Do you have babies on the brain? If so, it’s common to wonder if you’re even fertile enough. After all, there’s nothing more stressful than trying to conceive, only to be disappointed time after time. About 19% of women think they’re infertile, although the rate is only at about 6%. Or perhaps you’re waiting to have kids, something more and more women are choosing to do. Regardless of your situation, it’s crucial to consult a fertility doctor who can give you a personalized game plan.
You might also wonder about an at-home fertility test. There are several of its kind, with the most recent one by a startup venture called Modern Fertility. The company, which launched in August 2017, is based in Silicon Valley and claims to provide affordable at-home tests to help women understand their fertility. Each test costs $149 while competing companies sell tests for $300 a pop. Compared to traditional fertility testing, these tests are affordable. But is it worth the chunk of change? Before shelling out your cash, look at the bigger picture, because it might just be an extra expense.1
What Is An At-Home Fertility Test?
An at-home fertility test is designed to measure specific hormones that affect fertility. In many cases, you’ll receive a package from the company. You will need to prick your finger, collect a blood sample, and ship it off to a lab. After some time, you’ll get a report describing your hormone levels and egg count. Hormones tested often include:
- Anti-mullerian hormone
- Follicle-stimulating hormone
- Luteinizing hormone
- Thyroid stimulating hormone
- Free thyroxine
- Free testosterone
- Total testosterone
On paper, these tests sound like an empowering tool for women. But here’s the issue: Fertility testing is complex and complicated. It involves extensive clinical evaluation, from lab tests to imaging studies. Additionally, depending on your health history, different tests may be necessary.2
Potential Problems Of At-Home Fertility Tests
1. Poor Scientific Back-Up
With the right wording, a company can sound totally legitimate. But is there research to support their claims? Have scientific studies been completed and published? Without sufficient research, it’s tough to know if the test is truly accurate.
2. Fertility Is More Complex
Again, fertility testing is extremely complex. Even if you receive hormone measurements and a “fertility score”, you’ll still need guidance throughout the next few steps. This is especially true if you have underlying diseases that require a certain type of management. In turn, these at-home fertility tests will end up more like a supplement instead of an alternative.
3. Incompatible With Doctors
Let’s say you have completed an at-home test. If you bring the results to your doctor, there’s a good chance she can’t work with them. They’re essentially numbers from an outside source! So in order to get more accurate measurements, she’ll have to redo all the same tests. In other words, you’ll have to pay more money anyway.
The Final Verdict
At-home fertility tests might seem convenient, but there are many things to consider. They can’t replace the extensive tests and exams done in a doctor’s office. Moreover, after receiving the results, you won’t have customized guidance. The lack of interpretation and personalization can cause a lot of unnecessary worry and stress. In the end, it can all be one extra and unnecessary expense.
If you choose to do an at-home fertility test, know that it is merely a supplement to your doctor visits. Always look for scientific peer-reviewed research before placing an order. Most importantly, communicate with your doctor to ensure you’re interpreting results correctly.
|↑1||Polis, Chelsea Bernhardt, and Laurie Schwab Zabin. “Missed conceptions or misconceptions: perceived infertility among unmarried young adults in the United States.” Perspectives on sexual and reproductive health 44, no. 1 (2012): 30-38.|
|↑2||Fertility Testing. American Association for Clinical Chemistry.|