At-home fertility tests analyze your hormone levels to evaluate your fertility. How effective and useful these tools are often depends on your reason for using them.
At home fertility tests offer a wealth of information from the comfort of your own home. These tests analyze various hormone levels to help you paint a picture of different aspects of your fertility.
There are lots of different types, and the vast majority are convenient and easy to use. With some at-home fertility tests, you prick your finger and send your blood sample to a lab for testing. With others, you pee on a stick and test your urine yourself.
Whatever the type you use, it’s important to keep in mind that at-home fertility tests are both an empowering source of information and a tool with limits like any other.
How they work Why people use them When to use them How much they cost How do at-home fertility tests work?
At-home fertility tests help you get a look at your fertility by analyzing hormone levels. Different at-home tests check different combinations of hormones. Some common hormones that tests may analyze include:
Estrogen Luteinizing hormone (LH) Progesterone Prolactin Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) Anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)
These hormones all play a role in your reproductive functions, and analyzing them can give you insight into your fertility.
>>MORE: 8 Signs Your Hormones May Be Out of Balance – And What to Do Next
For example, AMH, FSH, and estrogen levels can offer information about your ovarian reserve. TSH levels influence the length of your menstrual cycle and the regularity of your periods. LH and progesterone levels indicate ovulation.
The type of at-home fertility test you use will partly depend on which aspects of your fertility you want to explore.
Why do people use at-home fertility tests?
At-home fertility tests can be pretty appealing. These tools offer you easy access to information about what’s going on in your body. For many people, it can feel empowering to be armed with knowledge about their reproductive health.
Like any tool, at-home fertility tests have pros and cons, and how you weigh them depends on your unique situation.
The pros Convenient
You can use at-home fertility tests on your time, when you feel ready, from the comfort of your own home. There’s no need to make a doctor’s appointment or fit medical visits into your busy schedule.
At-home fertility tests either use a blood sample obtained through a finger prick, or analyze urine. This makes them pretty non-invasive, particularly compared to certain types of in-person fertility testing like medical procedures.
While additional in-person testing may be necessary depending on your case, at-home tests can still be a useful, non-invasive starting point.
at-home fertility tests, like Oova, use urine samples instead of blood samples. In this case, the at-home testing experience is non-invasive and painless: all you have to do is pee on a test strip, then wait a few minutes while your results are analyzed. Low cost
At-home fertility testing can be less expensive than doctor’s appointments and in-person testing. However, this may depend on whether or not you have insurance, what your coverage is, and how much at-home or in-person testing you need.
The cons Hard-to-understand results
The results you get from an at-home fertility test can be difficult to interpret. You may not know which hormones to look at, or what their different levels might indicate. Even if you do understand what you’re looking at, you might not be sure how to use this knowledge to your benefit.
Some at-home fertility testing kits aim to help bridge this knowledge gap, offering things like:
Phone consultations to discuss your results with a registered nurse Personalized insight concerning your results, available through additional features like smartphone apps Options to send your results directly to your doctor in real time
How accurate is an at-home fertility test? While many companies advertise their product as 99% accurate, like any tool, at-home fertility tests have the potential to be unreliable.
For example, if you don’t follow testing directions carefully, you may get misleading results. For people with
irregular cycles or hormone levels outside of average ranges, certain at-home tests may not be adapted to fit their particular situation. This can also be a source of inaccurate results.
Some at-home fertility tests, however, have moved away from the “standard” 28-day cycle as a baseline for testing. These tests may be able to offer more accurate results for people with irregular cycles or abnormal hormone levels.
It’s important to remember that at-home fertility testing has its limits. These tests can’t diagnose or offer treatment plans; rather, they provide a more or less developed snapshot of different hormone levels throughout your cycle. Any underlying factors that might be influencing these levels remain unknown with at-home testing alone.
