7th July, 20229 min read

Fertility tests for women: am I still fertile?

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Having a question mark hanging over your fertility can be one of life’s big worries. Maybe you’ve been trying to have a baby for a while but it’s just not happening, and you’re worried about

infertility
. This can feel really upsetting, especially if well-intentioned relatives ask the dreaded ‘So when are you having a baby?’ question.

Or perhaps you’re not quite ready to be a parent just yet, but you’d like to future-proof your fertility. Either way, a female fertility test is one option for finding out more.

When should you take a fertility test?

If you’ve been trying for a baby for a few months, it’s best not to worry. Most couples, where the woman is under 40, will get pregnant within a year – that is if you and your partner have been having

unprotected
sex every 2 to 3 days.

But if you’ve been trying for longer than a year (6 months if you’re over 35), or if you notice any of

these key symptoms
, it might be a good idea to look into fertility tests, or speak to a doctor about your options.

Your partner should also think about getting their fertility checked if 12 months have passed – after all, it takes 2 to get pregnant and fertility problems can affect both partners.

Read more about

male fertility tests
.

What is a female fertility test?

Fertility tests for women can include:

Sometimes you might be referred to a specialist for more tests, such as an X-ray or a laparoscopy. Find out more about different

female fertility tests
.

Where can you get a female fertility test?

For fertility blood tests, there are a range of different home-testing kits you can order online.

Hertility
is one of these (£149), which uses a finger-prick blood test to check lots of different fertility hormones. You do the test at home, usually on day 3 of your period, then post it off to a lab to get your results.

First up, you’ll fill in a short online questionnaire, then you’ll receive your test kit in the post.

You’ll be asked questions such as:

Read the step-by-step instructions for

how to take the test
.

While Hertility’s blood test can give you a good idea of where your fertility hormones are at, it doesn’t include other fertility checks, such as screening for STIs or an ultrasound scan.

Which hormones are checked during a female fertility blood test?

The hormones that can be looked at during a Hertility blood test include:

  • anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) – used to check your ovarian reserve (the number of eggs you have left), which drops as you get older. This means your AMH levels will vary depending on your age. Read more about
    how many eggs a woman has in her lifetime
  • luteinizing hormone (LH) – the hormone that controls your menstrual cycle and triggers the release of an egg from your ovaries (
    ovulation
    ). If your levels of LH are too high or too low, you might not be ovulating, which can stop pregnancy from happening
  • follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) – the hormone that controls your menstrual cycle and helps your eggs mature in your ovaries. If you’re struggling to get pregnant and your FSH levels are higher or lower than normal, this could be another signal that you're not ovulating
  • thyroxine (T4) – a hormone used to check how well your thyroid is working. High levels of T4 might mean you have an
    overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)
    and low levels of T4 can reveal an
    underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)
    . Both conditions can affect ovulation and your fertility
  • thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) – another hormone that shows how well your thyroid gland is working, which is really important for fertility. If your TSH levels are too low (hypothyroidism) or too high (hyperthyroidism), ovulation can be affected, which might make it harder for you to get pregnant
  • sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) – a protein made by your liver, which binds to sex hormones, including testosterone, and sends them round your body. If your SHBG levels are low, it can sometimes be a sign of
    polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
    or hypothyroidism. This is another factor that can affect ovulation and make it difficult to get pregnant. But high SHBG levels can be caused by hyperthyroidism, which may also stop ovulation from happening
  • prolactin – a hormone that causes breasts to grow and make milk during pregnancy, and after birth. It means prolactin levels are often higher in pregnant women and new mums, and lower in those who aren’t pregnant. But if your levels of prolactin are too high (hyperprolactinemia), this can cause menstrual problems and make it harder to have a baby
  • estradiol (E2) – the form of oestrogen made mostly by your ovaries, which is important for keeping your reproductive system working well, including your womb, vagina and fallopian tubes. If your levels of E2 are low, it might be that you have ovarian failure, which means your ovaries aren’t working as well as they should be. Low levels of E2 can also happen after weight loss or if you have
    anorexia
    . In both cases, this can prevent pregnancy
  • testosterone – all women have different levels of this hormone, which is a type of androgen. But if your levels are high, it may indicate that you have PCOS, which can make it harder to conceive. Read more about
    how to boost your chances of getting pregnant with PCOS

How do I get the results?

Within 10 days of sending back your blood sample, you’ll receive a detailed report of all your test results and an action plan that helps you work out what your next steps might be.

If you want to go further and talk to someone about your results, you could take this report to discuss with your doctor, or book a 30 minute video consultation with one of Hertility’s private gynaecologists, for an extra £100.

I took Hertility’s blood test – here’s what happened

When to see a doctor about female infertility

At-home fertility tests can be a useful way of finding out more about your body, especially if you’re curious about your hormones and how fertile you might be.

But if you’ve been having regular, unprotected sex for more than a year (or 6 months if you’re over 35) and you haven’t got pregnant, it’s best to talk to your doctor about your options.

Trying for a baby can be stressful, especially if it isn’t going to plan, but your doctor can give you advice based on your own situation, and organise for further tests to work out exactly what’s going on.

In some cases, Healthily may benefit commercially from promoting third-party health products and/or services. Healthily is not liable for products and/or services provided by third parties.

Make sure you always read the instructions carefully before taking an at-home blood test. The price of this test was correct at the time this article was published.

Important: Our website provides useful information but is not a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor when making decisions about your health.