How do fertility tests work? Fertility tests measure different hormones to offer you insight into your fertility and overall hormonal health.

We at LetsGetChecked understand that the prospect of fertility testing can be daunting so we have detailed how fertility tests work in the simplest terms, as well as talking you through what you need to know when it comes optimizing your chances of getting pregnant.


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Fertility Facts



What Is Infertility?


Infertility as defined by the World Health Organization as “the failure to achieve a clinical pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse.” There are two types of infertility:

  • Primary infertility refers to couples who cannot conceive following one year of unprotected sex.

  • Secondary infertility refers to couples who successfully conceived in the past but are now unable to get pregnant successfully now.


What Causes Infertility?


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Lifestyle

Certain lifestyle factors such as heavy smoking, drinking and use of recreational drugs, particularly marijuana, are known to impact one’s fertility potential. Smoking marijuana has been shown to reduce sperm count and sperm quality significantly.

Genetics

Excessive exercise can increase stress hormones (such as cortisol), which can reduce the amount of testosterone in your body, this in turn will reduce the amount of sperm being produced. The overproduction of cortisol in men and women causes adrenal hormonal imbalances and thus a decreased likelihood of healthy conception.

Weight

Any extremes in weight will negatively impact on one’s ability to fall pregnant. Being overweight or obese drastically lowers your ability to get pregnant. Women who are obese are twice as likely to suffer from a miscarriage. Being underweight in males or females also drastically lowers your ability to get pregnant.

Fertility Disorders

What are the symptoms of infertility in women?

  • Inability to get pregnant for over one year despite regular unprotected sex.
  • A menstrual cycle that lasts for over 35 days. (Too long)
  • A menstrual cycle that is less than 21 days. (Too short)
  • A period that is irregular or absent, this indicates that you are not ovulating.
  • Menstrual bleeding is significantly heavier or lighter for over six months.
  • Periods becoming more painful with heavy cramping, lower back pain and pelvic pain

What are the symptoms of infertility in men?

  • Loss of libido
  • Changes in hair growth, this may include hair thinning, balding or the cessation of bodily hair growth.
  • Swelling and/or pain in the testicles
  • Issues with achieving an orgasm, caused by an inability to acheive an erection or ejeculation
  • Testicles becoming smaller
  • Swelling in the scrotum (varicocele)

How Do Fertility Tests Work?


Most sex education classes in schools offer the idea that for a successful pregnancy, it’s simply a case of male sperm fusing with a female egg. However it is much more complex than that.

Factors that directly affect fertility include the age, quantity and quality of the sperm and eggs.

Females are born with one to two million “eggs in waiting” known as primary oocytes meaning that a woman’s eggs are the same age as her. With each menstrual cycle, the number of eggs in a female’s ovaries continuously declines. A woman’s eggs are the same age as her.

Women are most fertile between the ages of 20 and 24. From the age of 32, a woman’s chance of becoming pregnant starts to significantly decline. From the age of 40, a woman’s chance of conceiving is reduced by half. The quantity of the eggs doesn’t directly affect fertility, it is their age and quality that will determine the level of difficulty in getting pregnant.

Males are not born with ready-made sex cells. Instead they develop over time during puberty. Sperm develops and is stored in the testicles.

The average male can produce 525 billion sperm cells in a lifetime. It only takes one sperm to fertilize a woman's egg but the quality of that sperm and the quality of the egg it fuses with, will determine whether or not the pregnancy will be successful.

Following sexual intercourse, sperm travels from the tip of the penis to the cervix. The cervix is the entrance between the vagina and the womb. From there it can take 72 hours for the sperm to reach the egg.


How Is A Woman's Fertility Tested?


Some of the most common methods of fertility testing include x-rays, imaging tests and hormonal testing.

Using today's technology, it is now possible to take fertility tests that focus on your hormones from the comfort of your own home.

At LetsGetChecked, we offer a full suite of female fertility tests. Depending on the test you choose, you will be able to find out how many eggs you have left, whether are ovulating correctly or receive a general overview of your hormonal health.

Let's take a look at some of the most common female fertility testing options on the market.


The Ovarian Reserve Test


The Ovarian Reserve Test measures how many eggs you have left or "in reserve".

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The Ovarian Reserve Test measures anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) in the blood, offering insight into how many eggs you have left, or "in reserve."


The Ovarian Reserve Test measures:

Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH), which is secreted by cells in ovarian follicles. From the moment you are born, the number of eggs in your ovaries starts to decrease. As we age, the level of anti-mullerian hormone in your blood begins to decline more rapidly.


Your level of AMH indicates how many eggs you have. This can help to indicate your fertility potential, both for the present and the future.

If a woman's AMH levels are below what is normal for her age, this may that her chances of becoming pregnant are lower than what is expected for her age.

If you are thinking about having IVF, this test can also give you an indication of how you are likely to respond to treatment.

You should consider taking the Ovarian Reserve Test if:

  • You are curious about your fertility status
  • You require IVF treatment
  • You are living with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
  • You are living with Turner's Syndrome
  • You are living with endometriosis
  • You are living with autoimmune disorders
  • You have suffered pelvic injuries
  • You have undergone chemotherapy or radiation

The Progesterone Ovulation Test


The Progesterone-Ovulation Test offers insight into your ovulation function.

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The Progesterone-Ovulation Test measures the volume of progesterone in your blood on day 21 of your cycle. This test will help you uncover whether you are ovulating or not.


The Progesterone-Ovulation Test measures:

Progesterone is a female hormone that prepares the uterus for implantation of a fertilized egg.


Following implantation of a fertilized egg, progesterone maintains the uterine lining during pregnancy.

