Infertility can take a devastating toll on a couple’s relationship. Not only is it emotionally challenging to face the reality that you may not be able to have children of your own, but on top of that—there are additional obstacles to overcome. That’s because diagnostics and treatments for infertility are not easily accessible or affordable. In fact, medical intervention for infertility is quite unaffordable. With the average cost of in vitro fertilization at over $12,000 per cycle, something has to give. That’s where the Hope for Fertility Foundation comes in.
Hope for Fertility Foundation is a nonprofit started in 2016 by a couple who faced infertility head-on and underwent multiple rounds of IVF therapy. Today, the nonprofit is run by volunteers and helps raise funds to provide grants to couples facing the same reality in hopes of easing the financial burden that fertility treatments leave.
The mission of the organization is “to provide HOPE to couples struggling in their journey to create or expand their families by helping them tell their story, by spreading infertility awareness, and providing financial assistance through grants and fundraisers.”
Grants are available on a recurring basis, depending on how much funds are available. For 2022, there have already been two rounds of grant application periods. The first group of recipients was announced in May, and the next group will be announced in November. Recipients receive between $250 to $5,000 to help reduce the cost of adoption or infertility treatments.
The Hope for Fertility grant covers costs associated with both adoption and infertility treatments. It does not cover medications at this time. Take a look at past grant recipients and read their stories to find out how this organization has helped couples regain hope after an infertility diagnosis.
If you’re in the same boat, struggling with infertility and the ability to pay for treatment or adoption, there is hope for you also. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to apply for Hope for Fertility’s national grant.
There are three major criteria that must be met before you apply for the grant. First, you must be a citizen or permanent resident of the US. Second, you must have a physician’s diagnosis of infertility. And third, you must be legally married.
Applications are typically accepted during a 90-day period. The dates are available on the foundation’s website. For 2022, there were two 90-day periods where applications were accepted and typically there is at least one round per year.
There is a $50 non-refundable processing fee to submit along with your application. Once you’ve sent in your application, check your mail and email regularly to find out if you’re a lucky recipient.
Since one of the qualifications required to apply for the Hope for Fertility Grant is an official diagnosis of infertility, let’s cover how to get a diagnosis.
If you’ve already been trying to get pregnant for a while, then read the related content below about when to see your doctor for infertility for further testing and diagnosis.
On the other hand, if you’re not sure you need to see a doctor about infertility, but you’d like to find out if you can get your fertility tested, there’s an option for that. Check out our fertility series of articles below for more information on at-home fertility testing for men and women.
If you’re ready to talk with a board-certified OBGYN about testing your fertility or getting an official diagnosis, reach out to our team to schedule your appointment. My Virtual physician has partnered with Orchid to make at-home fertility testing accessible and affordable for our patients. Orchid is a proud sponsor of Hope for Fertility, donating 1% of all sales to the nonprofit, and shares a founder story that is very relatable to the grant provider.
Many things in life take preparation. Sometimes couples have happy accidents, but other times, trying for a baby takes a little work upfront. If you’re in the second boat, you may be in the preconception planning phase.
So if you’re here to make sure you’re in good shape for pregnancy—then you’re in the right place. This post will cover a checklist of items you can tackle to ensure your best chances for conception.
Pregnancy is hard on a woman’s body. There are steps that a woman can take to make it a little easier to prepare for this life-changing event. Preconception health happens before a couple tries for a baby; it looks at the overall health of a woman before conception to optimize her chances of getting pregnant. Preconception planning includes observing and adjusting diet, lifestyle, stress level, and other factors to set a couple up for success.
While these are great tips for any woman at any time, adopting these changes three months before trying for a baby can help improve preconception health.
Use this preconception checklist to help boost your chances of pregnancy.
Your baby will depend 100% on your body for nutrition. That means that if you’re malnourished, then your baby will not be able to get the best nutrients through the umbilical cord. Here’s a list of FDA-recommended foods for future moms:
Make small changes to your diet to try to incorporate more variety into your diet. Avoid foods such as rice, which can contain naturally-occurring arsenic and certain types of fish that are high in mercury.
If you’re taking any natural supplements, prescriptions, or over-the-counter medications, be sure to reassess whether they are compatible with pregnancy. Consult your doctor before conception to make sure that you’re not taking any medications that could harm your baby or your fertility.
There are supplements that can help with fertility and embryo development. Folic acid, naturally occurring as folate, is the most well-known one. This vitamin is known to help prevent birth defects in the developing baby’s spine and brain. The CDC-recommended dosage is currently 400 mcg daily and has even mandated fortification of cereal grains to reduce deficiencies in this B vitamin.
Optimize your fertility by reducing your consumption of harmful chemicals such as alcohol, beverages, and sugar. Quitting bad habits before you try for a baby is one way to take action and let your body know you’re ready to nurture a baby in the womb. Drugs are detrimental to you and your baby’s health. Make a commitment to break the habit before you try to conceive.
Exercise releases endorphins and reduces stress. Now is a great time to develop a routine for regular exercise if you have not already been active. Simply adding more walking to your daily routine can be enough to get your heart pumping. Take this time for you now to establish healthy habits; because once the baby is born, getting out will have additional challenges.
In addition to these changes you make while you are getting ready for pregnancy, you can also begin observing your body’s natural cycles. This is the perfect time to identify your fertility window. First, you’ll need to stop taking any hormonal birth control that you’ve been on. Next, you’ll observe the day that your period starts naturally. About 14 days after your period starts is when you are most fertile.
You can read more about tracking your cycle and identifying your fertility window in the article below that discusses the FAB method. While the related content is talking about preventing pregnancy, you can apply the same technique to identify your most fertile days for when you begin trying to conceive. Start tracking now so that you don’t have to guess later down the road.
Checking your fertility is easy today with at-home testing kits from organizations like Orchid, My Virtual Physician’s partner in at-home fertility testing. Not only can you have test kits sent directly to your home with a return label to send to a lab for full analysis, but the cost is affordable. You can get your results before stepping into a doctor’s office. At-home fertility tests are a quick way to rule out any fertility hiccups that may need to be addressed before conception.
Related: How Can I Test My Fertility at Home?
At-home fertility tests aren’t just for women! Orchid offers two types of fertility tests for men who want to make sure their sperm and reproductive potential are in good shape:
Read more about how to get an affordable at-home male fertility test done in these articles:
As complex and unique beings, sometimes other factors can affect your fertility. If you have a complicated health history that might interfere with your ability to conceive, bring it up in your pre-pregnancy checkup with your doctor.
Here’s a handful of health-related concerns to discuss with your physician:
Come to your pre-pregnancy checkup prepared to discuss your full medical history along with any ongoing conditions that may be impacted by your pregnancy (or vice versa). And if you’ve already taken an at-home fertility test, bring the results! Your doctor can help guide you to take the right corrective actions to make your dream of having a baby come true.
All that planning pays off. Making small adjustments now can increase your chances of success down the road. When you’re ready, reach out to the OBGYNs at My Virtual Physician to schedule your preconception planning visit, get your prenatals, and order your at-home fertility tests.
When it comes to sexually active men and pregnancy prevention, there are not a whole lot of options on the table. Other than condoms and the withdrawal method, a vasectomy is a man’s only other choice for birth control. This method is nearly 100% effective, much more effective than condoms or most female contraceptive options.
The only thing is, it’s permanent. So you’ve got to make sure you feel strongly about your decision before proceeding. If you’ve decided that you’re done fathering children for good, then a vasectomy as a permanent form of pregnancy prevention might be coming up in the near future.
A vasectomy is a minor surgical procedure with a speedy recovery time where a doctor cuts, removes small segments, and seals off the vas deferens so that sperm no longer make their way into a man’s ejaculate. So, if you’ve decided to make the call—below, we’ll cover what to expect when you schedule your vasectomy.
The first step to getting a vasectomy is what you’re doing right now: researching the process. You may not have committed to the procedure yet, but you’re learning about the process. You should consider all aspects to make the most informed decision about whether or not to get a vasectomy. Here are a handful of things to look into:
Once you’ve decided that a vasectomy is the best option for you, then the next thing to do is proceed with scheduling an appointment to consult with a Urologist.
Most men don’t have an established Urologist. In that case, call your regular primary care physician to request a referral to a specialist who performs the vasectomy procedure. It’s likely that you’ll need to schedule a pre-vasectomy consultation appointment before coming in for the actual procedure.
During your consultation, your doctor will discuss with you things like:
Pre-procedural instructions include things like avoiding certain medications that may thin the blood and increase bleeding before the procedure, such as aspirin. You may also be asked to shave your scrotum a few days before arriving for the procedure.
At the end of your consultation, you’ll be able to schedule your appointment to have the procedure done.
Most often, vasectomies are done in a standard doctor's office, and you’re able to go home right afterward. Before your appointment, read your pre-procedure instructions again to ensure you’ve followed all of your doctor’s instructions. Plan ahead and have a friend or family member drive you to your appointment so that you have a safe ride home.
On the day of the appointment, dress comfortably in loose-fitting clothes with brief-style underwear to hold the gauze in place. Gauze is used as an extra layer of protection over your incisions and to soak up any drops of blood or fluids.
You can expect the entire procedure to take around 30 minutes. Your doctor will begin by having you undress and applying a local anesthetic to the scrotum, where he will make one or two incisions to access the vas deferens. The most painful part is over after the injection of the anesthetic. From there, patients will have some temporary discomfort, including tugging and mild nausea, while the doctor performs the procedure of cutting and sealing off each vas deferens.
After about half an hour, you’re free to go home and recover.
You’ll want to clear your calendar for the day plus one or two days after your procedure and spend this time resting on the couch or in bed. You’ll experience some mild aching, swelling, and bruising during this time, which should get better over the next week. Over-the-counter pain medications are usually recommended during this time to ease your discomfort and reduce swelling.
After about a week of taking it easy, you can begin to return to your normal activities, including physically demanding work or exercise. Followup appointments directly after the procedure are uncommon unless there are complications. Be sure to report any concerns to your doctor. Congratulations, if you’re this far, the hardest part is over.
Now, over the next three months, you’ll want to use backup methods of birth control, such as condoms, because your vasectomy is not immediately effective. It can take several months for all of your body’s sperm to leave your seminal fluid for good. But don’t worry, this is only a temporary precaution, and you can stop using the backup as soon as you complete the last step of the process: getting confirmation of a successful vasectomy.
The last step after getting a vasectomy is the most important one. This step verifies that the procedure was successful. To confirm a successful vasectomy, you’ll need to have a lab test done that shows a sperm count of zero.
