What in the world is Fertility Testing?

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Hormones are your fertility detectives

Ever wondered, “How the heck does my body know to get its period or release an egg into my fallopian tube during ovulation?” It’s not magic — it’s hormones. Hormones are chemical messengers in the body that are responsible for regulating its functions, including your monthly cycle and reproductive abilities. For example, luteinizing hormone (LH) causes an egg to be released from an ovarian follicle (where the eggs are housed) and into the fallopian tube. In other words, LH triggers ovulation. If your LH levels are low, it may be difficult to ovulate. If an egg doesn’t get released, there’s less of a chance it will meet and get fertilized by a sperm. Hence, spontaneous conception could be tough.

Modern Fertility offers a fertility testing kit that can be completed in the comfort of your home. All it takes is a simple finger prick to get access to the same physician-approved reports that break down up to nine fertility hormone levels. These are the exact same hormone tests you’d get from a clinic. The reports, which are presented in a user-friendly dashboard and written in a straightforward, non-medical way, also provide you with an age-specific interpretation of each hormone level and how this relates to fertility. If you have questions or need support, a licensed fertility nurse is just a call or email away.

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Taking a step back, let’s dig into the relationship between hormones and fertility. Why is getting them tested and tracking them over time relevant?

Here’s another example: Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) is responsible for developing a number of ovarian follicles (which house your eggs) and ultimately maturing a single follicle and egg for ovulation during each monthly cycle. If your FSH levels are high, it may be a sign that your body is having to work extra hard to develop follicles and mature an egg. This can be a sign that your ovarian reserve (that term for the number of eggs left in your ovaries) is low.

One more for you: Did you know anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) is an even better predictor of ovarian reserve than both FSH and actually counting the number of eggs remaining in your ovaries via ultrasound? (The latter is known as an antral follicle count or AFC.) Getting this hormone tested, perhaps along with LH and FSH and pursuing an AFC, is a helpful biomarker for seeing an even clearer fertility picture.

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To maximize fertility, it’s helpful for certain hormones to be at optimal levels to keep your cycle and ovaries working as they should. This is why hormone testing is a critical part of fertility testing, regardless of whether you’re trying to conceive or not. But as we mentioned, fertility declines with age. Keeping a close eye on your hormone levels — the same way you would track your savings or cholesterol — lets you keep tabs on your fertility, perhaps alerting you to a red flag or giving you some peace of mind. This is why hormone testing is an ideal first step for those who aren’t ready to start a family but want one down the road.

Hormone testing is one method of fertility testing

It’s important to call out the other types of tests that shed light on your ability to naturally conceive.  After an initial consultation (which costs money — more on this in a bit), a fertility clinic will usually administer a physical exam, which might include a gynecological exam and an ultrasound. These can be used to determine your AFC and help detect physical barriers to fertility, like polycystic ovaries, large ovarian cysts, uterine shape and the thickness of its lining, or blocked fallopian tubes.

At the clinic, completing questionnaires and having conversations about your health history, lifestyle, and cycle can also reveal underlying fertility issues, like smoking, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), endometriosis and other diseases, or amenorrhea (an absence of a period).

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These clinics also recommend and perform the exact same hormone testing that Modern Fertility offers, but at a much steeper price. We called eight clinics in the San Francisco Bay area to understand how much hormone testing costs. Across the clinics, the initial consultation ranged from $225 to $1050. The cost of blood work ranged from about $800 to $1500, but this can depend on how many hormones are tested, if the clinic relies on a third party lab for testing, and how many tests the doctor recommends or requests. Assuming insurance or your employer doesn’t cover fertility testing, these are out-of-pocket costs.

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Meet Afton + Carly! They are changing the future of fertility testing.

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Carly and I set out to create a solution and empower women by building the company we wanted our friends, co-workers, and future daughters to use. Last year, we announced Modern Fertility: the first comprehensive hormone test you can take at home to get information about your fertility. The test includes data on your ovarian reserve, how your levels could affect egg freezing or IVF, menopause timing, and red flags you need to know about.

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Check out their BLOG for tons of great articles, interviews and info about fertility health + wellness!

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Curious what your fertility score might be?!

TRY IT OUT FOR FREE!

 

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We are proud that Modern Fertility is pushing fertility research forward, but we also know that research takes time, and women need more tools now. We hope to one day have a predictor of fertility––a crystal ball that can help us see and plan for the future. But until that day comes, women will arm themselves with data, and make the calls.

“All of this data is based on averages (and we are sure to make it clear—no woman is average!) but it serves as a (free), grounding foundation for understanding how fertility changes with age and hormone levels.”

– Afton Vechery, CEO and Co-founder, Modern Fertility

Celmatix Advocate Spotlight: Chiemi Rajamahendran, founder of Miss.Conception Coach

How one woman turned her passion for providing emotional support into a thriving community for women trying to conceive.

