you notice irregular surges in LH, it is time to change your diets and habits. Ask yourself these questions to know if lifestyle factors could be interfering with your fertility:

• Am I doing exercises regularly?

• Am I avoiding alcohol while trying to conceive (TTC)?

• Am I staying away from smoking cigarettes?

• Am I eating a balanced diet consisting of primarily whole foods?

Regular home testing and monitoring

Infrequent or incorrect testing of your ovulation can cause inaccurate results. We recommend you test every day for one month to help you know the exact time you are ovulating (if you are ovulating but missing your fertile window). You also need to ensure that you test during the right time of the day and correctly.

Ask yourself the following questions to know if you are testing correctly:

• Have you tried using the Fertility2Family fertility tracker or any other form of OPK/ ovulation test daily for the past month?

• Have you been testing at the recommended time of the day?

• Are you having sex around your ovulation?

• Are you tracking and experiencing other symptoms of ovulation?

When To Get Help

It is normal to panic when you experience an unexpected LH surge. However, take some time to confirm that you are testing correctly. Also, you need to time sex around your ovulation before making any conclusions about your fertility or ovulation.

To be sure that you’re testing correctly, ask yourself the questions provided in the previous section. After you are confident that you are doing everything correctly and continue to experience problems with your ovulation or no LH surge, make an appointment with your fertility specialist to rule out any issues.