Some women have always known that they wanted children. I am not one of these women. In my early 20s, I thought I would never want to get married or have kids. I was having too much fun bar hopping throughout the week, squandering all of my money away on traveling, and, quite frankly, doing whatever the hell else I wanted. How could I give that up to be tied down to a husband and baby?
Well, what they say is true–priorities change once you “grow up.” Who would have thought that partying all night would lose its luster after a decade? Certainly not me; “You’ll find me at Marquee (some nightclub in NYC and Las Vegas) when I’m 60,” was something that actually came out of my mouth once. But there I was, a slightly more mature 29 year old who binged Netflix murder documentaries instead of pickle back shots. Most surprising of all was my engagement to another human, which was something I didn’t expect at all. I was to be wed!
With a commitment like this comes a whole new set of priorities as well. We haven’t had our wedding yet (damn you, COVID) but I know my soon-to-be husband wants children. I can’t selfishly cater to my wants and needs exclusively anymore. And to be honest, the more I think about it, the more I want to eventually start a family with him because I know he’ll be an amazing dad. So I decided to find a compromise; I’ll have a child as late as my body is able to. To figure that out, I looked into taking a fertility test, especially since I had two surgeries in the past to remove ovarian cysts, which could have compromised my chances of getting pregnant in the future.
I first learned about Modern Fertility in a newsletter. “The only comprehensive fertility test that you can take at home,” the company promised. Customers get a customized hormone test, levels that can be shared with doctors, personalized reporting, and a one-on-one consultation with a fertility nurse. I did some light research before and knew that fertility tests at the gynecologist’s office could run upwards of $1,000 because they weren’t always covered by insurance unless a patient could prove they’ve been unsuccessful at conceiving. Having been through nightmare experiences with the American health insurance system, I didn’t want to take any risks.
The Modern Fertility test is approved for women 21-45 and evaluates your hormones in order to determine whether you have more or fewer eggs than average, what your menopause timing is, how your hormones relate to egg freezing or IVF outcomes, what your hormones say about your general health, and how your thyroid can affect fertility, among other things. There’s also peace of mind knowing that every test is evaluated by a physician too. I was particularly interested in my egg reserve, due to my previous surgeries, and decided to move forward with the home test.
When my kit came, I felt excited and nervous. Everything I needed was included in the little white box: lancets, sample collection cards, gauze, band aids, alcohol pads, sample return bags, a biohazard disposal bag, and instruction cards. One thing I wasn’t looking forward to was pricking my own fingers. I have a phobia about needles and the test required quite a bit of blood. The kit even had a separate printout with instructions on how to increase blood flow for those who have trouble collecting an adequate sample. I thought about my lovely fiancé, the huge financial savings from doing this test on my own, and the insight I’d have into my reproductive health. Finally, I mustered up the courage and pierced my finger with the lancet like the card instructed. It stung, but not nearly as much as I feared it would.
My results were comprehensive but easy to understand. I was guided through an overview of my ovarian reserve (how many eggs are left in the ovaries), ovulation health, and general wellness. The results were also accompanied by charts that compared my levels to the average levels for someone my age. Lastly, I had access to a helpful timeline that offered actionable recommendations for pregnancy planning, from testing your partner’s sperm and doing kegels 1.5-2 years before trying to conceive, to stocking up on ovulation tests and scheduling an appointment to have an IUD removed 1-6 months beforehand. Since most women start experiencing a steep drop in eggs after the age of 35 (something I also learned from the reports), I felt like I had to start developing a concrete babymaking plan soon.
So what were my results? Everything looked normal for someone my age, besides my ovarian reserve, which was slightly lower than average. While it isn’t the perfect result I hoped for, it’s also something I knew to expect following my surgeries.
It’s a relief knowing the status of my fertility hormones. Now, I have a starting point when I initiate the conversation with my doctor about pregnancy timelines. Even if my results can’t tell me the absolute latest age I should have children, I’m equipped with information that can help me make a more informed decision. For someone like me, a kid in an adult’s body trying to prolong adolescence a bit longer, this control is priceless.