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More than struggle to become pregnant or stay pregnant, according to the Department for Health and Human Services. For many, simply having access to understandable information and being proactive about fertility could result in an easier time conceiving a child.
That’s where at-home fertility testing comes in. Several companies allow women to test their fertility and gain insights into how they can conceive. Here’s everything you should know about at-home fertility testing.
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Why you should try an at-home fertility test
At-home fertility tests, such as those from , and , provide women with a convenient, proactive and relatively inexpensive alternative to traditional clinic tests. These hormone-based fertility tests are designed to give women a picture of their general reproductive health, and to encourage proactive decisions rather than reactive ones.
Dr. Robert Penney, an OB-GYN in Holmdel, New Jersey, looks at these tests as a way for women to drive discussions about reproductive health.
“Much like the birth control pill gave women control of their reproductive choices, proactive fertility hormone testing gives them some control over their reproductive success,” Penney told me.
Federal insurance plans don’t cover proactive testing, and most state insurance plans only cover fertility tests if you can prove that you weren’t able to conceive after trying for an entire year. If you’re 35 or older, your insurance may cover fertility tests if you can prove you’ve been trying for six months or more.
Without insurance, the cost of a test from a lab or clinic can be prohibitively high. When Modern Fertility co-founder Afton Vechery underwent traditional clinical fertility testing herself, she ended up with a $1,500 bill.
You can always take a trip to a fertility clinic or your regular OB-GYN to get tested for these hormones if you feel more comfortable taking your test with a board-certified doctor present. Keep in mind, though, that the cost of a basic fertility test can soar upwards of $800 at a clinic.
If a patient takes an at-home test and receives concerning results, Penney notes that doctors should provide supportive — but deliberate — counseling to encourage them to see a reproductive endocrinologist. Doing so allows the patient to explore reproductive possibilities.
How fertility tests work
Generally speaking, fertility tests measure levels of different hormones in your body that are thought to be good indicators of reproductive health. Female fertility hormones include:
- Anti-Müllerian hormone: a good predictor of your ovarian reserve, or how many eggs you have in your ovaries
- Follicle-stimulating hormone: responsible for beginning the ovulation process
- Estradiol: a sex hormone that impacts follicle stimulation
- Luteinizing hormone: helps regulate your menstrual cycle
- Thyroid-stimulating hormone: impacts your thyroid and general health
- Free thyroxine: provides a good overall picture of thyroid function as it relates to reproductive health
- Prolactin: stimulates milk production and pauses ovulation after childbirth
- Testosterone: a sex hormone both men and women produce
These hormones are tested via a sample of your blood. To take an at-home fertility test, you’ll need to self-administer a finger prick. Your test will come with the equipment you need to do so and detailed instructions to follow.
Always wash your hands thoroughly before attempting a blood draw. Then, clean your selected finger with an alcohol swab and dry it with a clean tissue or towel. Your test should arrive with a small tool called a lancet that makes the prick easy: Just place it on your finger and press down. After you prick your finger, a small droplet of blood will appear. Use your other hand to gently squeeze your pricked finger and collect the blood in the small vial that comes with your testing kit.
All fertility tests, regardless of brand and location performed, take a few days to analyze. Your results include a report with personal explanations about all of the hormones you tested for, and their potential impacts on your fertility status.