Wait about 12 weeks after the procedure to get your post vasectomy semen analysis done. My Virtual Physician has partnered with Orchid Crew. They offer an at-home post-vasectomy confirmation kit for just over $100. That’s right—you can collect your semen from the privacy of your own home and have it sent to a CLIA-accredited lab to confirm azoospermia (no sperm in semen).
Using the five steps outlined above, you can see the whole vasectomy process from start to finish. Once you’ve completed your post-vasectomy confirmation, you’re officially good to go! If you recently had a vasectomy and wish to speak with a doctor online about your recovery or testing options, schedule an appointment with My Virtual Physician today.
Couples are waiting longer to start their families; most new mothers today are around 27 years old when they have their first child. Our bodies, both male and female, are most fertile the closer we are to puberty, and fertility tapers off as we age. That’s why many couples that are preparing to have a baby decide to get their fertility checked beforehand. This gives each partner peace of mind to know that everything is in working order when you begin trying.
Fertility testing sounds expensive. And it used to be, but not anymore. Technological advancements have allowed the development of lab testing so that it can be done from the privacy and comfort of your own home. Let’s talk about the different male fertility testing options that you can get done at home.
If you have no indications of fertility problems and you’re just curious about whether your semen contains a normal amount of sperm, then you might consider purchasing an at-home sperm test from your local drugstore.
This type of sperm screening test works by detecting a minimum amount of a particular protein that is only found in the head of mature sperm. So the result comes in as pass or fail.
These screening tests don’t give any detailed lab numbers; instead, the results look very similar to a pregnancy test for women, shown as lines on the indicator window. For example:
Over-the-counter sperm screening test kits are an affordable way to rule out low sperm counts, costing less than $50 per test. If you have an abnormal result, then you should consider moving on to the next step up in at-home male fertility testing: a lab-reviewed semen analysis.
If you have reason to believe that your fertility is not up to par, whether for biological reasons or trauma-related injuries, then you may consider having an at-home semen analysis done. For just under $200, with this type of test, you’ll receive a test kit to collect your semen sample at home and then send it into a lab for professional analysis. Here’s Orchid’s version, our partner in fertility testing.
The lab will look at your sample under a microscope, make observations about your sperm quality, and then send results, in the form of real numbers, back to you. The typical parameters that the lab looks at during a semen analysis include sperm count, shape, movement, and other measurements of the seminal fluid.
Read more about the at-home semen analysis test in this blog: Testing Male Fertility: How to Get a Semen Analysis Done At Home, which goes into more depth on this male fertility test, including normal ranges for each measurement.
If you receive an abnormal result from your at-home semen analysis, read this post: What Do I Do If My Fertility Test Comes Back Abnormal?. The first step is usually to re-test. If you’ve received an abnormal semen analysis, consult with our doctors for personalized medical advice to get your fertility back on track.
Semen analyses are not the only fertility testing available for men. You can also get male hormones and blood glucose levels tested to identify whether those are impacting your fertility.
Orchid offers a male hormone test kit that tests your blood with a fingerprick for testosterone, prostate health, and hemoglobin A1C. Like the semen analysis, this test is also collected at home and then sent into a lab to be read by lab technicians who provide numerical results. This affordable option is less than $60 and can show a bird’s-eye view of male hormonal health.
For less than $300, guys can run all three tests above from the comfort of their own homes in order to get a good picture of their fertility. If everything checks out, that’s just reassurance that you’re body is ready when you are.
If not, these tests give you and your doctor insight to work together toward correcting your fertility. If you’ve had an abnormal result and want to consult with our doctors about your fertility, schedule your appointment today.
Our last blog detailed how to read your at-home fertility results. If you’ve recently taken an at-home fertility test and the results weren’t what you expected, or something was out of whack, you may be wondering what to do with that information. This blog is the last in our four-part series that explores everything you’ve always wondered about testing your fertility at home.
This series includes:
First things first. Stop. Now, breathe…
A less-than-normal result doesn’t mean you’ll never have kids. Abnormal results are not uncommon with fertility testing, and if you have one, there are things you can do to get your levels back within the normal range.
If your fertility results aren’t perfectly within normal range, don’t panic! Realize that at-home fertility testing is just one tool that can help you identify hiccups early on. Although we believe in the accuracy of Orchid test kits, it’s still important to recognize that it’s normal for hormones in our bodies to fluctuate. Hormones in a woman’s body can be particularly unpredictable throughout the phases of the menstrual cycle. And men’s semen samples can vary greatly with each ejaculation, dependent upon many circumstances.
My Virtual Physician has partnered with Orchid to provide synchronistic support to patients who test their fertility at home with Orchid tests. Our online OBGYNs can help interpret your results and guide you through steps to take to improve your fertility. If you have an abnormal result, we recommend a virtual visit with our physicians. We may encourage re-testing during a different point in a woman’s cycle or after a few lifestyle changes are introduced. Certain medications can help correct some infertility problems. Next, let’s cover some common abnormalities that both men and women might find on their at-home fertility test results.
There are two main culprits of infertility for couples:
Evidence that a woman is experiencing a problem with ovulation can be shown in abnormal fertility results. In particular, an abnormal follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) level in women can indicate a problem. Higher than average levels of FSH can mean that a woman’s body is having trouble bringing eggs to maturity. On the other hand, low FSH levels might mean that you are not ovulating.