Addressing the cons
Looping in your doctor, or a fertility specialist, can be a good option for combatting these cons and boosting the efficacy of at-home fertility tests. A doctor can help you interpret your at-home testing results, determine if more tests need to be run (including in-person tests), and begin to understand what could be causing your results.
When can you use at-home fertility tests?
Anyone can use an at-home fertility test at any time. That being said, this type of testing may be more useful in some cases than in others. How useful and effective at-home testing can be for you likely depends on why you’re using it.
When you’re trying to conceive
If you’re trying to get pregnant, at-home fertility tests can be a great tool for understanding your cycle. These tests can help you:
Know when you’re ovulating Find your fertile window Determine when you should have sex to increase your chances of conceiving
At-home fertility tests may be particularly useful for monitoring your ovulation after stopping birth control. Depending on the type of contraception you were using, you may start ovulating again (and be able to conceive) immediately after stopping use. It can sometimes be hard, however, to recognize
signs of ovulation post-birth control on your own. At-home fertility tests come in handy here: they may tell you that you’ve started ovulating sooner than you would have expected. >>MORE: How To Get Pregnant Quickly After Birth Control
You can think of an at-home fertility test as a starting point. It’s great to have information about your hormones at your fingertips, and for some people, this is enough to be able to get pregnant.
When you’re dealing with infertility
Depending on your body, needs, and timeline, your situation may call for something more in-depth than at-home fertility tests after a certain point. This is particularly the case with
Infertility is generally defined as the inability to get pregnant after
one year of unprotected sex, or six months of unprotected sex if you’re over 35. If you’ve been struggling to conceive for a while and suspect you may be dealing with infertility, at-home fertility tests likely won’t be able to give you the answers or the help you need.
Turning to a fertility specialist, like a
reproductive endocrinologist (REI) or a reproductive urologist, can be the next step in addressing fertility issues. While you can certainly share with your doctor any data that you received through at-home fertility tests, you will very likely need to undergo more comprehensive in-person testing. When you’re dealing with a reproductive health condition
If you have certain medical diagnoses, such as
PCOS, at-home fertility tests can help you keep track of changes in hormone levels. Monitoring these changes in relation to your treatment plans may help you and your healthcare provider manage your symptoms.
Many people with reproductive health conditions have irregular cycles. If you’re trying to conceive, irregular cycles can make it tough to track your ovulation and hormone levels by yourself. At-home fertility tests may make it easier to understand when in your cycle you’re most likely to get pregnant.
When you want to knowing your baseline
At-home fertility tests can also serve as another tool for tracking your menstrual cycle and hormone levels in general. This information can help give you a sense of what’s normal for you.
Knowing your baseline can be useful for picking up on changes. If you’ve already been tracking your cycle and hormone levels for some time, you may be able to notice if something is suddenly different. This could help you understand sooner if and when it’s time to turn to a doctor for help.
Alternatively, if you’ve been feeling off and want to begin tracking your menstrual cycle more closely to relay information to your doctor, at-home fertility tests can be a useful option. Even though your doctor will likely have you undergo in-person testing, data on your cycle may still be useful.
How much does an at-home fertility test cost?
Fertility tests typically cost between $150 and $200. For this cost, you’ll usually get insights into your various hormone levels. Depending on the specific test, you might get an app to track your hormone levels and symptoms; you may also get a consultation with professional to discuss your results.
Oova’s test kit costs $159.99 (or less if you subscribe for monthly refills). You can test your luteinizing hormone (LH) and progesterone levels with urine test strips and smartphone app, then review these findings in a hormone report and during a consultation with an Oova expert.
At-home fertility tests: the takeaway
Depending on your situation and your goals, at-home fertility tests can offer an easy-to-use, inexpensive, and non-invasive option for evaluating your fertility. Like any tool, these tests have their limits and they may not always be adapted to your particular needs.
To decide if at-home fertility tests are a useful tool for you, consider thinking about what you want to know about your fertility and researching test types that can give you this information.