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If you’ve been trying to get pregnant and so far haven’t had any success, you might be concerned you have a fertility issue. Women’s fertility issues come in all shapes and sizes and many things might interfere with conceiving. But just because you’ve found it challenging to get pregnant doesn’t mean there is a serious problem.
Most experts say that you should try for at least six months to get pregnant before you speak to your doctor about fertility. If you are over 35, it can take up to a year to conceive even if you are perfectly healthy.
But for many, six months or a year is longer than they want to wait. If you are curious about your fertility but your doctor isn’t ready to look into whether there is a problem, an at-home fertility test can shed light on your ability to conceive.
Fertility testing for women typically includes an assessment of a variety of different issues. In most cases, doctors will first conduct a standard pelvic exam and take a Pap smear. This is to make sure a woman’s cervix is healthy and that she is free of any sexually transmitted diseases.
Next, she’ll undergo an assessment to make sure she is ovulating each month, which is necessary to become pregnant. Ovulation is the release of the egg that eventually merges with the sperm during conception. A urine test, which can be done at home, looks for luteinizing hormone, which spikes just before ovulation. A progesterone level test is usually conducted at the same time. Progesterone is a hormone that also spikes during ovulation.
Finally, her doctor might conduct a thyroid check or test other hormones to ensure that her body is functioning normally.
Additional at-home fertility testing includes checking the basal body temperature which rises just before ovulation. This is one of the most common types of women’s fertility testing done at home. Women trying to conceive chart their body temperature for several months, which enables them to recognize patterns and predict the timing of ovulation based on changes.
If everything is normal based on the first round of tests or sometimes in addition to these initial tests, doctors might also examine a woman’s reproductive organs. All of the parts of the reproductive system should be working properly to get pregnant. Some of the tests that look for abnormalities in the reproductive system include:
- Hysterosalpingogram (HSG): X-rays of the uterus and fallopian tubes
- Transvaginal ultrasound: Provides a view of the ovaries and uterus using sound waves
- Hysteroscopy: Camera view of the uterus that also allows tissue samples to be taken
- Laparoscopy: Surgical procedure used to treat endometriosis and other problems
Additional tests your doctor might order if you are having trouble conceiving include:
- FSH blood test
- Clomiphene citrate challenge test
- Anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) test
- Post-coital testing
Why At-Home Tests are Helpful for Women’s Fertility Issues
Health insurance plans are rarely proactive when it comes to fertility issues.
Most insurance companies only cover fertility testing after months of trying to conceive without success. So unless you want to pay for a professional test out-of-pocket, you might be stuck waiting six months or longer for tests that sometimes cost $1000 or more.
At-home tests are available for much less money and give you complete control over when to begin testing. It’s still important to discuss your options with your doctor, but if you want to move the investigative process along a bit faster, these tests are an option.
There are at-home tests available for:
- Anti-Müllerian hormone
- Follicle-stimulating hormone
- Luteinizing hormone
- Thyroid-stimulating hormone
- Free thyroxine
Pros and Cons of At-Home Women’s Fertility Testing
At-home tests for fertility can be valuable, but they don’t tell you everything. They can’t even give you a clear answer on whether you are fertile or infertile. They’ll provide you with a base of information that acts as a starting point for further investigation.
At-home fertility tests are also all hormone-based, which doesn’t give you a complete picture of the health of your reproductive system. They are a good supplement to an annual examination, but if your fertility issues aren’t hormone-driven, these tests don’t clear up anything for you. An at-home test provides information about:
- General hormone levels
- Amount of eggs
- Whether you are menopausal
- Whether you should consider IVF or egg freezing
- If you’re at risk of PCOS
These are all important factors in your fertility, but they are only part of the big picture. It’s always best to work with your doctor and discuss your options.
Some of the most popular at-home women’s fertility tests include:
- Modern Fertility
- Let’s Get Checked
For women who are planning a pregnancy, the Female Fertility Test is an easy way to learn if you have a normal ovarian function. The test measures your levels of certain hormones that can affect reproductive health and ultimately determine how well you will be able to conceive.
The Ultimate Guide to At-Home Hormone Testing: What you need to know.
Capritto, Amanda. “Can At-Home Fertility Tests Help You Get Pregnant? What You Should Know.” CNET, www.cnet.com/health/your-guide-to-at-home-fertility-tests-for-women/. Accessed 20 Dec. 2020.