While the love and support of friends and family members is crucial when you’re trying to conceive (TTC), there’s a special compassion and understanding that comes from speaking with women who are going through similar experiences. Chiemi Rajamahendran found herself facilitating groups and online programs within the TTC community, which aimed to provide love, support, and guidance to women fighting infertility.

In today’s Advocate Spotlight, we talk with Chiemi about how she turned her passion for providing TTC women with support and guidance into the thriving online community now called Miss.Conception Coach.

 


 

Celmatix: Tell us a little about what led you to found Miss.Conception Coach.

Chiemi: It was really something that came about after my own personal experience  navigating those tough emotions. I witnessed the lack of emotional support for women specifically going through loss and started my own support site at a grass roots level that centered around real-time interaction when women need it most. If someone is having a miscarriage or just learned their fertility treatment was unsuccessful and they are sitting in their car or on their bathroom floor crying, they need to connect with someone immediately… not a week from now. Just having a single outlet like that is so important.

Celmatix: How does your background in psychiatric nursing help you when speaking with women who are experiencing infertility?

Chiemi: A professor once said to me, “You have to meet everyone where they are, not where you think they should be.” That has always stuck with me and is something that I think we need to remind ourselves on a daily basis. You have to meet your emotions where they are today, right now. Let’s sit in the fear, pain, sadness together. No one should feel rushed out of those emotions.

Celmatix: Since you founded Miss.Conception in 2014, have you seen any changes in the way women are talking about infertility?

Chiemi: Yes, absolutely! Women in our community share that they don’t feel alone anymore and that their emotions are validated. Social media has enabled someone who might have felt totally alone to now feel like part of a support system, with a sense that others are always there. There’s nothing I love more than getting feedback from pieces I write and share. When someone tells you the community is what keeps them hopeful and stops them from giving up… there are no words.

Our private Facebook groups are also a wonderful place for this sort of support and sharing. They are made up of women supporting other women going through the same thing and experiencing similar emotions and fears. To be able to just share anytime and know someone you trust and who truly cares about you is there is priceless and life-changing.

I like to keep these groups small in size because I want everyone involved to get to know each other and hear each other’s stories. When groups get too large, that intimacy and feeling of authentic connection can get lost, and when women are sharing such intimate details it’s crucial to maintain that trust.

Sometimes it’s hard to balance wanting to take in new members and keeping it a tight-knit group. It’s not about numbers, it’s about creating a safe, healing, supportive connection. We’ve even created a new group called “Bump To Bottles” for women who have successfully conceived and would like to continue to connect with others they’ve met in the Facebook group.

Celmatix: Your social media platforms look different than other fertility advocates’ in that you usually post deeply personal and inspirational stories. What inspired you to take this approach?

Chiemi: Sometimes people assume that sharing raw, intimate, and personal stories will be upsetting to others, but I see it as the opposite. By sharing these stories, other women are able to read them and say, “been there too.” Inspiration can come from rock bottom experiences and true inspiration comes from witnessing the strength and courage it takes to move forward and through those emotions. Sharing these emotions it validates them for others. By validating them, you help take away someone’s shame.

Celmatix: What goals do you have for women who find your site?

Chiemi: I hope that they feel like they’ve finally found a safe home to share their emotions and that they are reminded that they are doing ‘enough.’ I hope the stories on the site remind them that they need support during this time of their life more than ever, and that this fight they are fighting daily demands respect and empathy from family and friends.

When women are pregnant, people rally around them, and then after they have the baby everyone wants to help and checks in with them. I want this site to give the same level of understanding and support to women with infertility who are fighting desperately to become mothers.

Celmatix: What other social media accounts or sites do you recommend for women who are looking to become part of a community?

Chiemi: For anyone recently diagnosed with infertility, I’d strongly recommend RESOLVE and to ultimately really trust your doctor and build a strong relationship with your team of medical experts. Also advocate for yourself the best you can!


As an extension of Miss.Conception Coach, Chiemi recently launched a line of all natural body care products specifically designed for women who are trying to conceive called Bloom Essentials.

You can learn more about Miss.Conception Coach on their site and join the conversation by following @MissConceptionCoach on Instagram.

To the woman still grieving after her transfer…

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We have words for the loss of a pregnancy, such as miscarriage, blighted ovum, missed miscarriage, chemical pregnancy, stillborn…1,2,3rd trimester terms. Full of imposed technicalities which leaves it feeling clinical. These labels feel cold and detached. Loss is loss. Pain is pain. Grieving the death of a life that was growing inside of you, made from you, at any stage is…there are no words. None.

We don’t have a word for when someone goes through fertility treatment like IVF or IUI and it ‘fails’. The loss of that ‘Emby Baby’ is just as real and painful and devastating. The added stress of these treatment plans, injections, procedures and on top of that, the monetary pressure, is unfathomable. It’s an added level of commitment most can’t even comprehend. The love you have is instant, from the moment your Emby Baby is placed inside of you.

But, how do you grieve when your baby stops growing? What do you do with the pain of your hopes and dreams slipping away? The pain of allowing yourself to be vulnerable again. The pain of promising yourself you wouldn’t get invested so early, but did, because how could you not? You sit in shock and defeat, ready to give up, not because you want to, but because you can’t fathom disappointment on this level – again. Can we as a society even start to understand what that must feel like? The truth is we can’t. Unless you have been there, you just can’t.

So let us honour these couples instead. Let’s honour them during ‘Miscarriage And Infant Loss Awareness Month.’

Where does support and healing come from, to get through this type of loss? Maybe half of the people in your life don’t even know what you have endured. Most won’t truly understand and others, well you don’t want to share such personal feeling with. So you smile through your pain, and pretend you are ok, because what choice do you have?

One day mamma, I want you to know we see your loss. We validate your feelings. You have the right to mourn your baby. It’s not just a ‘failed cycle’. It doesn’t matter if science helped create that growing life. It was your baby and I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m so sorry you had to endure all of that and are left with empty arms.

But you belong in this camp of women who lost their baby. Because being a grieving mother is never about technicalities or comparisons. There is place for all of us here. You have a community that get’s it, where you never have to hide or feel rushed out of your emotions. Let us come together to validate and dignify these deeply personal, life changing experiences. By doing this we can help each other heal. That truly is the reason for and meaning of an awareness month.

 


Getting support and being part of a community that just get’s it, is the single most important thing you can do!

With our Mindful Fertility program, Pre-Conception Diet Makeover and private groups, we help inspire, support and connect sisters daily, from pre-conception to post baby.  We just launched our new all natural, organic fertility body care line called Bloom Essentials! Our community of support is the perfect accompaniment to fertility treatments and procedures you might be going through. Our sisterhood of support and guidance is tailored to those experiencing stress and anxiety related to infertility and related procedures such as IUI/IVF.

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What happens when we are constantly being told not to feel, how we are feeling?

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Is it really so bad to let ourselves feel these hard emotions sometimes. Heck No!

Are we constantly being told not to? Yes!

Does it help to be contradicted emotionally by others and by ourselves? No! (It makes it worse actually.)

So, do you know what happens when we are constantly being told not to feel how we are feeling? We get anxiety and stress. Why? Because our heart is wanting to feel one way, but our mind keeps telling it to feel the opposite. So, they start a tug of war. This makes you feel like something is off. (Anxiety) And this tug of war makes you worry that these emotions are stronger than you. (Stress)

What would it feel like, if when you felt ugly, weak and unworthy, you let yourself look deeper into that. Instead of pushing those feelings away…

What if you listened, instead of denying. What if you realized they are only feelings not the truth? What if we didn’t have to feel these real emotions with such shame?

We would start to actually give ourselves a small pep talk. We would naturally start to listen to our own voice.

Scenario feelings:
Ugh I feel so fat and ugly today.  I’m so tired and useless. My life is going nowhere. Look at everyone moving forward in life and here I am stuck. I’m tired of being strong. Why does it have to be so friggin’ hard?

This is what it truly sounds like, right?

Ok, but maybe you then say to yourself, I know this medication gives me major bloating and causes crazy mood swings. But I also know next week it will taper off. I also haven’t been to the gym this week so I’m going to get back into it because I know I feel so much better when I go twice a week. I’m tired because I haven’t been sleeping well, worried about my upcoming procedure. I know when I am tired I am super grouchy. I’ve been emotionally eating too and shutting down with hubby. Tonight I’ll going to make something healthy and have a good talk about how I’m feeling. I know he loves me and just wants to help… Me being closed off and bitchy to him is not going to help at all. We are in this together. I think I’ll txt him now and let him know. I think I’ll get myself that new pair of pants and that cute top I saw online. I deserve it!

What if someone else had suggested to us ‘you just have to eat healthier, go to the gym and communicate with your spouse.” It would be dam annoying! Why? Because it’s just one more thing someone is telling us to do that we are failing at. BUT when we allow some space to just be…we come into our own truth.

What happens when we allow ourselves some space to feel the hard stuff? We actually realize that what we are feeling is temporary and not necessarily truth. We allow ourselves to dig deeper into the our own truth and move towards solutions we already know. That is healthy and that is so powerful.


Getting support and being part of a community that just get’s it, is the single most important thing you can do!

With our Mindful Fertility program, Pre-Conception Diet Makeover and private groups, we help inspire, support and connect sisters daily, from pre-conception to post baby.  We just launched our new all natural, organic fertility body care line called Bloom Essentials! Our community of support is the perfect accompaniment to fertility treatments and procedures you might be going through. Our sisterhood of support and guidance is tailored to those experiencing stress and anxiety related to infertility and related procedures such as IUI/IVF.

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