If you’re struggling to conceive, you’re not alone. In fact, an estimated 10% of women aged 15-49 have problems with getting or staying pregnant. Fortunately, there are fertility tests to help you better understand your body and find solutions. Below, we’ll guide you through the most popular at-home fertility tests.
What defines infertility?
For those that are wondering at which point you’re considered to have infertility issues, the true definition of female infertility is as follows:
“A woman’s inability to conceive after one year of regular sexual behavior without the use of contraception (or six months if aged 35 or older).”
What are some common markers of women’s fertility issues?
There are many common markers for women’s infertility, which includes:
- Irregular periods
- Underlying health issues (Endometriosis, PCOS)
- Hormonal changes
It should be noted that women aren’t the only ones that contribute to fertility problems in couples. In fact, they make up only ⅓ of fertility-related issues, while the other ⅓ account for male-related issues, and the final ⅓ is a combination of both or unknown factors.
So, it’s important for both partners to test for infertility, though today’s focus is on female fertility testing.
What is female fertility testing?
Female fertility testing is an important step in assessing the cause of infertility and taking proactive measures for treatment.
While there is a full range of fertility tests available, here at Vytal Health, we focus on two main types: the fertility test panel and menstrual cycle mapping. These tests can be done at home, but you’ll need some help with interpretation of the results and with addressing any abnormalities.
The Fertility Test Panel
The Fertility Test Panel is a simple blood spot and saliva test for women. With a quick prick of the finger, the blood spot component is extremely useful to look at thyroid markers as well as female reproductive hormones (like estrogen and progesterone levels) and to tell us if you’re ovulating. The salivary testing includes cortisol and DHEA levels, to assess your adrenal glands’ response to stress. It is well-understood that when cortisol is high, a woman may not ovulate regularly.
The test itself is very simple and takes only one day of your menstrual cycle to complete (day 21, to be exact).
Menstrual Cycle Mapping
Before we get into menstrual cycle mapping, let’s review the menstrual cycle itself.
After all, to be able to track your period or cycle, it’s important to understand the 4 phases of it:
- Menstruation is the process of removing the thicker uterine lining from the body through the vagina. Menstruation typically lasts between 3-5 days.
- The follicular phase begins on the first day of menstruation and concludes when the egg is released (ovulation). The pituitary gland in the brain produces follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) in response to hormonal changes happening in the ovaries This happens around day 10 of a 28-day cycle.
- Ovulation is the release of a mature egg from the surface of the ovary. This normally happens in the middle of the cycle, around two weeks before menstruation begins, and is triggered by a spike in luteinizing hormones (LH), another pituitary hormone
- Luteal phase. A fertilized egg implants in the uterine lining, it generates the hormones needed to keep what’s known as the corpus luteum, a mass of progesterone-secreting cells on the ovary, healthy. The corpus luteum breaks down if pregnancy does not occur, generally around day 22. The cycle then starts all over again with menstruation.
How does menstrual cycle mapping work?
If you’re running into issues when it comes to female fertility, there are a few reasons linked to the menstrual phases that can be involved, but it’s important to measure your hormones appropriate in order to know for sure.
That’s where Menstrual Cycle Mapping comes in.
This urine test is performed at home over the course of an entire menstrual cycle. The first urine of the day is collected every-other-day. An absorptive paper is used to soak up the hormones being released into the urine that day. Once 30 days-worth of papers are collected and dry, the lab processes them and is able to map your menstrual cycle for that entire month.
Menstrual cycle mapping allows you and your doctor to track estrogen , progesterone, and LH levels. The LH component will tell your doctor where you’re trending in terms of your ovulation time.
This is a more specific panel that helps define when you ovulate and how your estrogen and progesterone levels are balanced at the different phases of the cycle, which is an important way to get clarity around your own cycle as a stepping stone in your journey.
There you have it: The female fertility tests available to you. If you’re ready to talk to a professional and get more personal treatment, schedule a consultation here.