How to Test Your Fertility at Home
So you’re thinking about having a baby in the future and want to know more about your own fertility. Can you check your fertility numbers 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 four primary hormones controlling fertility are Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH), Luteinizing Hormone (LH), Progesterone, and Estradiol (the primary form of Estrogen).
A note on the menstrual cycle:
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 was 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 Lutueal 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.
Monitoring Fertility at Home
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 Health & Fertility Panel checks FSH, LH, Estradiol, and Progesterone via at home testing. Our Women’s Health and Fertility test checks DHEA and testosterone, other hormones that interact with estradiol.
In addition, Everly checks the other most common hormonal causes of infertility. These causes include abnormalities in adrenal and thyroid function. Everly checks cortisol four times throughout the day, and various markers of thyroid function, including TSH, Free T3 and T4, and Thyroid Peroxidase antibodies.In consultation with a physician, you can take steps towards maximizing the regularity of your cycle, which can benefit your fertility, mood, and even your metabolism.