Fertility tests at home

Between fertility apps that track menstrual periods and at-home kits that tell a woman if she’s ovulating and a man if he has a low sperm count, there are more options than ever before that seem to give couples hope.

One in 8 couples in the U.S. struggles to get pregnant and, by 2020, the fertility testing devices market is expected to be worth $216.8 million dollars, according to a report by Markets and Markets.

“Patients ask what can they do at home to be more engaged in their fertility treatment plan,” said Dr. Brian Levine, a board-certified OB-GYN and fertility specialist, and the New York practice director for the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine in New York City. “By offering people the ability to use at-home testing, it affords them the opportunity to be empowered.”

Optimize ovulation

Ovulation predictor kits can help women who have regular cycles optimize their timing to have sex. Although they can give a woman valuable data about her ovulation timing, some experts caution women should only use the kits under a doctor’s care.

“Ovulation predictor kits are useful if you have already established if the patient is ovulating normally,” said Dr. Thomas Price, president of the Society for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility.

Kits can sometimes give a false positive reading. For example, for women with PCOS, their luteinizing hormone (LH) level may always be elevated, causing the reading to show a surge without optimal ovulation, Price said.

Another challenge is that women may not read or follow the directions correctly. Plus, since they’re sensitive tests, if women use the kits at the wrong time or the wrong part of their cycles, they can be inaccurate.

“Once a patient comes in the door, I have many more effective techniques to offer them as compared to ovulation predictor kits,” said Dr. Marie Werner, a board-certified OB-GYN and high-complexity clinical laboratory director at Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey in Eatontown.

There’s an app for that
“Almost every one of my patients is using some sort of a fertility app, whether it’s tracking their menstrual calendars or trying to predict the fertile window with them,” Werner said.