Whether you’re trying to get pregnant, considering parenthood, or just curious about your reproductive health, fertility testing can provide useful information. Although you can see a doctor for fertility testing, there are also at-home testing options available.
While the majority of infertility evaluations require in-person exams and testing, hormone testing and semen analysis can be done from home. However, the accuracy of these tests varies. Choose a test that is supported by published studies, and confirm that the provider tests samples in a lab with high clinical standards. At-home fertility testing options through Carrot have all been vetted for quality.
Different at-home fertility tests will come with different testing panels and instructions, but here’s an overview of what you can expect. Check with individual testing providers for specifics.
Fertility tests can be purchased online or through Carrot (for members) and will include all necessary supplies.
Depending on the test, preparation may include:
- Hormone testing: Not taking contraception for one to two months and waiting until a certain day (e.g., cycle day three) of your menstrual cycle before testing. "Certain hormones can be masked by birth control pills," says Laurel Stadtmauer, MD, PhD, a reproductive endocrinologist (fertility specialist) at Carrot partner The IVF Center.
- Semen analysis: Refraining from ejaculating for a certain period of time (e.g., two to five days) before testing
Here’s what to expect once you start the test:
At-home fertility tests typically measure ovarian reserve hormones such as anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) or follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). Tests usually include all necessary shipping materials for returning your sample(s).
AMH is released by the cells that line follicles, so AMH levels are directly correlated to the number of follicles found in the ovaries. These levels decline with age. Low levels of AMH indicate a lower number of follicles and a lower ovarian reserve.
FSH is responsible for stimulating the growth of ovarian follicles and mature eggs during ovulation. Unusually high levels of FSH can be a sign of poor ovarian reserve. Low levels can indicate a problem with the pituitary gland or hypothalamus — two regions of the brain that play important roles in ovulation. It’s important to check FSH along with E2, because high levels of E2 can suppress FSH and muddle test results.
These fertility tests typically evaluate semen parameters such as semen volume, sperm concentration, motility (how well the sperm move), and morphology (size, shape, and appearance). Some at-home sperm test providers will also look at genetic health and offer to freeze and store samples. Testers provide their sample in a collection cup or vial and use the included shipping materials to return it to the provider.
Follow the instructions included with the test carefully to ensure the most accurate results.
Once the results are back, some companies will connect you with a medical professional, such as a physician, to help interpret them. In other cases, the results may be accompanied by easy-to-read explanations of the findings. Still, you may want to talk to your doctor about your results.
Are any “abnormal” results from at-home fertility tests cause for concern? “Most physicians will repeat the test to validate the results,” explains fertility specialist at Carrot Partner Innovative Fertility Joshua Berger, MD, PhD. “One bad value doesn't necessarily mean that something is off. You want to try to make sure that everything is validated before you start interventions.”
At-home fertility testing through Carrot
Carrot offers a range of options to help members learn more about their fertility:
- Female Fertility and Wellness Test: This test goes beyond basic fertility hormones to offer a more comprehensive picture of fertility health. In addition to measuring AMH, this test measures other hormones related to fertility and overall health (e.g., thyroid-stimulating hormone, or TSH), and important biomarkers (e.g., cholesterol panel) through a finger-prick blood sample. For Carrot members, learn more about this test here.
- At-home semen analysis and cryopreservation services: This test looks at five key semen health factors: semen volume, sperm count and concentration, sperm motility, and sperm morphology. Samples can also be analyzed for genetic health and/or frozen for future use. For Carrot members, learn more about this test here.
- Testing with a doctor: Carrot’s network of 3,600+ clinics can help connect you with a specialist for an in-person fertility evaluation. Sign in to your Carrot account to find a provider near you.
At Carrot, we want to make fertility care accessible and affordable to everyone. We have a number of resources to support you, from at-home fertility testing to help finding the right provider.
Already a Carrot member? Our team is available to answer any fertility questions you might have.