- The Endo Monologues
Hertility Health Hormone & Fertility Test Review
It's been 7 months since I made the decision to have my Mirena IUD removed so that my other half and I could start our journey to try and conceive and if I'm honest, it's been a pretty turbulent 7 months and I've made no secret that my body is struggling post birth-control. For reference, I have been on back to back birth control for 16 years, ten years on various combined contraceptive pills and 6 years using the Mirena IUD. The latter was monumental in managing my endometriosis and adenomyosis; I didn't have a period at all during that time and my pain was significantly reduced but...
I've now only had one period since October and that was back in December, so I'm now 5 months sans period. If you've been following my journey via Patricia on my Instagram, you'll know that I spoke to my doctor at the beginning of March hoping for answers and was bounced around to ultimately be told I needed to wait 6 months before they could do anything. There was a brief mention of testing to see if I'd ovulated but that was pointless as I hadn't had my period so there was no telling where I was in my cycle but that was it.
I tried to argue what could they test at 6 months that they couldn't test at 4 but I was met with silence and a half-hearted mention of them contacting my gynae to seek their advice of TTC with endo. I was then given the usual speal that it takes your body time to settle following coming off birth-control but once again I argued that I was told that my fertility should return to normal as soon as my IUD was removed, so who was telling the truth?
And what the hell is going on in my body? I don't want to wait for my body to settle, I want to get pregnant.
The awful thing is that being in the UK, you have to actively have been trying to conceive for a year before the NHS will refer you to a fertility specialist. So even if you wanted to know what was going on with your reproductive health fertility wise, you get turned away. Which for someone with reproductive health conditions, is incredibly concerning because what if something is seriously wrong and I've been made to wait a year to find out? It just seems backwards to me. I've heard of individuals with reproductive conditions having to lie to get through this process quicker just to be told what's going on with their body but when the doctors can see when I had my Mirena out, this isn't an option.
All in all, I felt like I was in a weird limbo surrounding my own body so I started to look into what I could do at home to find out more about my gynaecological situation.
Enter Hertility Health.
After putting the question of what I could do out to my followers, so many of you suggested looking at Hertility Health. One thing led to another and after having a chat about my circumstances, they kindly gifted me what they referred to as the full Hertility Journey which involved an online health assessment, personalised hormone blood test and comprehensive report from a private gynaecologist.
For ease, I will break this review down into these separate components before giving my overall opinion at the end but before I start that I feel it's important to tell you a little more about the company and what they stand for. So, without further ado...
Who are Hertility Health?
In a nutshell, Hertility Health is a company focused on giving individuals the opportunity and ownership to find out more about their reproductive health. It was founded by three female scientists who were frustrated at the lack of support for reproductive health and decided to do something about it. Driven by the fact that women are often forced to decide between their career or a family, they felt that women lacked the opportunities and support to find out about their own reproductive health (reinforced by the lack of research into women's health in general) and decided to do something about it.
As a result they developed their reproductive hormone and fertility test, including a at home testing kit, personalised report and the option of a follow up consultation, ultimately giving individuals the opportunity to get in insight into their reproductive health.
Step 1: The Free Initial Consultation
First things first, Hertility's website is super easy to navigate and doesn't overcomplicate things. The process starts by filling in a short, five minute online consultation which explores what your current reproductive aims are as well as finding out about you and your situation. This includes the usual run of the mill questions regarding your health (age, weight, etc.) as well as more tailored questions about your menstrual cycle and your lifestyle. Pretty straight forward! Based on my answers and the fact that I'm actively trying to conceive, the algorithm recommended testing for Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), Free Thyroxine (FT4), Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH), Luteinising Hormone (LH), Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Estradiol (E2).
Now, when I first had this come through I was like, what on Earth do all these mean and I could go away and research it in depth but actually Hertility made it super clear so I'll just pinch theirs.
TSH and T4 helps to screen for an overactive or underactive thyroid, which can impact your general health and ovulation.
AMH is released by the follicles which house your eggs so it’s a useful indicator of your ‘ovarian reserve.’ It can also help indicate PCOS.
LH is vital for a healthy menstrual cycle, it triggers ovulation and can signpost reproductive health conditions.
FSH is vital for a healthy menstrual cycle, helps us understand ovarian function and can signpost reproductive health conditions.
E2 is vital for a healthy menstrual cycle and can signpost reproductive health conditions.
My only niggle here is that it didn't give me the option to state that I have hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid). I'm tested regularly to make sure everything is as it should be with my thyroid, so it seemed like a slightly redundant test for me. However, it is very useful if you've not had this tested before due to the impact it can have on your fertility.
Phew! With that all submitted and my recommended test ordered, it took 48 hours for the test itself to arrive through my letterbox.
Step 2: The Test
When I received my kit from Hertility they had just revamped their entire image, so rather than uploading my own photographs I'm using theirs as it features their new branding. As you can see in the image below, it comes neatly boxed with 5 lancets, plasters, alcohol wipes, lab labels, sterile cotton pads, collection vial, protective sleeve, return envelope (with postage included) and detailed instructions.
The test itself is very easy to use and the instructions clearly identify what is needed to successfully collect your blood sample. I would highly recommend laying everything out in the order you need them because if you're anything like me, you'll need to be mindful of not getting blood droplets everywhere (turns out I bleed quickly from a lancet prick!). I would also wait to stick the labels on the vial, just in case of any spillages! You also need to make sure you get your sample in the post the same day you collect it to make sure it's viable.
Once set up, I plucked up the courage to prick my index finger on my non-dominant hand and then squeezed my blood droplets into the vial. There are two lines indicated on it, you need to fill it up to the second one to ensure the lab has enough to test. At this point, the postman rang my doorbell so I had to abandon ship for a moment. This resulted in me needing to pick a second finger but as aforementioned, the kit includes five lancets for your convenience. I highly stress the need to make sure you are well hydrated and have warm hands, if I hadn't have done this, I don't think the blood would have flowed so easily. For someone who has never done this sort of test before, I found it very straight forward. The worst bit was gearing myself up to prick my finger.
Sample collected, I then wrote my details onto the labels as per the instructions and then placed everything back into the prepaid envelope (including all the lancets, used and unused so they can safely be disposed of!). I popped it in the post on a Friday morning and I received an email confirmation the following Monday that the lab had received it. All I had to do was wait.
Step 3: Comprehensive Report & Action Plan
Hertility states that your results with be analysed and an action plan/report will be created within 10 days of receiving your sample. The email signalling this actually happened in 7 working days which was a pleasant surprise and I immediately logged in to find out what my results showed. For reference, Hertility compare your results against the typical hormone levels of a female the same age and provide some information on what factors can influence your results which was helpful to know and you can download your lab report which details the exact findings from your sample.
Unsurprisingly, my TSH and T4 (thyroid hormones) came back as normal but it was a nice reassurance.
My AMH came back as high, which represents that I have a large egg reserve. The report explained that this could be positive but could also be an indicator of having Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and could be a potential reason as to why I've not been having a period. My FSH and LH levels also came back as high, which in combination with the high AMH further suggests I could have PCOS.
My report then went on to give recommendations based on my initial consultation and suggested I book a number of blood tests with my GP and get referred for an ultrasound to see if I do have PCOS as well as vitamin/supplement recommendations as I'm TTC.
Now, I have suspected I could have post-pill (or post birth control) PCOS for sometime but when my doctor dismissed me, I somewhat pushed it to the back of my mind. In a sense I was relieved by my results that something was indeed wrong and potentially the cause of my menstrual/fertility issues but at the same time I felt the report was vague. As someone who talks about her reproductive health on a daily basis, I'm pretty confident in understanding and processing medical information about myself. However, I do feel that someone who is exploring this for the first time could feel slightly overwhelmed with this information, especially with the mention of a condition such as PCOS.
Yet, Hertility do offer virtual (or clinic based) results consultations which I highly suggest doing. When I was offered the opportunity to review this, I took the opportunity to prebook an appointment for myself.
Step 4: Virtual Results Consultation
The interface to make an appointment is really straight forward and I was able to book an appointment with one of Hertility's doctors for the next evening. There was loads of flexibility on timings and you can also choose who you book with - all the staff are listed on the staff index so you can also put a name to a face which is nice.
My appointment itself was absolutely brilliant. I have never felt so heard and listened to by a medical professional. My doctor went through my medical history in detail which allowed me to fill in any gaps before going through my results in a way that was easy to understand and process. Each individual lab result was clarified and then I was given an explanation as to what this meant for my reproductive health and my trying to conceive journey. Through this I then understood that I could potentially have Polycystic Ovaries (PCO) or PCOS or my uterus has become progesterone dependant as a result of my time using the Mirena IUD. At no point did I feel overwhelmed and all my questions/concerns were addressed in a kind but thorough manner.
My consult ended with a plan to move forward and made me feel strangely positive despite another reproductive condition now being flagged up. For me, this was the most useful thing. I now had a battle plan to go to my doctor with which included getting a referral for an ultrasound/specific blood tests to diagnose or rule out PCO/PCOS and knowing that I was within my rights to ask to be referred to a fertility specialist as I have been TTC with a reproductive issue and am currently not having periods. The best part was all of this was written up within the space of an hour in an official clinician's letter so I had black and white proof to present my GP with.
Which is exactly what I did.
By the following afternoon I had an appointment with my GP where I laid it all out, was immediately referred for an ultrasound (I'm still waiting for this to come through) and was told to forward all of the Hertility info so they could look into what else needed to be done. Hertility do offer all of this to be done in-house for a fee but I decided to take my chances with the NHS. If these results come back ruling out PCO/PCOS, I know what I need to go back and demand as a next step.
I can't stress enough how thankful I am to have Hertility reach out to me because I finally feel like I'm on the way to getting answers about what the hell is going on in my body. If you're in a similar situation or generally just want to find out what's going on with your reproductive health, please give Hertility's Health & Hormone Testing a look. More often than not, queries about our reproductive health are ignored or a lack of research/understanding means things get overlooked or blamed on the wrong thing. Hertility have provided an opportunity to cut through the bullshit and take ownership of our fertility/reproductive health.
If you have any doubts or questions about your reproductive health, this is genuinely a great option, especially when doctors make it so difficult.
Hertility Health's Reproductive Hormone Blood Test is £149, a virtual consultation is £100 and a clinic consultation is £150.
You can check out their website here and/or follow them on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.
*This post contains PR samples/gifted items, for my PR disclaimer click here.