Why I Got My Fertility Tested Early

This article originally appeared in the THINX blog. THINX is a taboo-smashing women’s health company that is known for their period-proof underwear.

When I was 14, my parents dragged me and my sister to a day-long career aptitude workshop. While the results forecasted my little sis would make an excellent lawyer or speech pathologist, they suggested I was best suited for a career as a mime or puppeteer. Hey, I’ve always had expressive brows and been able to kind of, sort of, pull off a beret.

This isn’t a story about proving my parents wrong and making it as a mime or puppeteer. (The closest I ever got to the latter was being an enthusiastic viewer of NSync’s “Bye, Bye, Bye” music video.) However, I’ve still explored my fair share of odd jobs and interests. I’ve been a makeup artist, jewelry designer, yoga studio manager, birth doula, and glorified vagina journalist. I’m still searching for that something that will light up my brain and fill up my heart (and ideally, my checking account, too).

Despite the many paths I’ve explored and strayed from, there’s one calling I’ve never doubted: Motherhood. In this instance, I’m specifically talking about my desire to carry, birth, and raise a human, though I recognize and rejoice in the fact that there are many ways to hone one’s maternal nature — from volunteering and mentoring, to dog and plant mom-ing.

For me, wanting to be a mom is a weird, deep-seated feeling that’s hard to explain. It feels like part of my body, like my hand or foot.

My partner and I want kids, but not for another three to five years. I also know that fertility declines with age. Having watched many close friends and family members struggle to conceive naturally, I can’t help but occasionally feel a pang — sometimes slight, sometimes severe — of fertility anxiety. What if I can’t have the thing I’ve been drawn to since I lovingly cradled my Barbies, or struggle to have it?

When I shared this with a close friend, she suggested I check out Modern Fertility. Modern Fertility’s homepage reads, “Want kids one day? Whether you’re years away from kids or thinking of trying soon, we’ll guide you through your fertility hormones now so you have options later.” Yup, cool, let’s go.

The company offers a fertility hormone test you can take at home or through a Quest Diagnostics lab — all it requires is a finger prick. Thanks to some education from the website, I learned that fertility hormone levels aren’t some baby-making crystal ball. But they can give me insight into things like how many eggs I have left in my ovaries, or if my body’s struggling to ovulate — two things that can impact my ability to get pregnant.

I decided that getting information about my fertility would be better than remaining in the dark, anxious and afraid. If the results pointed to a red flag, at least I’d be able to address it with my partner and doctor now, rather than five years down the road when things may be more difficult in the fertility department.

As simple and seamless as Modern Fertility made the sign up and testing process, the experience of waiting for my results was a complex emotional rollercoaster. Even though hormones are only one part of the fertility equation (things like age, general health, and uterine factors are a few other variables), I was still nervous about getting bad news. It reminded me of waiting for grad school admission decisions — clicking on my inbox, immediately closing my eyes, and squinting at the screen to see if there was a message. When my fertility results finally arrived, I cautiously opened the email and felt my tummy drop.

Modern Fertility reported that, based on my age, I was “within range” (AKA, average or normal) for each hormone. For example, my average anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) levels mean I likely have an average number of eggs chilling out in my ovaries for a 30 year old. I felt reassured. Most notably and surprisingly, I felt empowered — like the time I single-handedly changed a tire on the interstate, while my two guy friends watched in awe (slash terror as I eagerly whipped out the lug wrench).

Yes, fertility testing helped ease my anxiety. But really, the experience taught me that my ability and willingness to take my health into my own two hands is what’s most valuable.