What is an LH Surge and How Can it Help with Trying to Conceive?
Many potential parents have done extensive research in order to find the best methods to increase their odds of conception. Tracking ovulation is one great tool to use in order to improve your chances of getting pregnant. Knowing when your Luteinizing Hormone (LH) surge usually occurs can help you track when you’re ovulating, however, many people are unsure what an LH surge is.
Cryos wants to make sure that your path to parenthood is as simple as possible. We’ve created a guide below to help you understand what an LH surge is and help you identify when it’s coming.
What is a Luteinizing Hormone or LH Surge?
LH plays a critical part in the menstrual cycle. During your menstrual cycle, the pituitary gland secretes LH at relatively low levels. However, once an egg reaches a certain stage of development the body rapidly increases the levels of LH produced. This increase, often called an LH surge, is what triggers ovulation, which happens roughly 24 to 36 hours later.
Once an egg is released, a structure known as the corpus luteum is formed from the follicle. The corpus luteum secretes a chemical called progesterone which is needed to support a potential pregnancy. If pregnancy does not occur, the corpus luteum will shrivel up if a pregnancy does not occur, stopping the progesterone production. Once the progesterone secretion stops a menstrual period is triggered. Keep in mind that an LH surge does not always guarantee that a successful ovulation will occur.
Why is tracking your LH Surge important?
The time that you have to conceive is often shorter than you may think. The fertile window for a woman, which is the window of time a woman can get pregnant is typically 6 days. With frozen sperm, which can survive up to 72 hours the fertile window will decrease a bit. However, frozen sperm can be thawed and inseminated whenever the woman is in her fertile window. This article posted by the University of California San Francisco, says fresh sperm cells can survive up to 5 days inside a woman’s reproductive organs. According to womenshealth.gov, a woman’s egg can only live up to 24 hours after ovulation. The fertile window is a combination of the length of time the sperm cells survive and the amount of time a woman’s egg can survive after ovulation. Ovulation typically occurs 24 to 36 hours after an LH surge. Therefore, tracking your LH surge can help you plan your insemination when your fertility is at its peak. This is why it is so important to track your ovulation for several months before you begin trying to conceive (TTC).
How do you track when your LH Surge will occur?
An ovulation predictor kit (OPK) is a tool that women can use to help determine when they will have an LH surge. You can buy OPKs without a prescription, and they are available for purchase online or in most pharmacies or big box stores. OPKs measure the LH levels in urine, by analyzing the urine left from peeing on the stick. The OPK test will yield either a positive or negative result. A positive result indicates that you have a high amount of LH in your system. Once ovulation has ended the LH level in your system drops, so the OPK will only yield a positive result during your most fertile time. It is recommended that you read the instructions on an OPK carefully, as most have different steps you need to take in order for them to work properly.
Women with certain medical conditions or those approaching menopause may have elevated levels of LH in their system. In this case, a better option than an OPK test is a blood test which is a more reliable testing option for women who are in this demographic. A great article by MedicalNewsToday lists a few examples of situations where an OPK test is ineffective. A blood test can be requested from your doctor in order to detect LH levels. However, it may take several tests before you and your doctor are able to pinpoint the time of your ovulation.
What should you take away from all this?
An LH Surge is the 24 to 36 hour time frame before ovulation begins. It is during this time that women are the most fertile and have the highest chance of becoming pregnant. Using tools such as an ovulation predictor kit or blood tests can help you determine when your LH surge is occurring.
Do you have any questions? Cryos would be more than happy to assist you! Contact us to speak with one of our knowledgeable bilingual Client Service Representatives, call us at (407) 203-1175 or email us at [email protected]. We also have a live online chat that you can access through our website here.