Our last blog covered how fertility testing works and gave some solid options for at-home fertility testing. Now we move to grasp an understanding of your results. This blog is the third of a four-part series where we explore everything you’ve always wondered about your fertility.
This series includes:
You have already taken a step towards getting a definitive answer on your fertility status; now, if you could just figure out what these results mean!
Not all at-home fertility test kits are created equally. So, depending on the fertility test that you use, your results will look very different. Some labs will simply provide you with a list of values for different hormone levels. That will require you to do your own research to interpret your results. Others will give you detailed descriptions of each hormone, along with explanations of what it means if one is outside of the normal range.
Since My Virtual Physician has partnered with Orchid, we will focus on the results that you can expect from their test kits. You can expect personalized results and actionable recommendations. Both are physician-reviewed. For hormone testing, your results will explain each hormone’s function, how it is used by the body, and what it means if your levels are abnormal. Similarly, semen analysis tests provide a detailed explanation of your results.
At-home fertility testing can provide you with one of two outcomes. First, it can give you peace of mind that your fertility seems to be in tip-top shape, and you do not need to do anything differently when you’re ready to conceive. If that’s not the case and you have an abnormal result, it’s a great starting point to share your results with your doctor for further evaluation. Your doctor can use the lab results in order to make recommendations or, if necessary, prescribe medication or order additional diagnostic testing.
Your reproductive system runs on hormones. Hormones are chemicals produced by the body that give instructions to organs and other parts of the body. They are involved in all reproductive stages, from puberty to pregnancy to menopause. That’s why checking your hormone levels can be so revealing about your fertility.
At-home fertility testing is one option that people are turning to in order to get an early look at their fertility with minimal investment of time and money. Having a basic understanding of the reproductive hormones will help you grasp your at-home fertility test results. Most tests look for hormones that indicate ovulation. Let’s cover the basics of each hormone that you might find in your results.
Although found in both men and women, this hormone is most useful to glance into the fertility of a woman’s body. AMH is produced by ovarian follicles, the fluid-filled sacs that hold one egg (oocyte) each inside the ovaries. A higher level of AMH can mean a higher ovarian reserve. Ovarian reserve is the number of eggs in the ovaries, which diminishes with age since women are born with all of their eggs and ovarian follicles.
Here are some fast facts showing how AMH informs you about your fertility:
FSH stimulates a woman’s eggs to mature in preparation for ovulation and also helps produce estrogen, which is required for the chain-reaction of ovulation to occur. Once an egg begins maturing, levels should drop as estrogen triggers ovulation. If the levels never drop, then there may be a problem with egg development. Checking your FSH levels can give you insight into how your ovaries are performing in general, as well as indicating ovarian reserve levels.
FSH facts to consider:
Estradiol, a form of estrogen, is another hormone involved in egg maturation and is critical for the release of the egg for ovulation. This hormone is also responsible for preparing the uterine lining for implantation. Estradiol is useful to determine your ovarian reserve levels. Normal estradiol ranges from 15 to 350 pg/mL. Menopausal women have estradiol levels below 10 pg/mL.
LH is a hormone involved in regulating women’s menstrual cycle and helping with the release of eggs during ovulation. It can help determine whether a woman’s body is ovulating properly. A surge in LH happens during ovulation, so it’s commonly used for at-home ovulation test strips. Normal ranges for women vary depending on which phase of the menstrual cycle, spiking around ovulation. Here are the baselines for normal LH levels:
Also known as the milk hormone, prolactin testing can help determine the proper functioning of bodily systems. Prolactin is produced after ovulation, but having too much can negatively impact ovulation. That explains why women who are breastfeeding are less likely to ovulate; they are producing more prolactin. Normal levels of prolactin in non-pregnant women are in the range of 2 to 29 ng/mL.
Men can also have at-home hormonal fertility testing done. They often include checking levels of:
Fertility testing won’t help much if you aren’t sure how to interpret the results. Now, with a basic understanding of the hormones involved in your fertility, you can see how at-home fertility testing can be an effective way to verify optimal reproductive health quickly and easily.
So the results are in, and now you can take action if any hormone levels are out of whack. What’s the first step? Our next article sheds light on what to do if your fertility test results come back abnormal.
*These are the three tests included in Orchid’s women’s hormone test.