The most popular article I’ve ever written is called 30 And Not Pregnant: How my biological clock is freaking me out. My first article published on Huffington Post was about how badly I want to give my parents a grandchild. Needless to say, I’ve got babies on the brain (not at the forefront—I mean, I very much enjoy my travel and weekends drinking—but like, that annoying little voice back there all the time when I’m trying to make decisions).
After my 30 and Not Pregnant article, I was contacted by What’s My Fertility to let me know about a new website to help women struggling with this question. To be completely honest, I ignored it at first out of fear. Who are these people? What if something is wrong with me—is that really something I want to know?
Then logic got the best of me. It’s certainly better to understand your fertility sooner rather than later—What’s My Fertility screening is available from ages 18-35, but they recommend getting screened around 24. Plus I am definitely the kind of person who wants to have all the information I can. So, I contacted WMF to talk about the screening.
What’s My Fertility screens for Premature Ovarian Aging (POA), which affects about 10% of women, by performing three blood tests: AMH (Anti-Müllerian hormone), serum FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone), and FMR1 (fragile X) (for info on these, check out What’s My Fertility FAQs). There are multiple factors that appear to contribute to POA, including autoimmunity issues and genetics (including FMR1 gene). POA has no symptoms, and many women don’t find out about it until they are already having fertility difficulties. However, armed with knowledge, early interventions can help.
The screening process is fairly simple, but there is some precision involved. If you are using hormonal birth control, you have to be off it for three months before you can take the tests (emergency contraception does not interfere with the screening), and tests must be done on the 2nd or 3rd day of your period (because FSH fluctuates throughout your cycle). If you are anything like me, this part might be tricky since I have no idea when to expect Aunt Flo unless I am on the pill (not because of irregularity, just because I have no concept of time).
So, on to the second part of my question—who are these people looking at my tests? The doctors behind What’s My Fertility are all involved with the Center for Human Reproduction in New York, a leading clinical fertility and research center. It was reassuring to me that when I was researching this topic, the name Dr. Norbert Gleicher—one of the doctors behind WFM—kept popping up as an author or research studies. Although POA affects 10% of women, he estimates that 75% of the fertility issues he sees at the Center for Human Reproduction can be attributed to POA. Many of these patients lament they wish they had known earlier, hence the founding of What’s My Fertility.
So after three months of waiting for the pill to wear off (walking around knowing that I am fertile is a REALLY WEIRD feeling), the day had come to take the actual tests. I felt like I was going to vomit—partially from nerves, partially because I was just super hungover (pro tip: do not get blood drawn after a night of drinking). I drove to a lab near my office where they stole a shit ton of blood out of my veins (seriously, it was like five vials). They took care of all the paperwork, and other than regretting some life decisions that was it. I had my results within days, much earlier than expected.
The What’s My Fertility test is $98 plus lab costs, which in my case were estimated to be $274 (What’s My Fertility covered the cost of my screening). I asked what the benefit was of using What’s My Fertility versus getting the tests through my doctor, and was told “The WMF online screening tool allows you to get screened privately and independently from a primary care physician.” Having the recommendations of world-class doctors via an online portal seemed like a big advantage to me, but you might want to check in with your doctor or OB/GYN just in case—mine had some doubts that this screening was the best indicator of fertility. What’s My Fertility does note, “There is only one true test of fertility: trying to get pregnant. There are too many potential causes of infertility to really test for all of them individually.”
But…good news, What’s My Fertility did not see any indication of fertility difficulties based on the tests they did. Woohoo! I actually had a date that night and was very excited to tell him the good news (he was probably not as thrilled as I was, since it was like our second date). Even if the What’s My Fertility screening is not the end-all, be-all indicator of fertility, it was nice to check one thing off the list—or maybe that’s just my Type A personality excited to have passed a test. If something had shown up, What’s My Fertility would help navigate the process: They can put you in touch with fertility specialists and/or help you take proactive steps to make sure you will have the opportunity to be a mother.
What’s My Fertility is available in 41 states—check whatsmyfertility.com to see a list—or can be taken through the Center for Human Reproduction.