Luteinizing hormone (LH) is another chemical that indicates ovulation in women. Abnormal LH levels can mean that a woman is not ovulating. Many disorders, including PCOS, may cause a woman’s LH levels to be high and affect fertility. Low LH can happen if your BMI is too low.
Abnormal prolactin levels in women are a common cause of fertility troubles. Non-pregnant women should have very low levels since the hormone is primarily used for milk production in nursing mothers. If you have a high prolactin level, it can hinder your fertility if not corrected.
Men who have an abnormal semen analysis should repeat the at-home fertility test before taking action. There are a few common problems that can show up in a semen analysis, including:
The results are in, and now you can start working to correct any abnormalities that showed up on your at-home fertility testing. Below we cover some common solutions to abnormal fertility values.
Women with abnormal FSH levels may be advised to change medications or start a new medication in order to bring their levels into the normal range. Medications can also be used to correct abnormal LH levels. Lifestyle changes affecting your weight may also improve LH levels for some women. Your doctor may want to run further tests to rule out other disorders that could affect your LH levels.
High prolactin levels can be reduced with medication. Sometimes further testing is required to confirm the cause of the increased levels. Abnormally low prolactin levels may not need to be treated.
Low sperm count in men is the most common abnormality found during fertility testing. It can be caused by many things, including certain medications, untreated diabetes, or hormonal imbalances, among others. Solutions may include testing for and managing these conditions or switching medications.
Abnormal sperm movement can be caused by alcoholism, toxins, smoking, and some medications. Lifestyle changes are often required to correct this abnormality.
Your doctor may run additional tests for men with two abnormal results, including at-home hormone testing for men, which is available through Orchid. Other tests include advanced semen analysis or genetic testing.
At-home fertility testing can be an effective way to reassure yourself that your body is in proper working order. But if the results come back abnormal, which is not uncommon, there are steps you can take to get things back to normal. With early, at-home fertility testing, you now have more time to correct abnormal levels before they become a problem. So, when you’re ready to start your family, your body is ready when you are.
“You want me to do what?!” That’s a common reaction when a lady partner asks her man to get his sperm tested. With infertility being a valid concern affecting one in five couples, lovers are looking for ways to proactively identify fertility issues before they try to grow their families. This increases their chances of conceiving once they are ready.
Since men are half the equation when it comes to fertility, verifying potency is a critical step in confirming fruitfulness. And one of the best ways to test male fertility is through a sperm analysis. Unfortunately, that usually means an awkward visit to a facility where the holder of the sperm masturbates to produce a sample. This has been an inherent part of the process—until now. Today, you can get the job done at home.
Read on to find out more about at-home semen analysis.
Semen, also called seminal fluid, is the ejaculated fluid and its contents, which includes sperm. In order to identify whether your sperm are healthy, evaluating the seminal fluid is also important because it helps the sperm travel more easily.
A semen analysis measures and observes your semen and sperm characteristics. A lab looks at your semen under a microscope and writes down its characteristics, some of which include:
Compare your results to normal ranges so you can easily see if any sperm or semen qualities are out of whack. Having a semen analysis done helps couples identify whether there will be any hiccups when they try to conceive. Or, for other couples who have already been trying for a baby for a while, a semen analysis can help determine which partner needs help restoring their fertility.
If you’ve ever looked into getting your semen analyzed, you have felt nervous about masturbating in some private room of a facility in order to produce your sample. The days of awkwardly handing over your cup of semen to some technician in a medical facility are over. Now, you can get a semen analysis done at home. Here’s how it works:
When you collect your sample at home, you can expect to receive a collection cup, preservative, temperature control pack, and prepaid shipping label so that your precious goods make it to the lab safely.
Also, make sure to follow any instructions before you use your kit. Some things to know before you test:
You’ve done the deed, and now the results are in. What do they mean? Let’s take a look at normal ranges of characteristics for semen.
The shape of sperm can affect its ability to travel and penetrate an egg. The shape includes the oval head as well as the midsection and tail. Some men who struggle with fertility may have abnormally shaped sperm. If more than 50% of your sperm are irregularly shaped, then it is an abnormal result that might be the cause of infertility.
Each load should contain a lot of sperm! A normal sperm count ranges between approximately 40 million to 900 million per sample, or a sperm concentration of 15 million to 260 million per mL. Even though it only takes one sperm to fertilize an egg, your chances drastically decrease if your sperm count is below 20 million during your at-home semen analysis.
Semen should be slightly alkaline at between 7.2 and 7.8 on the pH scale. If your semen’s pH is off, it can affect your fertility. Abnormal seminal pH can also be a symptom of an infection or other malfunction with a man’s reproductive organs.
Similar to the sperm shape, at least half of your sperm need to have normal movement. If your sperm isn’t moving, it will have a hard time making it to the target to fertilize an egg. Look for this result to be above 50% of sperm with normal movement.
A normal range for ejaculate volume is between 1.5 to 7.6mL. This is the amount of liquid measured from the sample. A high volume, along with a low sperm count, may mean that your sperm is diluted. Low volumes can also make it more difficult to conceive if there is not enough seminal fluid.
Collecting your sample for your semen analysis is easier than ever today with at-home testing kits. If you’re ready to get your male fertility tested, you have the option to get it done with dignity from the comfort of your own home. Schedule an appointment with My Virtual Physician today to get your test ordered.
