TTC & Fertility Product Reviews
An Introduction to Tests, Monitors, and Accessories to help you become pregnant!

In the last decade or so we've seen a flurry of new trying-to-conceive products - so many that it's difficult to wade through them all. That's why we have provided the overview below to help you determine which product is the right one for your unique needs and tastes.

Just a decade ago there were only a scant supply of products available to help couples conceive a baby, or get pregnant sooner. Back then, our only option, at best, was to buy an over-priced ovulation prediction kit that was more like an awkward chemistry set than the affordable and effortless one-step ovulation tests available now! In fact, today we almost have an excess of products and options, a nearly overwhelming selection of fertility monitors, fertility supplements, and baby-making accessories. Hopefully, this article will clear the smoke surrounding the many products available today and help you select the right fertility aids for you!

Predicting Ovulation: From Traditional OPKs to Hi-Tech Fertility Monitors
During a woman's menstrual cycle, her body undergoes numerous changes and marked fluctuations in various reproductive hormones. Ovulation prediction devices are designed to detect changes in these hormonal shifts and surges - particularly the increase of two key reproductive hormones that takes place directly prior to a woman's most fertile time of the month. These two hormones are estrogen and LH (or luteinizing hormone). Estrogen helps prepare the uterus for pregnancy; a surge in LH actually causes ovulation (the release of the egg) to take place. If you can detect these hormonal changes, then you can predict ovulation, time lovemaking, and vastly increase your chances of conceiving a baby!

LH Urine Ovulation Tests: Traditional urine ovulation tests are still the standard today. That's because identifying the LH surge is a sure way to not only predict fertility, but pinpoint the narrow time window when ovulation will very likely take place. Because the surge in LH actually facilitates ovulation, a positive test result will tell you that ovulation is imminent and will very likely take place in the next day or two. If you receive a positive result, its time to make love daily over the next 72 hours - and increase your chances of conception! Contemporary urine ovulation tests are over 99% accurate and effortless to use - and they are great deal more affordable than the testing kits of just a few years ago. Price: Clinical Lh strips are very affordable at about $1.00 each. Drugstore brands may cost $10.00 to $15.00 for just two kits.

Ovulation Microscopes: Ovulation microscopes are a convenient, accurate, and easy prediction device, and many women use scopes like Fertile Focus in concert with traditional LH urine tests. What's great about using these products together is that they "focus" in on two different reproductive hormones. Ovulation microscopes work by detecting a woman's estrogen surge, a more gradual increase in estrogens that takes place about five to six days prior to ovulation. With the ovulation microscope, you simply view a dry saliva sample through a 50X to 60X magnification lens. If you are nearing your fertile time of month, you'll begin to see crystalline "ferning" patterns in the saliva - it'll be like suddenly seeing frost on a windowpane! And as you approach ovulation, you'll see the crystal patterns become increasingly sharp and intense. Doctor-approved, the ovulation microscope is particularly handy for women you tend to want to avoid the messier urine ovulation tests. We recommend using both! Price: $25.00 to $50.00

Fertility Monitors: Fertility monitors are typically hi-tech, computerized devices that typically track both LH and estrogen. There are a number of monitors on the market today, and they are a fantastic investment, even though somewhat more expensive than urine tests or the ovulation scopes. Some monitors are designed to be used with urine samples, others with saliva, and yet others utilize biosensors that detect changes in skin perspiration. We've come along way in ten years! All of the kits discussed below are over 99% accurate and provide "digital" results. Let's review some of the major representative products and see how each works. Prices: Between $100 and $300.

The ClearBlue Fertility Monitor: The ClearBlue set the bar high when it appeared some years back - and it still leads today among all hi-tech devices. The ClearBlue requires that you use urine samples; simply dip a test stick in urine and in minutes the monitor will digitally display your fertility status: low, high, or peak. What's nice about the ClearBlue Monitor is that it targets both LH and estrogen, providing enhances accuracy in determining when you are about to ovulate. ClearBlue is also backed by a reputable, world-class manufacturer with toll-free telephone support. Data can be uploaded into your personal computer for fertility charting. Requires special ClearBlue test sticks.

The OvaCue: Like the ClearBlue, the OvaCue is able to track both the LH surge and increases in estrogen. It offers accuracy and ease-of-use. What makes the OvaCue unique is that you can use saliva instead of urine samples. Just place a dab of saliva on the biosensor and the OvaCue will tell you if you are nearing ovulation. The OvaCue comes as a self-contained unit, but a vaginal sensor is available as an accessory for increased accuracy, as well as a software program that uploads results into an ovulation calendar. Pretty amazing stuff! An additional advantage of the OvaCue is that is does not require additional test sticks or biosensors.

