This year, National Infertility Awareness Week organizers have tasked its supporters to help change the conversation about infertility—to #FliptheScript, if you will.
I think the best way for modern women to flip the script on infertility is to consider gaining more knowledge about their bodies, to understand if the infertility they’re facing is temporary or permanent.
If you are struggling with infertility, you are not alone. One out of eight couples in the United States have trouble either conceiving a child or carrying to term. I am one of them. While I am infertile, I feel lucky to live in a world full of innovation in which, each passing day, scientists are developing new tools to help me self-diagnose the causes of my infertility.
Since infertility awareness week is about advocating for couples struggling with infertility, I have compiled a list of my favorite home infertility diagnostic devices. These tools are by no means meant to replace a physician, but I hope they can help steer you down the path to conception.
1. Femometer • www.bongmi.com • FREE
I have listed this first because by charting your fertility you can discover many possible sources of infertility. Fertility Awareness Based Methods (FABM) are a great resource for women seeking the causes of their infertility Charting your basal body temperature can alert you to problems with ovulation, and charting cervical mucus can alert you to conditions that can limit sperm’s ability to survive.
I have recently fallen in love with the Femometer app. This app can track everything; it is open source, and best of all it’s FREE. This means you can track not only cervical mucus texture, but also the color and smell, yes smell. It sinks with your favorite thermometer, no matter which brand. Why I really love this: my favorite feature of the app is its ability to measure any brand of ovulation test strips and it lets you know if the result is low, high or peak. This app makes tracking all your symptoms easy and enjoyable.
2. Fertility hormone analysis • www.modernfertility.com • $199
Recently a company called Modern Fertility developed diagnostic tool that accesses a woman’s “Fertility Score.” This score is a snapshot of the women’s fertility with a panel of 9 hormones measured on day 3 of the menstrual cycle. The testing includes Anti-mullerian hormone (AMH), follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), estradiol (E2), luteinizing hormone (LH), thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), free thyroxine, prolactin, free testosterone, and total testosterone. By knowing the levels of these 9 hormones, a woman can track ovarian reserve, help diagnose polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), thyroid issues, and several other red flags that can cause infertility.
Why I love this: first, the price is right, if similar testing were done at a fertility clinic it could be upwards of $500. Second, hormone levels change over time. Taking supplements or changing your diet can HUGELY impact hormone health. Therefore, monitoring these levels yearly (or longer) can let you know how lifestyle changes have impacted your fertility, either negatively or positively.
3. YO Sperm test • www.yospermtest.com • $60
One-third of infertility cases are due to problems in the male, since if his sperm can’t get to the egg, fertilization is impossible. Home sperm tests are not new, but up until now they have only able to give a simple sperm count. The new YO Sperm test allows men to use their smartphone to test their motile sperm. This is a more accurate way to access if there are enough sperm and if they are moving in the right direction.
Why I like this: 1) Cost, at $60 for 2 tests, it is cheaper than a clinical sperm test. 2) It is so cool to see the sperm swim across the field of view 3) This is a completely at home solution. My husband hates the gross collection room at the clinic, it is not pleasant and I am reminded of this frequently. 4) Sperm health can change over time as well, especially if diet or supplements change, therefore the YO sperm test can help access lifestyle changes in the male over time.
4. DotEndo • www.DotLab.com • Cost TBD
Although this is not yet available, this is going to be a game changer for so many women. Endometriosis is a cause of almost 50% of unexplained cases of infertility. The current method of diagnosing endometriosis lies in endoscopic surgery. I have had this surgery before and the week-long recovery is horrid, especially when endometriosis is not found.
This new test is a simple saliva-based home test. Say good-bye to all those unnecessary exploratory surgeries. I seriously can’t wait for this one!
5. Urine progesterone test strips • www.mfbfertility.com • $39.99
Progesterone is the hormone necessary for a woman to get and stay pregnant. If progesterone levels are too low, a woman either can’t get pregnant or has trouble carrying to term. I have personally lost 6 pregnancies due to low progesterone, which is what motivated me to found MFB Fertility to help women avoid this. These home tests allow women to monitor their progesterone levels at home after ovulation and into early pregnancy. Since 30% of early miscarriages are due to hormonal imbalances, giving women the power monitor progesterone daily will lead to early detection and hopefully prevent these types of losses.
Why I love them: At $5 per test, these are remarkably affordable for women to test every morning and make sure their levels are high enough to get pregnant and then high enough to support a pregnancy.
6. Home STD testing • www.MyLabBox.com • $79
Completely in-home STD testing for men and women is another great resource. Chlamydia and gonorrhea are the top two STDs and can cause pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility. Chlamydia also can cause fallopian tube infection, revealing that having an STD can prevent you from getting pregnant or cause a miscarriage.
Why I love this: Chlamydia and gonorrhea infections are usually silent, meaning symptom-free and these tests allow couples to test without the need of anyone else knowing because no one wants to ask for STD testing.
These tools are not necessarily going to provide the full picture of the cause of your difficulty to conceive. You may still need the assistance of a physician who understands these signs to interpret them, discuss remediation options, and conceive. However, these new devices will empower couples to be more informed, ask better questions, and guide them to better treatment options, if needed. So, this National Infertility Awareness Week, let those of us struggling with infertility become more informed and more in control of our journey.
The opinions, representations, and statements made within this guest article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Natural Womanhood.