Time is ticking, and with each day that goes by, we’re all getting older. When it comes to fertility, that means that a couple’s chances of conceiving fall as each partner ages.
Biologically speaking, there is a window of about 30 years that women have the best chance to conceive, between the ages of 15 to 44. The odds in favor of getting pregnant decrease as a woman’s body approaches perimenopause.
For a man, sperm health peaks in his thirties and wanes as the biological clock ticks, dropping off after 55.
But age isn’t the only factor that affects your fertility. So, if you’re somewhere in the fertility window, there are things you can do now to be proactive and optimize your chances of having a baby. Let’s cover 5 ways to boost your fertility at home.
What you eat has a huge impact on how your body performs. Think about that classic documentary “Super Size Me,” where Morgan Spurlock showed us all the effects of eating nothing but greasy fast food for a month straight. His dietary experiment resulted in weight gain of nearly 25 pounds, increased his cholesterol, and even caused sexual dysfunction.
If you’re trying to optimize your fertility, up your intake of foods that have healthy antioxidants. Antioxidants are healing molecules found in whole foods; their job is to remove free radicals from your system. High levels of free radicals can damage your body’s cells, including egg and sperm cells. Examples of antioxidants include folate, zinc, vitamin C, and vitamin E.
Below is a small selection of the many whole foods that contain antioxidants:
While you’re increasing your antioxidants, don’t forget to incorporate more fiber into your diet. Fiber helps antioxidants get into and travel through your digestive system smoothly so that they can do their job. Fiber also helps keep your blood sugars stable. Studies have shown a correlation between diabetes and infertility. Fruits, vegetables, and legumes generally have high amounts of fiber.
Getting rid of your bad habits can also boost your fertility. It’s no secret that smoking is detrimental to your health. But did you realize that both smoking and alcohol can actually affect sperm counts, shape, and movements in men? Women also tend to have a conception delay with these habits. So if you’re trying to keep your reproductive cells in tip-top shape, you might want to try breaking these vices.
Caffeine is another stimulant that might affect fertility. In order to ensure that you’re giving your gonads the best chances, take it easy on the caffeine. That means consuming only modest amounts of soda, tea, and coffee. If you need to put a number on it, keep caffeine below 200 mg, that’s about one or two cups of coffee per day, so that it’s not messing with your chances of conceiving.
Eating healthy can be challenging in today’s fast-paced world, where convenience seems to trump the health factor. If you’re struggling to get all of your antioxidants and vitamins from your food, consider taking a multivitamin or a prenatal multivitamin if you’re a woman. Talk with your doctor during a regular checkup to see which multivitamin is right for you.
There are also some natural supplements that may increase male and female fertility. Here are a few:
Always talk with your doctor before beginning any new supplements.
Managing your stress levels can be easier said than done. But if you want to naturally boost your fertility, invest time in reducing your stress levels. When your body and mind are stressed, your reproductive hormone cycles can be thrown off, affecting fertility.
Here are some ways to reduce stress:
If you’re unable to get your stress under control on your own, talking to a counselor or therapist is another option that can help you process whatever is causing your stress.
The final straw–pun intended–is how much water you’re drinking. Dehydration can cause damage to eggs and sperm; it can also affect the viscosity of the fluids that carry egg and sperm to the proper meeting place. When you are drinking enough fluids and electrolytes, blood flow is improved, and organs can function better. A good test of whether you’re drinking enough water is by observing your urine. If your pee is light yellow, then you’re getting enough water. If it’s very dark or bright, then you may be dehydrated.
Fertility can be a bit of a mystery. Following the tips in this article, your fertility should be off the charts! If you’re trying to conceive now or in the near future, these steps are a good guideline to follow.
But it’s not uncommon for couples to be clueless about a fertility problem until they are ready to start having children. So you might be wondering if there’s a way to find out if you’re fertile before you’re even ready to start trying. The good news is–yes! And the better news is–you can test it from home!
My Virtual Physician has partnered with Orchid to provide our patients easy access to at-home fertility testing. Orchid’s fertility test kits are for both men and women, with both hormone and sperm analysis options. Contact us today to get your at-home fertility test kit and remove the mystery of your fertility.
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.
It takes two to tango. While that popular idiom is usually reserved for placing the blame on both parties during an argument, it also holds true for many aspects of life, including fertility. If one partner, whether it be the guy or the gal, has a hiccup in their fertility, then the whole process of making a baby gets put on hold.
When it comes to infertility, both sexes can be equally affected. According to NIH, a couple’s infertility is caused by the man a third of the time, the woman a third of the time, and is uncertain the rest of the time.
It’s a sensitive subject, and while neither partner has likely done an intentional thing to cause it, nobody wants to discover that they’re infertile. So if you’ve been trying to conceive, or maybe you’re just curious about your fertility–you may be wondering what preemptive steps you can take toward testing your fertility–and preferably, at home.
In this blog, we’ll cover who should get at-home fertility testing, along with how to do it.
Both sexes are at risk for infertility. Male infertility often is sperm-related, while female infertility can be caused by hormonal imbalances that affect ovulation. You’ll never know whether you’re infertile until you try to start your family. But what if you want to know before then? The first thing to consider is how many risk factors for infertility apply to you or your partner. Below, we’ll talk about who is at a higher risk for infertility.
