What Can an At-Home Fertility Test Tell You?
Photo courtesy of Jamie Street
What Can an At-Home Fertility Test Tell You?
“I’ve been a practicing reproductive endocrinologist for over 15 years, and I’ve observed a lot of advances in infertility treatment, like egg freezing, in vitro fertilization, and ovulation induction,” says reproductive endocrinologist Kristin Bendikson, MD. “I noticed that even though these fertility treatment options were empowering, they often required additional wellness support.”
Now Bendikson is the director of clinical development at Kindbody, a holistic fertility clinic that provides a full complement of reproductive health care options. Below, Bendikson shares her approach to treatment, along with a breakdown of the seven hormones Kindbody measures with its at-home fertility test.
A Q&A with Kristin Bendikson, MD
You don’t know what you don’t know—it’s best not to make assumptions. And it’s never too early or too late to think about the health of your body.
About one in eight couples is going to need help with their fertility, and the chances increase as you get older. Nearly half of women are planning to wait until they’re over the age of 35 to have children, and it’s estimated that about a third of them will need reproductive assistance to conceive. While this information may not be easy to hear, knowing can give people the opportunity to make the best decisions for the future of their fertility.
I’ve been a practicing reproductive endocrinologist for over 15 years, and I’ve observed a lot of advances in infertility treatment, like egg freezing, in vitro fertilization, and ovulation induction. I noticed that even though these fertility treatment options were empowering, they often required additional wellness support. For example, the treatments triggered anxiety for some people, so they needed mental wellness support. Or other people required the help of a nutritionist.
Yet the typical medical clinic is not created to address these concerns. They often don’t have other providers, like a psychologist, an acupuncturist, or a nutritionist, to refer clients to conveniently. This can leave many people searching for wellness support without guidance, and it can take lots of time to find the right match and even longer if they don’t know where to start. Some people become so overwhelmed that they’re unable to seek the extra support that’s best for them.
Kindbody was created to provide a holistic approach to health care that is empowering for each person. We have a holistic team that guides clients through their personal health journey to ensure they get the support they need. It provides full-service women’s reproductive care that extends beyond fertility. We have different types of providers—gynecologists, nurse practitioners, fertility specialists, acupuncturists, and yoga instructors.
Our at-home fertility test measures seven hormones that are important for reproductive function. Together, these hormones give us a comprehensive view of someone’s reproductive health and help to identify things that could potentially affect their fertility, like how many eggs they have remaining (their ovarian reserves), their chances of going to early menopause, or their sperm production.
Anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) is a hormone produced by ovarian follicles. It’s an indicator of ovarian reserves and tells us how well a woman may respond to hormone treatment for egg freezing or IVF.
Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) is the primary hormone that nurtures the growth of a follicle in the ovary so an egg can be released. Like AMH, FSH is a marker of ovarian reserve and indicates how hard the body is working to make a follicle grow.
Luteinizing hormone (LH) helps trigger the release of an egg. Its levels tell us the regularity of the menstrual cycle. If a woman has a hormonal imbalance, LH levels are likely to be abnormally elevated.
Estradiol is the main female sex hormone. It helps us interpret FSH levels. Abnormal estradiol levels can indicate a low ovarian reserve or a hormonal imbalance.
Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) stimulates the production of thyroxine, the thyroid hormone. Its levels tell us how well the thyroid gland is working. Normal thyroid function is important for a healthy pregnancy.
Thyroxine is the thyroid hormone, which also indicates how well the thyroid is functioning.
Prolactin is a hormone that helps promote the production of breast milk, and it impacts the function of other reproductive hormones.
For males the test is similar, with one difference—instead of testing AMH, we measure testosterone, which is the major male sex hormone and is essential to the male reproductive system and sexual health. It plays an important role in sperm production and libido.
It’s a common misconception that infertility is a female concern. In about 50 percent of couples that are confronting infertility, male infertility plays a role. In about 20 to 30 percent of couples, male infertility will be the primary component. So it’s important for males to be included in the couple’s entire fertility journey.
We offer an array of fertility services for individuals and couples. Some people want lots of education. They want to understand how reproduction works, what they need to know about their bodies, and how to optimize their health for future fertility. Others are interested in preserving their fertility—egg freezing or embryo freezing, for example. We also help people who are having difficulty conceiving, need a sperm or egg donor, or are seeking a surrogate.
For people who want to speak to a provider one-on-one to see what services are best for them, they can start with an at-home fertility test or book an appointment to visit a clinic. When scheduling an appointment, we match your fertility needs with the right provider. For someone who is not ready to speak to a health care provider or visit a clinic, they can start the process with an at-home fertility test, review their results online, and follow up with a Kindbody provider at any time.
Kristin Bendikson, MD, is a board-certified reproductive endocrinologist and the director of clinical development at Kindbody, a leading fertility and family-building care company. Bendikson practiced at USC Fertility and was an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology in the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at the USC Keck School of Medicine and served as the associate fellowship director. There she founded the USC Center for Pregnancy Loss and the USC Fertility Diagnostic Testing program, which helps young adults better understand their reproductive potential to help them make educated choices for their future.
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians or medical practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of goop.
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