January 4, 2023
6 Minutes

Fertility tests, explained

Fertility tests, explained
Written by
Dr Fatema Mustansir Dawoodbhoy
Amilis makes fertility digestible, accessible, and affordable to help you take charge of your reproductive health and live on your own timeline.

In an eggshell...

  • Fertility tests are made up of ultrasound scans and blood tests to show your overall reproductive health
  • Most clinics test for the Anti-Mullerian hormone and do an Antral Follicle count

Periods... On average, we get 450 periods over our lifetime. Some heavy, some light. Some painful, some manageable. Some come like clockwork and some come whenever they feel like it.

We are often told that getting periods is a healthy sign that our body is ovulating once a month, but this is not entirely true. With some conditions like endometriosis and PCOS, you can still experience your monthly bleed without ovulating (releasing an egg).

There is no way to truly know your fertility baseline purely on your periods and so, we need to dig deeper to find out what is really going on inside our female anatomy. This is where fertility testing can help us learn more about ourselves and our fertility reserves.

What are fertility tests?

Fertility tests are usually carried out by trained healthcare professionals. It involves a series of tests and consultations so they can truly understand your fertility. Most fertility test packages come with a consultation with a fertility specialist, a blood test and an ultrasound scan.

The blood test usually measures hormones in our body which assess our ovarian reserve (how many eggs are present in our ovaries). Most clinics mainly test for the Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) level in our body, but some places might also test for the Follicle-Stimulating hormone (FSH). A reassuring AMH level for a fertile woman is typically 1.0-4.0 ng/ml.

The ultrasound test is often an internal transvaginal ultrasound scan that allows the clinics to get a better visualisation of your womb and ovaries. This internal scan might sound scary but it gives the professionals a more accurate depiction of your anatomy and any polyps, fibroids and cysts that might be present. Have you ever tried out a dildo? Some say it feels just like that! If not, let me reassure you it’s not as scary as you think.

During the ultrasound scan, specialists are able to get a picture of your ovaries to see the number of 'antral follicles'. In case you didn't know, follicles are fluid-filled sacs in the ovaries are where eggs can develop and mature. 'Antral follicles' represent the premature sacs that have the potential to support egg growth. Here, the idea is that the higher number of antral follicles you have, the higher your egg count may be.

Following the results from the blood test and scan, you will meet with a fertility expert who will break down all the medical mumbo-jumbo and explain to you in digestible terms what the tests have shown about your fertility, At the same time, you will have a chance to ask any questions or share any worries you might have to the doctor.

How do I choose a clinic?

If you are lost in the sea of clinics to choose from, why not try the Amilis Clinic Finder to make your journey just a little easier? You can compare the costs of fertility tests at different clinics near you.

At what age should I get a fertility test?

While there is technically no right or wrong answer here, there is a recommended answer. It is entirely up to you but if you know you want to conceive down the line and are worried about your chances, for your own peace of mind, it is recommended to do a fertility test in your 20s. The earlier, the better, just in case you catch something unexpected or realise you’re on the lower end of the fertility scale for your age group. You do not have to actively be trying to conceive to have a test done. The test simply allows you to get to know yourself on a deeper, more personal level!

Amilis - who are we?

Here at Amilis, we are looking to break down the barriers to information women struggle to find on fertility - we are talking stats, costs and everything else the internet hides from us. You can find a clinic we have partnered with on our website and through us secure a free initial consultation with them. 

Written by
Dr Fatema Mustansir Dawoodbhoy

Academic Foundation Doctor at Barts Health NHS Trust