A woman’s most fertile years are between the ages of 15 and 44. So once you begin to get close to the higher end of that age range, your fertility begins to wane. That’s because you are approaching menopause, the stage of life when you stop ovulating and become infertile, typically beginning in your mid to late 40s. So if you’re hoping to conceive at an age that is approaching perimenopause, you may want to have your fertility tested so that you can be proactive with correcting any problems before full-blown menopause occurs.
Another factor that is related to a woman’s fertility is her menstrual cycles. If you experience irregular cycles, or are not menstruating at all, it’s a sign that ovulation is not occurring properly or that you may struggle with getting pregnant. If you’re experiencing irregular periods, it can bring peace of mind to have your fertility tested at home now so that you know whether or not there are any ovulation concerns.
A third risk factor for infertility is a personal or family history of surgery or disease of the reproductive system. For example, if your mother or aunts experienced early menopause, premature ovarian failure, advanced endometriosis, reproductive cancers, or infertility, then you may be at a higher risk when it comes to fertility problems. Testing your fertility even before you’re ready to start a family is a reasonable measure to take, especially if there is a history of reproductive disease. With at-home fertility test kits, the option is on the table for everyone.
Lastly, we’ll mention that women who have undergone radiation or chemotherapy may be at an increased risk of infertility. Many women want to confirm that their eggs are still in good shape after cancer treatments. Luckily, at-home fertility testing is an affordable option to verify your fertility at any time.
It’s not just women that are concerned about their ability to procreate; men care, too. Since men are half of the equation, it makes sense to consider testing a man’s fertility to get a full picture of a couple’s ability to reproduce. Let’s discuss some reasons that men may decide to get at-home fertility testing.
Smoking increases the risk of infertility for both sexes, but specifically, it has a detrimental effect on sperm. Studies have shown that smoke may decrease sperm density and movement. If you’re a man with a history of heavy smoking, you may be curious about whether your sperm has been damaged. An at-home fertility test for men can help answer that question.
A history of testicular trauma is another factor that gets men questioning whether they are sexually potent. Unlike women, a man’s reproductive organs are more prone to injury from outside forces due to their external nature. They are at a higher risk of injury from hits, kicks, and other traumas. If a man’s reproductive organs are damaged from past trauma, it can affect fertility. Many men are unsure whether past trauma has hindered their testes. An at-home sperm analysis is a great way for men to see if they are still fertile.
Even if the above risk factors don’t apply to you, you can still have your fertility tested for peace of mind. With at-home fertility testing available to both guys and gals, it allows for an affordable way to get the ball rolling in case there are any concerning results. If you’re ready to test your fertility, we’ve got great news for you. My Virtual Physician has partnered with Orchid in order to provide our patients with quality, at-home fertility testing.
Set up your appointment today to get your test ordered and answer that lingering question… “Am I fertile?”
Listen to your instincts; we all have them. Without them, we likely wouldn’t have made it this far as a species on this planet. Survival instincts protect you from pain and danger, while reproductive instincts encourage procreation–ensuring the long-term survival of humans. It’s the natural cycle of life; primitive instincts drive the survival of the human species. That’s why you’ve always been curious about your fertility. This blog is part of a four-part series where we explore everything you’ve always wondered about your fertility.
This series includes:
Fertility is your natural ability to reproduce; in other words, to conceive and give birth to new life. In its basic form, fertility is the ability to have sex that results in the uniting of sperm and egg, brought to fruition as a newborn child. It’s a natural instinct to have the desire to reproduce, just like it’s a natural instinct to eat food to survive. That’s why it can be so devastating when you are unable to get pregnant.
When you consider all of the factors required to produce new life, it’s a miracle that couples are able to become pregnant at all. Both parties play a role in fertility. You cannot conceive if one of the two is not fertile.
For a woman to be fertile, that means her body has to:
For a man to be fertile, his body has to:
To complicate matters even further, you may have heard that you’re only fertile during certain times of the month. That’s true for women, who comprise half (or arguably more than half) of the equation. A woman’s body is only fertile during ovulation, when the egg is released into the fallopian tube, awaiting fertilization. This period is called the fertile window.
To increase your chance of conceiving, it’s best to have sperm waiting in the fallopian tube before ovulation happens. There’s only a brief period of 12 to 24 hours from the time the egg is released for it to unite with sperm. Since sperm can live for up to five days inside a woman’s reproductive system, that leaves you a fertile window just short of a week.
There are about six days each month that a woman’s body is most fertile. Your body works in cycles, so your ovulation takes place on a cyclical basis. For most women, the entire menstrual cycle takes 28 days to complete–from the first day of each period to the next. Ovulation calculators can help you determine which days you’re most fertile each month and can be adjusted based on your average cycle length. It works like this:
As you can see, fertility is complicated. There’s a multitude of factors that must align in order for conception to happen. So, if you’ve struggled to get pregnant as quickly as you had hoped, you’re not alone. Or maybe you haven’t tried, but are a little surprised that you haven’t had an unplanned pregnancy by this point in your life–leaving you wondering if you’re infertile after all. Should you be worried when the time comes to try? Are there things you can do to be proactive in your fertility? These are all valid questions.
Even if you have no signs or risk factors for infertility now, you might still be curious. Nearly 20 women out of 100 women without children continue to see negative pregnancy test results after a full year of unprotected sex. Sadly, infertility is a common problem for couples. Some factors can increase your risk of infertility, validating your need to find out now whether you are fertile. Some risk factors for infertility include:
Whether you have any of these risk factors or not, you still want to know more about your fertility. The good news is, there’s a way to find out. You can skip the one-year wait that most doctors will require with Orchid at-home fertility testing.