The OVWatch: If you want convenience and never a mess, then the OVWatch is your monitor. It even works while you sleep! Just strap on the OVWatch at night and when you wake the next day, read your fertility result as if checking the time. The OVWatch works by detecting changes in the chemical composition of your perspiration. As with ovulation scopes, an increase in the estrogens cause changes in both the composition of saliva and sweat. The OVWatch takes computer readings every 30 minutes while you sleep to detect a jump in the amount of chloride ions in your skin. Also tells you which cycle day you are on. Requires that you change the biosensor each cycle.

Charting Tools & Baby-Making Accessories: Using ovulation tests or fertility monitors are a great way to home in on your ovulation date - as part of a larger fertility charting campaign. Fertility charting is simply daily tracking of fertility signs and bodily temperature to help you determine when you are fertile each month. By charting fertility with an ovulation calendar or bbt chart, you can learn a great deal about your body's natural cycles and verify when ovulation takes place each month. And hat's why pretty much every Ob/Gyn in the world recommends fertility charting if you are trying to conceive. Let's look at a few tools designed to assist you with this charting and babymaking process!

Basal Body Thermometer (BBT): A basal thermometer is specially designed to help you detect subtle changes in your body's resting (or basal) temperature. By taking your basal temperature first thing each morning, you can detect a marked thermal shift that takes place when you ovulate: you're body will "heat up" due to an increase of the hormone progesterone. Once you see this "thermal shift" on your chart, you know you have ovulated! A digital basal thermometer is unique because it provides temperature readings to 1/100th of a degree. If you prefer a glass basal thermometer, a new, safe mercury-free version is now on the market.

Pre-Seed Sperm-Friendly Lubricant: Pre-Seed marked a revolution for trying-to-conceive women - a smash-hit of a product that is beloved by countless of TTC couples the world over. Pre-Seed is a "sperm-friendly" sexual lubricant that is used directly before procreative sex. Designed to take the stress out of on-demand intercourse, Pre-Seed is the only product of its kind, offering a PH-balanced moisturizing formula that won't inhibit the movement in sperm. In fact, Pre-Seed is designed to emulate fertile cervical mucus, and therefore may actually increase your odds of conceiving (as many customers claim).

FertilMARQ Sperm Test: The FertilMARQ male fertility kit allows you to test your sperm count. The FertilMARQ male fertility test kit is an easy-to-use screening test to measure sperm concentration. The test determines whether your sperm concentration is above or below 20 million sperm cells per milliliter. Affordable and easy to use, the FertilMARQ can let you know if you need to talk to your doctor regarding possible male fertility issues.

Fertility Enhancement Supplements: Unlike prescription fertility drugs, over-the-counter fertility supplements are safe, natural herbal-nutritional alternatives designed to support reproductive wellness and increase your odds of getting pregnant. There are a number of brands on the market today, but only a few that we would recommend. These include the doctor-approved FertilAid or FertilityBlend. Containing a powerful spectrum of vitamins and proven herbal formulas, FertilAid comes in two special formulas - a woman's blend (containing folic acid and vitex agnus castus) and a men's blend (containing essential antioxidants and l-carnitine). The ingredients in these supplements have been carefully selected based on clinical studies indicating increased fertility rates or, in the case of the men's formula, improved sperm motility and count.

FertilAid for Women and Men: Formulated by fertility expert Amos Grunebaum, MD, FertilAid is unique because it combines complete vitamin formulas with a special proprietary blend of proven herbal ingredients. The Women's formula essentially contains everything in a prenatal vitamin, but also includes the natural herb vitex agnus castus and other safe, fertility-enhancing nutrients. The FertilAid for Men formula is strong on antioxidants and boasts a potent dose of the natural amino acid, l-carnitine, which has been shown in numerous studies to improve both sperm count and motility. Great products at a great price.

FertilityBlend Supplements: Another safe choice is FertilityBlend, which contains many of the ingredients in FertilAid. Though the formulas are not as complete, FertilityBlend for Women has been proven effective in clinical trials at Stanford University in increasing a woman's odds of conceiving.

So that's a quick overview of what's new in fertility products and related accessories. We hope you have found it an instructive point of departure for selecting products that might be of use to you in your trying-to-conceive efforts!

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