Written by: Dr. Amy Beckley, PhD, Founder and Inventor of the Proov test — the first and only FDA-cleared test to check for successful ovulation at home.
Written on: 7/1/22
While getting a clear “measurement” of your fertility can be difficult — after all, there are plenty of factors that play into your overall fertility — there are plenty of ways to get a better idea of where you stand.
At-home fertility hormone testing is a great, inexpensive place to start! Keep reading to learn more.
First things first: why is understanding your fertility important?
We know this may be a cliché, but we truly believe knowledge is power. Knowing information about your body so that you can make changes if needed, in our opinion, is better than knowing nothing at all.
If you are thinking of having kids or are actively trying to get pregnant, having knowledge about your body and fertility is critical to your success! A little extra knowledge goes a long way when it comes to making decisions about your family planning.
The unfortunate truth is that infertility can impact anyone’s life, regardless of age and health status, without so much as a warning sign. While we’re taught a lot in school about how to not get pregnant, we may find ourselves not totally prepared for the best way to go about getting pregnant when we’re ready.
The good news is that understanding your fertility has never been easier! Comprehensive, at-home fertility testing can give you loads of information and help you reach your goals faster.
So, is there an easy way for a woman to measure her fertility?
The short answer is yes! There are plenty of easy, accessible ways to learn more about your fertility.
First and foremost, if you have any specific questions about your fertility or health, we always recommend consulting your doctor. They will have a better understanding of your unique medical history to make the most informed recommendations possible.
That said, a little extra information about the ways you can learn about your fertility can help you better advocate during conversations with your doctor. Fertility testing is important so that you are able to know where you stand, your fertility hormone levels, and potentially raise any red flags you need to be aware of.
Traditionally, fertility testing is done in a lab, prescribed by a doctor. The most common lab fertility test is often referred to as the “cycle day 3 blood test,” since your doctor will draw your blood three days after the start of your period (i.e. the start of your cycle).
These tests measure follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), estrogen, and progesterone, and establish your “baseline” hormone levels — i.e. what your levels look like at the point in your cycle when they all should be low.
But what can cycle day 3 tests tell you? Lots!
For example, elevated FSH levels may be a sign of a lower ovarian reserve, indicating you have less eggs left on your ovaries. Other imbalances detected by this test may be a sign of an ovarian cyst or polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
Another test usually used to assess ovarian reserve is an anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) test, a hormone that reflects the amount of eggs you have left in your ovaries. Often this test is reserved as a way to understand how well you would respond to fertility treatments and medications.
If you are interested in any lab blood testing, we recommend consulting your doctor.
More recently, scientists have discovered the main sex hormones we measure in blood eventually pass through our body and get excreted in urine. This is how the home tests were invented — to offer a non-invasive, less expensive, and more convenient way for women to test their hormones.
At-home hormone tests offer a non-invasive, less expensive, and more convenient way for women to test their hormones.
What information can I learn about my fertility from home?
These previously mentioned hormones can be measured from home, in urine: FSH, LH, estrogen, and progesterone. Even testing just these 4 hormones from home can provide loads of information about your fertility and hormones!
FSH needs to be measured at the beginning of your cycle, ideally over a few days to establish a pattern, to provide meaningful insight into your ovarian reserve. Elevated FSH levels may be a sign of having less eggs left, which gives insight into your reproductive timeline so you can make a plan.
Estrogen is usually measured together with LH or progesterone, as they are interconnected.
Together, estrogen and LH control the processes leading up to ovulation. Measuring both hormones provides even more insight into whether or not your body is gearing up for ovulation.
Understanding when you ovulate is key to knowing when to “try” for a baby. In fact, one of the main causes of infertility in otherwise healthy couples is mistiming intercourse.
Additionally, measuring estrogen and progesterone together can give insight into your overall hormone balance, as these two hormones control the 2 main phases of your cycle.
A sharp increase in LH — also called a surge — signals that ovulation should occur soon, within 12-36 hours to be exact! While understanding your estrogen levels should mean you can “try” before an LH surge, knowing when you surge is key to knowing when you should ovulate.
Some women may see elevated LH levels throughout their cycle, which can be a sign of PCOS. If you get many positive LH tests or suspect you have elevated LH, we recommend consulting your doctor.
Contrary to popular belief, an LH surge does not actually indicate whether or not an egg was released during ovulation. That’s where progesterone comes in!
An increase in progesterone after an increase in LH confirms ovulation. This is because progesterone is only released after ovulation occurs.
You can check your progesterone via a lab blood test to confirm ovulation. However, to allow for the best possible chance at pregnancy, progesterone needs to remain elevated throughout days 7-10 after an LH surge.
Luckily, you test the urine marker of progesterone — PdG — to confirm ovulation and understand if your levels remain elevated when they should be! This can help you understand 1. If you ovulated and 2. If your ovulation was successful, meaning PdG levels remained elevated for long enough to allow for a healthy cycle and best possible chance at pregnancy.
How can I test all these hormones?
We’ve got you covered! Proov Complete measures all 4 key cycle hormones straight from home.
With Complete you will have a full picture of your cycle, whether you are trying to conceive right now or simply want to be prepared for the future.
The more information you have about your hormones, the better you can measure and understand your fertility!