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Pregnancy After 35: Better ways to track ovulation

Catherine McDiarmid-Watt | Sunday, March 09, 2008 | 0 comments

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hormone surges during your menstrual cycleIf you're in your late 30s or 40s and trying to conceive, ovulation-predictor kits might be steering you wrong -- or driving you crazy.

In a US study of 848 women, researchers found that the hormonal surge that usually signals "It's time!" may not really announce ovulation if you're perimenopausal and your period is irregular. (Perimenopause can start in your late 30's or early 40's.)

"Levels of luteinizing hormone, the hormone measured by most ovulation kits that use a urine sample, may be high and produce a falsely positive color change on test strips," says lead researcher Nanette Santoro, MD, an OB/GYN at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. "A woman thinks she's ovulating, but in fact, two other key hormones -- estrogen and progesterone -- may be so low that ovulation isn't really possible."

Santoro's team is developing a mathematical formula that pinpoints ovulation based on the ratio of estrogen to progesterone. A home version of their ovulation detector is years away, but these steps can help you pinpoint a ready egg:

Are you ovulating at all? If you have irregular periods or have tried to conceive for 6 months, your doc can order lab tests to assess ovulation.

Buy two ovulation test kits. Women over 35 may have late-in-the-month hormone surges. "If you start checking on day 10, and you don't ovulate until day 20, you'll run out of strips if you have just one five-strip pack," says Santoro.

Switch to a saliva test. These kits ($25 to $60) detect the pre-ovulation estrogen surge.


Ovulation Predictor Kit Frequently Asked Questions:

How to use ovulation kits:

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About Catherine: I am mom to three grown sons, two grandchildren and two rescue dogs. After years of raising my boys as a single mom, I remarried a wonderful man who had never had a child of his own. Unexpectedly, I found myself pregnant at 49!
Sadly we lost that precious baby at 8 weeks, and decided to try again. Five more losses, turned down for donor egg, foster care and adoption due to my age and losses - we have accepted that there will be no more babies in our house.

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