Your curiosity about your fertility is healthy; it’s instinctive. You can ease your mind today with at-home fertility testing, which can give you definitive answers about the mystery of your fertility. My Virtual Physician has partnered with Orchid to provide professional-grade at-home fertility testing to our patients. Our next article will cover how to test your fertility at home.
At-home pregnancy testing has been around since the late 1970s, and these handy tests expedited and revolutionized the way that couples found out they were expecting. They work by sampling the urine for a hormone that is found during pregnancy. And they’ve worked so well that the technology is now moving to give couples answers before they ever try to conceive.
Today, hormone testing has advanced to the point that results can show whether your reproductive system is functioning properly. This testing was once only available inside a specialist’s office, but today has been made available to patients inside their homes for a fraction of the cost.
If you’ve ever been curious about your fertility, you may be contemplating purchasing one of these at-home fertility test kits, a relatively new option available for both men and women. These kits allow you to collect samples from the privacy of your own home and receive confidential results.
But when looking online, there are a lot of at-home testing choices out there, so how do you pick the one that’s right for you? In this guide, we’ll talk about the different sample collection methods used in at-home fertility test kits and help you make an informed decision.
There’s more than one way to test your fertility. Let’s cover some common collection methods used in at-home fertility testing.
Collecting a urine sample is straightforward. Most women have taken a pregnancy test at some point in their lives, and some have even been into a doctor’s office and been asked to pee in a cup. Your urine can tell you a lot about your body. At-home pregnancy tests use urine to detect hCG, a hormone produced during pregnancy; this becomes detectible about ten days after conception.
hCG won’t help you determine your fertility, though. So which hormones can be measured through a urine sample? Luteinizing hormone (LH) and estrogen are two reproductive hormones that are detectible in your pee. These two hormones are helpful in identifying normal ovulation or detecting a problem with the process.
Many over-the-counter ovulation predictor kits (OPKs) measure the amount of LH in your urine to provide accurate feedback about your ovulation. They work by detecting an LH surge, an indication that ovulation will occur soon. In order to obtain accurate results, you must repeat the test over a period of five to ten days, which can get expensive quickly and take several months to determine whether your body is ovulating regularly.
As you can see, testing fertility with urine will only tell you so much. Your blood tells a different story. That’s why other methods are sometimes used in at-home fertility test kits, such as a dried blood spot (DBS) filter card. These work by a finger prick done at home and squeezing a small amount of blood onto a collection card and then allowing it to dry. You’ll send the card back into the lab for analysis and results.
This type of test can be used to measure your FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) levels, an indication of a woman’s ovarian reserve. The accuracy of dried blood spot testing varies, so if you have an abnormal result, testing may need to be repeated in order to confirm your result.
A more accurate method of collecting blood samples for at-home fertility testing is called volumetric absorptive micro sampling, or VAMS. This is a very precise sample collection method because it uses a special collection device that measures an exact amount of blood.
Other advantages to the VAMS collection method include no dry-time, cost-effectiveness, and minimally invasive. VAMS technology can be used to test your fertility hormones, including: LH, FSH, and prolactin. High prolactin levels can disrupt ovulation.
The same technology can be used to test male reproductive hormones, including testosterone and PSA (prostate specific antigen) levels. In addition, hemoglobin A1C levels are often an indication of male fertility, as unhealthy blood sugar levels can affect sperm health.
My Virtual Physician has partnered with Orchid to provide at-home fertility testing to our patients. Orchid trusts and depends on VAMS technology to collect blood samples in their at-home fertility test kits. Find more information about their fertility tests below:
Finally, if you want a comprehensive view of your fertility, you’ve got to take a look at both parties involved: male and female. The best way to test for male fertility is through a semen analysis. Now, at-home sperm collection can be done and sent to a lab. Sperm is collected into a cup and mixed with a preservative, put into a temperature control pack, and shipped to the lab. This sample can be tested for sperm count, motility (movement), shape, and more. Here’s a link to Orchid’s sperm collection kit.
If you’re curious about your fertility and are looking for an accurate snapshot of whether your reproductive system is working properly, we recommend comprehensive testing. For women, that means a VAMS-collected blood test for an accurate measure of hormone levels, and for men, a sperm sample.
While urine samples and DBS cards are options for specific hormones, VAMS sample methods are more accurate and more versatile. Whichever method you choose, we recommend having your results reviewed by a physician.
My Virtual Physician has partnered with Orchid to provide patients with fertility support and feedback following an abnormal fertility result. If you’re interested in getting your fertility tested, schedule an appointment today with My Virtual Physician to order your test kit.
Fertility is fascinating. Many processes–from hormones to sperm production–are involved, requiring perfect functioning and coordination for the whole system to work. And it’s all done without much conscious effort. That’s why it can be so frustrating when something is not functioning as it should–we feel helpless to understand where the problem lies and what can be done to correct it.
Maybe you’ve heard about some of the conditions that can hinder your fertility–such as PCOS–but you’re not really sure if it applies to you. In this blog, we’ll explore polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and its relationship to a woman’s fertility.
