The toll that it takes on you when you’re trying to conceive can be utterly indescribable. And when you’re desperate to see two pink lines on a pregnancy test, you might look for alternative ways to improve your chances of getting pregnant. So if you’ve been searching online for some solutions and spy an at-home fertility test, you might wonder if it can help you. And the short answer is: it can.
There are so many reasons why you might want to take an at-home fertility test. Maybe you’re curious to see if you could conceive if (and when) you wanted to. Or perhaps you’re surprised that you’ve been having unprotected sex for a while now and still haven’t gotten pregnant. That’s when you might start feeling worried about the possibility of infertility. Infertility is defined as being unable to become pregnant after 12 months of consistent and unprotected sex, according to a PubMed study. And sadly, it affects between 8-12% of child-bearing aged couples worldwide. It makes sense, then, that you might want to assess the situation privately before going to a clinic or speaking with a fertility expert about it. Luckily, there are plenty of tests you can take in the comfort of your home that might be able to offer some answers, Dr. Barry Witt, MD, a board-certified reproductive endocrinologist and medical director at WINFertility tells Romper. “At-home fertility tests include sperm evaluations for men, assessments of egg numbers in women, and tests that track women’s cycles for determining ovulation and timing intercourse,” Dr. Witt explains. “Many of the tests are accurate at what they are testing for, but the utility of the tests may be more limited than they seem.”
Here’s How An At-Home Fertility Test Works
If you thought that at-home fertility tests were just for women, think again. “At-home semen evaluations may be useful for men who are hesitant to go to a fertility specialist and who would otherwise delay the test or not ever do one,” says Dr. Witt. “But they are not replacements for proper male fertility testing which typically includes an evaluation by a physician and a semen sample analyzed by a professional andrology laboratory.”
To assess your fertility at home, all you need to do is be ready to prick your finger. “At-home tests that evaluate ‘ovarian reserve,’ which refers to the number of eggs remaining in the ovary, usually involve collecting a small blood sample (finger stick) and sending it off to a laboratory for testing,” says Dr. Witt. “The testing looks at a hormone called anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) which is a substance produced in the ovarian follicles (where the eggs are) and is released into the blood, so higher levels of AMH indicate more eggs.”
How Effective Are At-Home Fertility Tests?
While understanding how many eggs you have is always important information, (especially as it relates to getting pregnant), knowing the number isn’t necessarily going to be an indicator of either fertility or infertility. “It has been documented that ovarian reserve testing is not helpful in predicting reproductive potential or fertility in women who are not infertile and just want to check on their fertility,” says Dr. Witt. And here’s why: if you’ve been struggling with getting pregnant (and can then pinpoint a low number of eggs), that can help you to potentially figure out the source of infertility. Still, it doesn’t address the many other issues that might be the root cause of infertility, such as problems with the fallopian tubes or uterus, ovulation dysfunction, diseases such as diabetes, obesity, or thyroid issues, or other hormonal problems, according to a PubMed study.
Should You Take An At Home Fertility Test?
Ultimately, it’s up to you if you want to take an at-home fertility test. There are many on the market that can offer some insight into potential infertility issues and possibly give you some peace of mind. Most require a finger prick, although some might need a saliva sample, too. More often than not, patients will have to pay out of pocket for these tests, since at-home fertility tests are not commonly covered by health insurance, the Kaiser Family Foundation reported. Typically, they cost between $100-$200 (or more), but that might be a small price to pay in order to have the answers you so desperately want and need.
Here’s What Experts Say About At-Home Fertility Tests
There’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t take an at-home fertility test if you want to. Just keep in mind that while it does mimic some of the testing that you would go through if you were in a doctor’s office, it still might have some limitations. “If there is an issue with infertility, the best advice is for each partner to be seen by a reproductive endocrinologist,” Dr. Kecia Gaither, MD, MPH, FACOG, a double board-certified in OB/GYN and Maternal Fetal Medicine, Director of Perinatal Services at NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln tells Romper. “A complete history, physical, and laboratory/radiologic evaluation as necessary can be had to potentially pinpoint the issue at hand.”
Dr. Witt agrees, adding, “At-home testing should be considered a supplement, rather than a replacement, for testing and evaluation by a fertility specialist,” he says. “It should be clear that at-home fertility testing cannot fully evaluate for infertility.”
When you want to figure out if you’re having infertility issues, taking an at-home fertility test might give you some quick answers. But according to the experts, if you’ve been trying to conceive for more than a year, or are over 35, it might be best to skip the at-home tests and go straight to a fertility specialist. That way, you’ll save yourself some time (and a lot of stress) as you continue on your journey towards motherhood.
Borght, M., Wyns, C. “Fertility and infertility: Definition and epidemiology” 2018.
Masoumi, S., Parsa, P., Darvish, N., Mokhtari, S, Yavangi, M., Roshanaei, G. “An epidemiologic survey on the causes of infertility in patients referred to infertility center in Fatemieh Hospital in Hamadan” 2015.
Dr. Barry Witt, MD, a board-certified reproductive endocrinologist and medical director at WINFertility
Dr. Kecia Gaither, MD, MPH, FACOG, a double board-certified in OB/GYN and Maternal Fetal Medicine, Director of Perinatal Services at NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln