Since Blood and Milk launched nearly six months ago, I’ve been pretty behind the scenes. Editing articles, maintaining a content calendar, chatting with amazing women, etc. But I realized that in order to write this article, I need to more formally introduce myself. My name is Megan, I’m the managing editor of Blood and Milk, I’m 30 years old, live with my long-term boyfriend, and dream of becoming a mom in the next 3–4 years. I know I should’ve started with the things I like to do outside of work; how I practice yoga and live in San Francisco and have a daily email thread with my best friends from high school. But, the nature of this article means that we’re going to need to get a lot more personal than that, and quickly, because I’m going to tell you about the results of my at-home fertility test.
Like many career-driven women who also want families, I’ve had questions around how—and when—to pursue both. Also like many women, I’ve heard, repeatedly, how difficult it can become to naturally conceive after age 35. When I turned 30 last February, that number felt close for the first time. I wasn’t jumping at the thought of freezing my eggs, but I did want to see what information was available to me as I started to map out this major life decision.
A colleague told me about Modern Fertility, which was started by two millennial women who believed it should be easier for women to access information about both their own fertility, as well as their fertility options. At a price point the fraction of the cost of getting tested at a fertility clinic, I figured I would give it a try.
To best share how it works, I created a timeline of my experience:
My At-Home Fertility Test Timeline
- I order my test on August 7, and it arrives promptly on August 8 (Modern Fertility is based in San Francisco, where I live, so I might not expect such a quick turnaround to be the norm).
- On August 15, I get an email inviting me to “the Matriarchy,” i.e. Modern Fertility’s Slack group. There are various channels (if you’re not familiar with Slack, think of channels as group chats) for introductions, fertility questions, product questions and advice, and The Matriarchy, which has been buzzing given pre-primary current events (and, let’s be honest, the company’s target demographic).
- Because I’m not on birth control, I have to wait until the third day of my period to take my test. So, it sits in its cute little box until September 6. The instructions are clear and the kit comes with everything I need to collect two small samples of blood. I’m pretty freaked out about poking myself with a needle, so I’m relieved to find a lancet that hides its sharp point. I prick my middle finger, and then the most awkward part is holding my arm out so the blood can drip down (you aren’t supposed to squeeze or smear it) onto the test strip. I have to poke a second finger because the first is all but dried up by the time I fill up strip #1. The whole process takes about 30 minutes. I follow the instructions for sealing my test and pop it in the mail, after storing under my sink a Ziploc bag of my bloody gauze, wipes, and lancet because I don’t have biohazardous disposal in my apartment building. The Ziploc bag is still there (don’t tell my boyfriend).
The contents of my at-home fertility test from Modern Fertility
- On September 10, I get an email that Modern Fertility has received my sample, and that I should receive my results in around 10 business days.
- Here’s the only slightly negative part about my experience: I get an email on September 17 that I should receive my results the next day. I’m naturally an anxious person, but I’ve actually been very relaxed about this whole process, after the MF co-founder, Carly, informed me that there was a 0% chance I’d get an email essentially telling me I’m completely infertile (remember, your hormones are only one piece of the puzzle!). But on September 18, when I don’t receive my results, I start to panic a little. What if my results were so bad, they don’t even know what to say in an email!? I refresh my email 23821732 times and then figure I’ll see it the next day.
- On September 19, I reach out via Slack (how amazingly accessible is that?) to Eliza, MF’s head of community. She says they sent an email on 9/18, but it’s not in any of my inbox folders, so that’s the only odd little blip in the experience. Eliza then promptly sends me my results.
- Also in the September 17 email is an invitation to attend a webinar with Jill, MF’s fertility nurse. On September 19, the day I receive my results, I attend the webinar. The webinars are invite-only for women who received their results that week, which I find super impressive (if not totally scalable). There’s a text box to ask questions and Jill begins by explaining her own background and experience with infertility. Of course, it’s not as helpful and interesting as chatting 1:1 with a doctor about just my results, but it’s informative and helps me better understand the charts, levels, and acronyms in my MF dashboard.
My Modern Fertility Results
I knew Modern Fertility wasn’t a fertility crystal ball, but my results do provide insight into my AMH (anti-mullerian hormone), which essentially tells you how many eggs you may have waiting in the wings, as well as my levels of FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone), which is responsible for growing the follicles which house your eggs. The webinar with Jill was helpful in understanding these hormones and what they mean for fertility, especially if you can’t be bothered to read everything on MF’s website (which is actually super digestible, I’d just prefer to listen and take notes).
I went into testing thinking there either would be cause for alarm, or there wouldn’t be. It turns out, there isn’t, as my tests indicate that most of my levels are “within range”—meaning I “may have an average number of eggs” for my age, and that I “may hit menopause around the average age.” So, no need to scramble for an OB-GYN appointment; however, the “for your age” nags at me. Great, I’m average for a 30-year-old woman, but what does that actually mean? Is 30 a good age to have a baby? Will 33 be just as good? Or is the average number of eggs for a 30-year-old still a pretty shitty number of eggs?
Regardless, my tests didn’t sound off any immediate alarms, and I look forward to going to my next annual appointment armed with my results and ready to ask for help interpreting them in a way more specific to me and my body. Modern Fertility makes it really easy to download a PDF to share with your doctor.
A Community of Informed and Valued Women
On October 4, two weeks after I receive my results, I receive an email asking if I have any questions about my reports. It reads, “Our team is here for anything that comes up for you, from the logistical to the emotional and everything in between. If you’d like to set up a phone call with a registered nurse, just let me know and I’ll work with you to coordinate a time.”
Perhaps the best part of the Modern Fertility experience is that I actually believe that. From the “You’ve got this, Megan” website copy flashing right before I see my results, to the webinar with Jill and now, this email, I believe this company. I think they actually stand for their mission and stand behind the women they serve. So, when I do bring my reports to my next OB-GYN appointment, I will feel armed with knowledge of my health and my body. More importantly, I’ll feel like it matters.