PCOS is a syndrome, meaning that it is characterized by a group of symptoms. One in ten women who is between the stages of puberty and menopause has been diagnosed with the condition. Women with PCOS may suffer from these symptoms:
Despite the name, not all women with PCOS have cysts. The most common indications of polycystic ovary syndrome include lack of ovulation and high levels of androgens. Androgens are male reproductive hormones, such as testosterone, that are normally found in small amounts in females.
The cause of PCOS is a hormonal imbalance, along with malfunctioning metabolism. Certain risk factors can increase your chances of being diagnosed with PCOS, including obesity or a family history of the disease.
Many women don’t realize they have PCOS until they struggle to become pregnant. After some time of trying, they may start looking for an explanation and solution–leading them into the OBGYN’s office, which provides a diagnosis: PCOS.
Hormones are critical to fertility and to successful reproduction. They give the body instructions, like telling the ovaries when to release the egg (ovulation). When the reproductive hormones are out of balance, the reproductive system malfunctions–often resulting in infertility. Specifically, PCOS can affect egg development and ovulation.
PCOS is a common cause of infertility. Many women with the syndrome do not ovulate regularly, or at all, because of hormonal imbalances. There is a bright side, though. Some women with PCOS are still able to conceive without any intervention.
Whether you have already been diagnosed with PCOS, or you suspect that you have PCOS, both circumstances allow you to check whether the disease is affecting your ovulation. At-home fertility testing is one way that women can check for ovulation. At-home fertility testing is available to measure hormone levels that indicate proper reproductive functioning, including ovulation.
My Virtual Physician has partnered with Orchid to bring our patients at-home fertility testing options. Their hormonal test kits are available to our patients at an affordable cost. Their female hormone test can provide feedback about whether your body is ovulating by testing FSH, LH, and prolactin levels. If you’re interested in checking your fertility at home, Orchid has the solution.
The short answer is yes, PCOS is treatable. But it is more complicated than that. If PCOS is causing infertility, you’re probably wondering what you can do to treat it.
One aspect of PCOS treatment is very important to understand–your treatment method will vary depending on whether you want to relieve symptoms or treat infertility caused by PCOS. That’s because some PCOS treatments aren’t compatible with fertility.
Oral contraceptives, for example, are one way to manage PCOS symptoms, but will prevent pregnancy. Anti-androgen medications are another treatment for PCOS symptoms like acne or abnormal hair growth, but this treatment can cause birth defects if you become pregnant. So be sure to communicate your fertility goals with your provider.
Some lifestyle changes can improve your PCOS symptoms, including dietary changes, losing weight, or increasing exercise. Specifically, reducing dairy and carbs can help with the symptoms.
Some common treatments for PCOS-related infertility include medications that:
Understanding what polycystic ovary syndrome is can give you a holistic view of how it might affect your fertility. Even if you're unsure about whether your fertility has been affected by PCOS, there is no harm in completing at-home fertility testing to find out. With today’s advancements in healthcare, conceiving with PCOS is possible. Book your appointment today to discuss PCOS or to get your fertility test kit.
If you’re a woman, you’ve probably wondered at some point in your life whether you were fertile. Unfortunately, it’s not an uncommon problem, with as much as 19% of women of childbearing unable to get pregnant.
So if you’re wondering now, is there a way to find out if I’m fertile so that I can be prepared when I am ready to conceive? We have the answer for you. Read on to find out how you can check your fertility.
Before covering how to check your fertility, let’s cover the basics. Fertility is defined as the ability to reproduce. In other words, as a woman, you are fertile if you are able to conceive and sustain a pregnancy to full term. Women are fertile during the childbearing years, from puberty up until menopause.
Infertility, on the other hand, happens when a woman is unable to conceive after a year of trying. Usually, it is due to a hiccup in one of the steps required for pregnancy, which are:
Some factors may increase your chances of being infertile when you’re ready to try to conceive. Here is a list of traits that are associated with female infertility:
Many doctors will not explore the possibility of infertility until you have met one or more of the following criteria:
If you do not yet meet those criteria, but still have a desire to test your fertility–you still have options.
Option #1: If you want to naturally self-monitor if and when you are ovulating, practice the fertility awareness method. This can be used to detect the signs of ovulation and is used by both women who are looking to prevent pregnancy as well as those who want to conceive. This method incorporates a combination of three observations: counting the days of your cycle, checking basal body temperature, and checking for changes in cervical mucus. There are also ovulation test strips available over the counter to help you confirm fertility.
Option #2: If you don’t have the patience for option #1, there is a much quicker way to determine your fertility. In-home fertility testing is available. My Virtual Physician has partnered with Orchid to provide our patients with the ability to test fertility hormone levels at any point in their journey.
All that is required is a consultation with our online gynecologists who will provide you a prescription for your at-home test kit. These kits are very affordable, easy to do at home with a finger prick, and are sent back to a professional lab. Your results are reviewed by our OBGYN team and if there are any fertility concerns, actionable steps are provided and our team of specialists is here to help.
Take the first step and book your appointment with My Virtual Physician to get your at-home fertility test kit today.
If you’ve had fertility testing done and the results were concerning, but also provided no actionable steps, we recommend trying Orchid test kits. These kits use accurate VAMS technology and the detailed, personalized results come with action steps that can restore your fertility. My Virtual Physician is staffed with board-certified OBGYNs who are available to meet with you virtually and discuss your fertility results, along with an action plan.