So you’re thinking about having a baby in the future and want to know more about your own reproductive cycles. Can you check your fertility hormones at home? In short, yes you can, but you should understand what to check, and why.
Fertility is influenced by many factors including genetics, anatomy, and hormones -- as well as lifestyle. Genetics and anatomy are difficult to change, but in many cases, your hormones can be managed with the help of your doctor. Your reproductive hormones interact with each other and change in specific ways throughout your menstrual cycle. If one hormone is off, your whole cycle can be off.
The three primary hormones controlling ovulation are Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH), Luteinizing Hormone (LH), and Estradiol (the primary form of Estrogen). However, imbalances in thyroid hormones as well as testosterone can also impact your ability to ovulate.
The menstrual cycle begins with the Follicular Phase, which commences with menstruation. A decrease in hormones from the previous cycle cause the recently developed lining of the uterus to start to shed. FSH begins to increase during this phase because of the recent loss of estradiol that suppresses FSH. FSH, as implied in follicle stimulating name, stimulates the follicles of the ovary until a single dominant follicle is selected. This follicle then starts to produce estradiol. As estradiol increases, the uterus starts to prepare for possible implantation and there is a surge in LH.
Once the surge in LH commences, the body transitions from the Follicular Phase to the Luteal Phase. The LH phase causes the selected follicle to evolve into its final phase before fertilization, the corpus luteum. The corpus luteum produces estradiol and progesterone, which help build the uterine lining. If not fertilized, the corpus luteum eventually breaks down, no longer producing progesterone and estradiol, causing the uterine lining to break down into menses, and the cycle starts over again.
For normal cycles to occur, these hormones operate in delicate balance with one another; therefore, it is no surprise that hormonal imbalances are a frequent cause of fertility issues.
Until fairly recently, the only methods women had to monitor the functioning of their cycle was monitoring the regularity of their menstrual cycle and checking whether their body temperature increased the 0.5 degrees concomitant with increasing progesterone and ovulation.
Today, however, you can actually check your levels of all these hormones at key times in your cycle. Specifically, tests like our own Everlywell Women's Fertility Test checks FSH, LH, Estradiol, TSH and Total Testosterone.
In consultation with a healthcare provider, you can take steps towards maximizing the regularity of your cycle, which can benefit your fertility, mood, and even your metabolism.
This test will tell you your levels of 5 different hormones involved in fertility - and whether your levels fall within established normal ranges.