The Progesterone-Ovulation Test test monitors ovulation on Day 21 of your period. By examining progesterone in the blood, the test can decipher whether you are ovulating.

You can purchase the Progesterone-Ovulation Test here.

You should consider taking a Progesterone-Ovulation Test if:

  • You are curious about your fertility status
  • You have suffered miscarriages
  • You are monitoring pre-existing ovulation issues
  • You are living with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
  • You are living with endometriosis
  • You are experiencing the menopause and you want to better understand your symptoms

The Female Hormone Test


The Female Hormone Test offers a fully comprehensive overview of your fertility status.

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The Female Hormone Test measures key female hormones, which can help to rule out certain hormonal disorders.

The Female Hormone Test is taken Day 3 of the menstrual cycle. It is recommended that no hormonal contraceptives be taken at this time, if possible, as this offers a clearer portrait of your hormonal levels.


The Female Hormone Test measures:

Follicle Stimulating Hormone stimulates the growth of ovarian follicles before the egg is released in the fallopian tube. It controls the menstrual cycle and the production of eggs. It is responsible for pubertal maturation.

Levels of follicle stimulating hormone vary throughout a woman’s cycle but they are at their highest when an egg is being released. The test checks your level of follicle stimulating hormone in the blood and by that technology can give you a clearer view of your ovarian reserve.

Luteinizing Hormone is responsible for ovulation. It works in conjunction with follicle stimulating hormone to trigger the release of the egg. Elevated levels of luteinizing hormone may indicate ovarian failure or polycystic ovarian syndrome.

Prolactin is responsible for the production of breast milk after childbirth. High levels of prolactin in the blood may indicate that you are perimenopausal, experiencing thyroid issues or issues with ovulation.

Oestradiol is responsible for sexual function and the development of secondary sexual characteristics. It maintains eggs within the ovaries. High levels of oestradiol can suppress follicle stimulating hormone. Unbalanced oestradiol can be responsible for a whole host of negative side effects and symptoms.


You should consider taking the Female Hormone Test if:

  • You are curious about your fertility status
  • You have been diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
  • You have been diagnosed with ovarian failure
  • You have been diagnosed with low ovarian reserve
  • You are experiencing an early menopause
  • You want to track your menopause and corresponding symptoms
  • You are experiencing thyroid issues
  • You want to examine your ovulation function

How Is A Man's Fertility Tested?


A man's fertility is commonly tested through semen and sperm analysis. This sort of screening is necessary because for the majority of men, there will be no obvious signs of infertility.

Men may experience normal erections and ejaculation while also dealing with underlying issues connected to their hormonal health.

LetsGetChecked also provide the Male Hormone Advanced Test which will be able to offer men a much deeper insight into their hormonal health. Male hormones are likely to impact on fertility, though the symptoms of hormonal balance may be very vague.


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The Male Hormone Advanced Test measures:

Testosterone is responsible for the production of sperm. It plays a part in sex drive, fat distribution, bone mass, muscle size, strength and red blood cell production.

Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG) binds sex hormones to one another so they can be transported through the bloodstream.

Free Androgen Index indicates testosterone levels based on the ratio of testosterone compared to sex hormone-binding globulin.

Oestradiol is a female hormone. High levels of oestradiol in a man can lead to erectile dysfunction, enlarged breast tissue, increased abdominal fat, feelings of tiredness and type 2 diabetes.

Prolactin is responsible for testosterone secretion, and spermatogenesis, or the development of mature spermatozoa.

The male hormone test calculates the amount of usable testosterone in the system. Irregular or low levels of testosterone will indicate whether further support and testing is advised.

You should consider taking the Male Hormone Advanced Test if:

  • You want a better understanding of your hormonal health
  • You are obese
  • You suffer from chronic stress
  • You take anabolic steroids
  • You have a family history of low testosterone
  • You suffer from thyroid issues
  • You have kidney or liver disease
  • You have anorexia nervosa
  • You are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy
  • You suffer from type 1 or type 2 diabetes
  • You suffer from hemochromatosis
  • You have a pituitary gland disorder

How Do You Increase Your Chances Of Getting Pregnant?


Maintain a healthy body weight


Men and women who are overweight can take twice as long to become pregnant. A man or woman who is underweight might take four times as long to impregnate. It is important to maintain a healthy weight to increase your chances of becoming pregnant.


Know your nutrients


A varied diet with an adequate supply of calcium, protein and iron is essential in fuelling the body correctly. Calcium, folic acid, healthy fats, vitamin B12, vitamin D and iron are particularly important for a healthy pregnancy. In men, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B12 and zinc are the keys in healthy conception.


Quit smoking and drinking


Smoking tobacco and drinking are never good for you and you should cut down or quit when trying to get pregnant as both drinking and smoking affect your ability to get pregnant.


Get enough rest


Ensure that both of you are getting enough sleep. A lack of good quality rest can cause a rise in cortisol and put you at greater risk of developing adrenal fatigue, in a similar way to over-exercising. Good quality sleep ensures that you are functioning to an optimal level and this includes your chances of a conception.


De-stress


While it is understandable that you may want to start your family as soon as possible, try not to attach stress to the prospect of getting pregnant. Focus on the journey and not the destination. Often the best things happen when you are not expecting them.


Monitoring the menstrual cycle


Women generally ovulate two weeks before the arrival of their period. There are several methods women can use to determine their most fertile days of the month.


To find out if fertility testing is right for you, watch our short video with Dr. Dominic Rowley:



The LetsGetChecked Medical team is available to offer guidance and support should you have any questions. You can live chat or schedule a call with our nursing team by clicking on this link.

Whatever your worries, we will do everything we can to help you on your health journey.



Read: When Are You Most Fertile?


Written by Hannah Kingston | Medically Approved by Dr. Dominic Rowley