If you or your partner are concerned about fertility, but not yet ready to schedule an appointment with a fertility specialist, it might be worth taking a look at over the counter fertility tests. There are now kits available to test both male and female fertility, although some doctors warn women against letting fertility tests lull them into a false sense of security when it comes to how much time they have left before they need to start planning their families.
Female Fertility Tests
Most women already know about home pregnancy tests, but there are also over the counter fertility tests they can take to help them determine when they are ovulating and how long their remaining stock of eggs may last. The ovulation test is called the LH urine test, and it measures spikes in luteinizing hormone, the chemical that signals the ovaries to release an egg. A positive test result indicates a woman will ovulate within the next 24 to 36 hours. The test to determine how many viable eggs a woman has remaining, called an ovarian reserve test, is also a urine based home hormone test. Doctors warn that even a good test result may be misleading, because the test doesn't reveal egg quality, possible fallopian tube issues, or any of the other factors that can seriously impact a woman's fertility.
Male Fertility Tests
The first over the counter male fertility tests were geared toward measuring the number of live sperm in each test sample, but they didn't measure sperm motility. More sophisticated tests now require the sperm to navigate a chemical barrier developed to mimic the female cervix. The test then measures how many of the sperm are still viable after successfully passing through the chemical barrier. More than 10 million active sperm per milliliter is considered a positive test result, and the test is 95 percent accurate.
When It's Time to See a Doctor
While medical professionals welcome these home testing techniques, especially considering the number of people who express embarrassment at the idea of having to see a fertility specialist, they do stress that if both partners have had good home test results but conception still hasn't occurred after a year of regular unprotected sex, it's time for the couple to see a fertility specialist to determine if there are issues at play that the home kits can't test for.