Our last blog covered the basics of fertility and gave some insight into why it’s so natural for us to wonder if we are fertile before we’re even ready to start a family. This blog is the second of a four-part series where we explore everything you’ve always wondered about your fertility.
This series includes:
So we’ve established how normal it is to want a definitive answer regarding your fertility; now, you are wondering how to get that answer. Read on for your options.
Traditionally, fertility testing was performed only inside doctors’ offices. It was expensive, time-consuming, and ultimately up to your doctor to decide whether he wanted to run the tests for you at all. Many traditional doctor offices won’t even consider scheduling an appointment for fertility testing until you have tried to conceive for at least a year. That can be frustrating for proactive couples who are eager to find out if there will be any hiccups beforehand.
Suppose you find a doctor that agrees to see you. In that case, you must undergo invasive medical and sexual history evaluations, which help to determine if there are lifestyle changes that could improve fertility. Next, a host of intrusive tests may be run, which can include:
No reasonable person would put themselves through that painstaking process if they didn’t have to. Luckily, with new technological advances in fertility testing, there are new ways to circumvent the costly, time-consuming traditional testing methods. Today, we have the ability to test your fertility at home. That means you can get a definitive answer regarding your fertility in a matter of hours, rather than years.
The basic method of testing your fertility at home involves taking a good look at specific reproductive hormones. Certain hormones indicate signs of fertility. Even over-the-counter ovulation strips work by measuring the luteinizing hormone (LH) in your urine, a hormone that spikes with ovulation. Here are a few of those hormones and their roles in female fertility:
For men, fertility can be measured in multiple ways. A semen analysis can check the health and abundance of sperm. Otherwise, men’s hormones, such as testosterone, can also be tested. Blood or urine samples are commonly used in at-home fertility testing.
Women who are curious about their fertility have a range of testing options for at-home use. The first that we’ll talk about is by using at-home ovulation predictor kits (OPKs). It works similarly to pregnancy tests, requiring a woman to pee on a test strip. You can buy these over the counter at most drugstores.
With ovulation test kits, you’ll need to keep track of your menstrual cycle so that you’re only using up your strips during the week you’re most likely to ovulate. This method can take a few months to determine whether you are ovulating regularly and is not always definitive or accurate in determining your fertility.
Couples who are looking for a more immediate answer about whether they are fertile have another option. It’s called at-home fertility testing. This testing is widely available online, can be ordered by a doctor, and shipped directly to your home. Most at-home test kits include the items that you’ll need to collect a blood or urine sample. For men, there are also kits to collect semen at home for analysis which can indicate sperm count, volume, movement, and shape.
Once you’ve collected the sample with your at-home fertility test kit, you’ll ship it back to a lab for analysis. The results will be shared with you shortly thereafter. With so many options available on the market, it can be difficult to pick the right fertility test kit. My Virtual Physician has partnered with Orchid to provide professional-grade at-home fertility testing to our patients. Once you’ve completed your testing, our online OBGYNs will be available to review your results and make a game plan to enhance your fertility if you have any abnormalities.
Fertility testing has gotten an overhaul in recent years. Now, understanding your fertility and getting early fertility testing is a real possibility that is readily accessible for all. If you’re ready to order your at-home fertility test, reach out to us today and schedule your appointment.
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Once you’ve sent your test kit into the lab, you may be wondering what kind of results to expect. Our next article busts through any confusion by breaking down how to read your fertility test results.