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
. 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
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
, 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.
Find useful information on getting pregnant with our .
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
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.
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
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
- luteinizing hormone (LH) – the hormone that controls your menstrual cycle and triggers the release of an egg from your ovaries (). 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 and low levels of T4 can reveal an . 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 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 . 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 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
At 28, I’m not thinking about having kids just yet, but I do want them in the future, so I’m curious about my fertility. I also get adult acne, and my periods have changed since coming off the pill. I decided to take Hertility’s blood test to find out more about my hormones.
The process was really quick and easy – I filled in the online questionnaire and my kit arrived 2 days later, but I had to be patient and wait for day 3 of my period before taking my finger prick blood sample. On that morning I took the test straight after waking up, and on an empty stomach.
The whole thing took no more than 5 minutes and was really easy to follow. All that was left to do was post my blood sample back to Hertility in the pre-paid envelope. Just over a week later, I received my lab report by email from one of Hertility’s gynaecologists. I was glad to see that most of my results were normal, except for 2 hormones, which were higher than average – anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) and prolactin.
The gynaecologist explained that my AMH results suggest I have a large egg reserve for someone of my age, but that high AMH can sometimes be a sign of polycystic ovaries (PCO) or PCOS. This might also explain my acne, which can be a symptom of PCOS.
If I wanted to find out more, my next steps would be to get further hormone tests for testosterone and sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), and to have a pelvic ultrasound scan.
My prolactin levels were also high. But because I haven’t noticed any worrying symptoms like headaches, milky discharge from my nipples, or any problems with my eyesight, I was told to repeat this test again in 3 months, to see if the results came back differently. The gynaecologist explained this is because prolactin levels can be affected by things like stress, the time of day you take the test and any medication you’re on.
Overall I was really impressed with Hertility’s report, which gave me a detailed summary of 7 hormones, and what each means for my fertility. I’ve even used these findings to talk to my doctor, and organised for further tests and scans off the back of it.
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.
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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.