Can At-Home Tests Predict Fertility?

A new startup company, developed by former Uber and 23AndMe executives, is offering at-home fertility testing for women.  The company, Modern Fertility, has the goal of offering a low-cost alternative for fertility testing compared to testing through a standard laboratory.  Their test costs $149 and measures up to 10 fertility hormones via finger-prick blood samples.

According to their website, the Modern Fertility tests are available for pre-order now and will be shipped later in the year.  Each kit contains a blood collection card where 4 drops of blood are placed from a finger-prick. The blood collection card is then sent to a laboratory, where hormones such as AMH, FSH, and estradiol are measured for ovarian reserve testing.  The test also includes progesterone, prolactin, testosterone, and thyroid function screening.   Results are reviewed by a physician and provided to the patient within 5 business days. The report that the patient receives includes an explanation of the results and provides a “fertility score” to show her how her results compare to other women of the same age.

While it’s great to see the cost of fertility testing become more affordable for women, I can envision how these types of tests may end up causing a lot of anxiety for women.  Hormone levels should be interpreted on a case by case basis and should take a woman’s entire medical history into account.  In addition, this test is looking at egg quantity, but not quality.  Ovarian reserve and fertility are NOT the same.  For instance, a woman in her 20s may end up with a lot of anxiety over low ovarian reserve numbers, but these numbers do not necessarily mean that she can not conceive.  On the flip side, a woman in her 40s may get false reassurance if her ovarian reserve testing is above average. Good ovarian reserve numbers may give her the idea that she can further delay child-bearing, but this may not be the case.

I would urge anyone who does this type of at-home testing to always review the results with their physician.  The “fertility score” that you’re given may not tell the whole story.  Fertility is complicated and hormone testing should be interpreted with the patient’s whole story in mind.

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