Home Fertility Test

vitamin d

You don’t have to see the doctor to do a few basic tests to measure your fertility. There are several fertility tests you can take at home any time you feel as though you aren’t conceiving a child as quickly as you anticipated. While these tests don’t replace a thorough evaluation by a fertility specialist, they can give you an idea as to why you might not be getting pregnant.  There are home tests for both men and women.
home fertility test

The Female FSH Test

They make a home follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) test, which is designed to tell a woman whether or not she has enough ovarian reserve.  This basically measures the number of viable eggs left in a woman’s ovaries.  FSH is a protein-based hormone made by the anterior pituitary gland. The function of FSH is to stimulate the production of follicles in which the eggs mature.

The test is just like the one the doctor would do to check your ovarian reserve.  The test is taken on the third day of your menstrual cycle.  If you have many healthy follicles, the FSH level will be diminished.  If you don’t have many eggs, the FSH level will increase because the pituitary gland is trying to stimulate follicles as best it can by putting out more FSH.

Home FSH tests are done similar to at-home pregnancy tests.  You basically collect a first-morning urine specimen and put the urine in a cup.  You dip the test stick into the sample and then lay the stick flat on a countertop.  Within about 45 minutes, you can see whether you have low or high FSH levels.  Remember, there are many reasons for infertility and you can have low levels of FSH and still have problems with fertility.

The timing of the FSH test is extremely important.  It must be done on the third day of the menstrual cycle when the first day is measured as the first day of an adequate flow prior to 5 pm.  The test measures the levels of FSH in the urine.  The test will determine if you have low levels or high levels of FSH, which can affect fertility.

This test is different from the FSH test your doctor would do.  Instead of giving you an accurate number of what the FSH level is, it will help you find out the range of your FSH level and not a specific number. The test doesn’t take your age into account and, because FSH levels can be different, depending on the month, you may get a result that is unreliable.

The test also only checks the FSH level, which gives an incomplete picture of fertility.  If you went to the doctor for infertility, you would also have an antral follicle count, anti-Mullerian hormone level and an estradiol level, along with possibly some imaging techniques to determine exactly why you aren’t able to get pregnant.  The test is also not accurate if you are taking birth control pills.  You need to stop the pill for 60 days before the FSH test will have any validity.

Ovulation Prediction Testing for Women

home fertility testThese are the typical ovulation test kits you get over the counter at the drug store.  They measure the LH surge that precedes ovulation.  The test kits consist of several sticks that are immersed in urine.  After about three minutes, you will get a digital readout that determines your LH surge or will have a test that compares a surge line with a reference line.  If the surge line intensity is at least the same intensity or more intense than the reference line, it means you are having an LH surge and will be ovulating in the next day or so.

It doesn’t give an actual LH level as you would get at the doctor’s office and the “two line” test can be difficult to interpret but it is a good way of determining whether or not you are ovulating.  It doesn’t give a foolproof way of telling you that you are fertile because there can be other issues (such as fallopian tube blockage) that come into play when a woman is infertile.

It is not necessary to get a first-morning urine specimen to take the ovulation test kit but it is a good idea to take the test at the same time of the day.  There are usually at least 5-7 test sticks per package so you can test every day from early in the cycle until you ovulate. Once you get a positive LH surge test, you can stop testing and save any extra test sticks for another time if you don’t get pregnant during the current cycle.

One problem with LH surge test sticks is that, if you drink too much water, the urine may be too dilute.  In such cases, the LH surge will not be clearly detected and you will miss your chance of determining whether or not you ovulated.  You should hold off urinating for 4 hours before giving a urine specimen and should restrict fluids for a couple of hours prior to taking the test.

Another problem with the LH surge test is that, if you have irregular menstrual cycles, it can be hard to know when to begin testing.  If you have normal 28-day cycles, you can begin testing on day 9 of the cycle.  If your cycles are longer than that, you can still start testing on day 9 but you may run out of test sticks before you actually ovulate so you may need to buy extra sticks.

As the test measures your LH surge and determines your ovulation status, you should plan on having intercourse as soon as you have a positive LH surge test. This is the time when you are the most fertile and should be when you have sex if you are trying to get pregnant.

You can take the LH surge test if you are on the fertility drug, Clomid (clomiphene citrate); however, you may need more than one ovulation test kit as the timing of the ovulation can be unpredictable.  The test may not be accurate if the duration of your LH surge was less than 24 hours.  You may take the test on one day and have a negative test, then have your LH surge, and then might get a negative LH surge test the next day because your LH surge duration was too short.

The test may not be accurate in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) because these women often have long cycles.  Again, you can start testing on day 9 of the cycle but might expect not to have a detectable LH surge by the time you run out of sticks.  This adds to the cost of testing as a second test kit will have to be purchased in order to detect the LH surge.

Fertility Testing at Home for Men

sperm test

As nearly half of all infertility cases are because of male infertility, testing the man for his fertility status is a good idea. This involves doing a semen analysis that can tell if the man has enough sperm and if the sperm is of good quality.

The at home sperm testing can be done by collecting a semen sample through masturbation.  The semen sample is allowed to sit for 20 minutes before drawing up a bit of the sample into a syringe.  The sample is injected into a small well and the test will tell the individual if there are enough sperm in the sample to fertilize the egg.

The test has its limitations as it only tells the number of sperm cells.  If the sperm count is normal but all the sperm is of a poor quality or do not move well, the man can still be infertile even though the test says that there are enough sperm to conceive a child. The man should not ejaculate for 2-5 days before taking the test in order to have an accurate test.

References:

  1. At home fertility tests. http://www.parenting.com/article/at-home-fertility-tests. Accessed 5/30/16.
  2. Fertility Testing at Home. https://www.shadygrovefertility.com/blog/fertility-health/fertility-testing-at-home-should-you-take-at-home-fertility-tests//
    Accessed 5/30/16.

 

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