*we've made podcast number 2! click through here to head to Spotify to listen to me, Elysia and Della have a chat about Hertility*
The idea of a biological clock still dominates females' lives and impacts the choices that we make on a regular basis. When we asked our community some questions about fertility, 54% of people said they worried often or a bit about their fertility, and 66% said they felt pressured by either society or friends and family to have children. No one ever really talks about male fertility, with 87% of our community agreeing, but female fertility however seems to be on the forefront of society’s mind. But what if, like me, you’re not ready for kids yet? Even though you’re ‘supposed to be’ (raise your hand if you thought you’d be married with kids by 25 at age 15 - meee!) and have realised that actually, I’d rather not right now. Well that’s me, and that's why I did the Hertility test.
Founded by scientists and powered by an (all female) research team, Hertility is a reproductive health company bringing the latest science out of the lab direct to your home. I interviewed Ruby Relton, a Senior Scientific Research Associate at Hertility, about the company itself and the issues surrounding female healthcare. If you wanted some more in depth information about who Hertility are and what they do, you can find it here.
Reaching out to Hertility
I came across Hertility on Instagram, and was immediately intrigued by their mission of ‘helping you understand your body’, specifically to do with hormone and fertility testing. As part of The Egalitarian, we are always looking for companies that align with our own values to collaborate with, and I was ecstatic about the prospect of being involved with Hertility and spreading the message about the brilliant work they are doing and incredible services they offer.
Out of the four categories of people that may use Hertility (planning for the future, actively trying to conceive, experiencing symptoms or just curious), I found that I fall into the ‘planning for the future’ category. I do want kids, but I want them on my own terms. I have so many things that I want to do first before I get there, but I feel the societal and biological weight of conceiving earlier rather than later laying very heavily on my shoulders. With the threat of early menopause looming over me from my family history, and with close female family members struggling with their own fertility, I found that lately, more so than ever, my fertility has been at the forefront of my mind.
The Hertility test kit came at exactly the right time for me, and I now have some clear and comforting answers on my fertility and hormone health.
The online assessment and the kit
Prior to receiving the kit in the post, I completed an online assessment that took about 10 minutes. This enabled Hertility to discover what hormones they were going to test my blood sample for and what outcomes I wanted from the test. I had to input some information about myself and my period cycles, so before completing the assessment, I would recommend tracking your period (if they are regular and you are able to) for a month before so you know your cycle dates, length and flow. After the assessment, my kit was shipped and I received an email from Hertility welcoming me to ‘The Mother of all Movements’ and letting me know that my test was already on its way, alongside a detailed and easy to follow how-to video for collecting my sample. When the test arrived, it included everything I needed to complete the test, including a couple of guides detailing the steps to collect my sample and other bits of information I needed.
Taking the Test
I had to wait until a particular day of my cycle for my test (which was to test for fertility), so had to wait a few weeks to complete it. I ensured that I set a notification on my phone to test (and also received a text from Hertility the day before to remind me) and then read the guide a few days prior to collecting my sample to make sure I did it right. I had to do my test in the morning before going to work, and I was a bit stressed that it would take me ages - which thankfully it didn’t! I’ll admit, I’m a bit of a baby when it comes to blood (especially my own!) and was naturally feeling a little anxious because of this. I had done an at home STI test before where I collected a blood sample, so already kind of knew the drill. This test was soo much easier than previous ones I’ve done as Hertility gave me some helpful tips in their guide for creating good blood flow.
It took me about 7 minutes to collect my sample as I had to prick more than one finger (a reason why I hate blood is because my body is so rubbish at getting it out!) but ultimately it was completely fine and relatively painless. The process was made really easy because of the guides and videos provided by Hertility, which made me feel much better!
As soon as I had finished collecting my sample, I made sure I packed everything up right in the kit box to return to Hertility in the post. I sent it off the same day on my way to work and voila! It was all done. Then all I had to do was wait 10-12 days for the results to be emailed to me.
Getting the results
I was really nervous waiting for the results, and I woke up to the email from Hertility telling me that my results had arrived. You have your own dashboard that you can log in to and you can read a fully detailed and personally written report. When I opened my report, I was able to see what doctor had analysed my results.
My heart sank a little when I read the words ‘there are some results that I would recommend looking into further as they can sometimes be related to underlying conditions’, and I was desperate to read further along to figure out what was going on. The next section summed up my hormone ranges in readable and accessible graphs, this was especially helpful for someone like me with limited scientific knowledge!
The next stage was an in-depth explanation on what each of the hormones meant and every section had a ‘what it means for you’ piece that explained the results shown. I was really pleased to discover that my egg reserve is in range, as is the luteinising hormone that triggers ovulation. I did however discover that my levels of follicle stimulating hormones (FSH) were low, which ‘suggests your menstrual cycle health may require further investigation’. I had to do a little Youtube video watching to fully understand the function of all the different hormones, and understand that the low FSH has basically something to do with how the egg develops in the ovary before it is released into the fallopian tube.
In the next stage of the report, it outlined that I have some unexplained symptoms that may need further investigation. My personal doctor suggested some next steps that included more monitoring of my hormones and a further consultation with a specialist to discuss these results. There are then some little insights which are a bit like advice on the last section of the report for some extra information to leave you with.
Because I am in the ‘planning for the future’ category, I thought it was really important to at least find out this information. So even though I may not want to act on it right now, I am so pleased that I have the answers and can take this forward when the time is right for me. And that really is the thing that I have loved most about this test, is being able to take my fertility into my own hands, being able to understand what is going on with my own body and being informed enough to make my own decisions on my next steps. The peace of mind that I now have moving forwards into a dynamic part of my adult life has made me feel settled on the fact that it is completely okay not to stress about my fertility right now, and that I don’t owe anyone a baby! Female autonomy with medical procedures and knowledge has been severely lacking for decades, and it’s about time the medical world caught up on ensuring that females have access to specific and effective healthcare for them. I feel like Hertility are really on to something here with their innovative and informative work.
With this collaboration, Hertility are giving you, dear readers, £10 off the test kit with the code EGALITARIAN23 and this will be automatically applied at checkout when buying through this link.
If you are part of the 67% who said that answers about their fertility would make them feel better about their fertility, then join the Mother of all Movements, join Hertility, and join the ever-growing group of females and people with ovaries who are informed about their fertility and hormone health, where other medical services can’t.