The Oova Discovery Pack helped me demystify my cycle symptoms and navigate a new PCOS diagnosis.
To be transparent, I may not necessarily seem like the target audience for Oova’s products: I’m in my early twenties, and I’m not currently trying to conceive. However, when I was offered a chance to try Oova’s Discovery Pack beta program, I jumped at the opportunity to better understand my cycle.
Even though I’m not looking to get pregnant, I still wanted insights into my hormones. That’s because I know that with a deeper knowledge of my own cycle, I can anticipate mood changes, skin problems and identify my ovulatory window (which I’m personally trying to avoid, not target!).
Also, I have a hormonal IUD, and I don’t currently get a period, so I wanted to figure out whether or not I was ovulating. Some people with IUDs do ovulate, and some don’t.
What’s in the Oova Discovery Pack?
As opposed to the full Oova Test Kit, the Discovery pack allows people like me to start understanding our hormone levels by collecting five data points. This data can provide insight into your cycle to help you build a deeper knowledge of where your hormone levels are and how to anticipate changing levels.
The kit comes with five test strips, each individually packaged in a cute packet. The strips themselves look similar to pregnancy tests but with a QR on them; this is used when you scan your tests into the Oova app.
Using the test strips
Measuring your hormones starts with peeing on that test strip. The instructions tell you to make sure the window of the test is facing away from you as you pee, which I failed to follow on my first collection but soon figured out.
After peeing on the test strip, you wait ten minutes for lines to appear on your strip. After that, use your phone camera to scan the QR code. Once you scan, the app delivers a real-time measure of how much luteinizing hormone and progesterone are in your system.
In my first set of data, the test strip picked up 5.47% luteinizing hormone (LH) and 20.13% progesterone in my urine. I was shocked to see how much these numbers fluctuated over the course of my collection period—at one point, my progesterone went up to 100%!
Of course, I had some vague idea of what all that meant — if I have a bunch of hormones, that must mean I’m ovulating, right? — but I wanted to understand it in context and to know whether fluctuations this intense were normal.
That’s why I was so excited to get to meet with a fertility expert who could help me decode my hormones and use that knowledge to make changes in my life.
Meeting with a fertility expert
I got to meet with Amy Divaraniya, the CEO and founder of Oova, to discuss my results. One of the first things she said on our call was, “You actually captured your LH surge!”
“I did?” I asked, totally unsure about what that meant.
As Amy helped me understand it, a surge in LH triggers the release of an egg from the ovaries. That means that I actually am ovulating, despite my IUD — which was one of my big questions coming into this process.
The next thing Amy did with me was she helped me create a report within the app. This report analyzed my cycle and showed how my cycle compares to other people’s.
I could see in my report that my recorded LH levels were considerably higher than the average person’s LH levels. Amy told me that this has to do with my PCOS diagnosis: this hormonal imbalance often causes high levels of LH.
She also reassured me that there was nothing to worry about in these numbers. Many people with PCOS have such consistently high LH levels that there is no room for an LH surge, which can prevent them from being able to ovulate; however, the presence of an LH surge in my data means that I am still ovulating.
Since my PCOS diagnosis was very recent, it was really comforting to talk with Amy about what it means, and how much I need to worry about it at this stage of my life (which isn’t much, since I’m not currently trying to have a baby!). She also let me know that while getting this diagnosis now may be scary, it is actually really valuable data to have if I ever choose to start trying for a child, because it will help me narrow down which fertility treatment options make the most sense.
What I learned about my hormones
As it turns out, my monthly menstrual cycle has continued despite my IUD and lack of a period. The fact that I’m still ovulating, in addition to my PCOS, means that my hormones are all over the place. This realization was eye-opening: the symptoms I had attributed to other causes are actually linked to the fluctuating hormones in my body.
With the Oova Discovery Pack, I was able to figure out when my ovulation was taking place, which in turn means that I can figure out how to take better care of myself during each phase of my cycle.
I also had the chance to ask all the questions I was scared to ask and receive counsel from a fertility expert.
Armed with this knowledge, I feel better prepared to tackle my cycle symptoms and less uneasy about my new PCOS diagnosis.
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