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"Testing is empowering": How one woman is using Modern Fertility to make her fertility plans less theoretical

Margo is really into information. A product owner at a technology company in Boston, she likes to have a plan.

"I like to understand things," she explains. That includes her health, and she's done a lot of testing: genetic (discovering the identity of an unknown family member had her wondering more about what she could potentially pass down to her kids), metabolic/digestion evaluations (she was misdiagnosed with celiac disease in her 20s), cholesterol checks, and Modern Fertility's fertility hormone test.

Margo, who's turning 36 this year, often feels that the information she gets from health care providers isn't specific enough.

"We have a history of thyroid conditions in my family, but when I was tested, I was told I was in the normal range. What does that mean? What's the range? Am I on the low end of it? The high end? It's important to me to see the reports, the numbers, and the explanations so I know what I'm actually dealing with, instead of just hypotheticals," she says.

She sees the Modern Fertility test (which she learned about after seeing it in a friend's Instagram story) as part of a logical progression in being proactive about her health. Most of the women in her family had given birth later in life, and she hadn't always been sure that she wanted kids.

"I went back and forth about it throughout my 20s, but when I was finally in a stable relationship where I felt like I was on equal footing with my partner, I decided I did actually want to have kids. I'm glad I kept checking in with myself."

Once she knew she wanted kids as part of her future, she wanted to take things into her own hands, so she could have an educated conversation with her doctor. So she took the test.

"I can talk about having kids in the future with my fiance and we know what we're dealing with.

Margo takes birth control to cope with ovarian cysts. She knew that because she was on birth control, she'd be testing only her anti-mullerian hormone. AMH levels indicate ovarian reserve, or how many eggs are left in the ovaries. Margo's AMH levels came back in the normal to average range, which made her feel more comfortable about continuing to wait to have kids.

Fast forward to a year later. Engaged and ready to start a new chapter in her life, Margo decided to retest with Modern Fertility. AMH levels decline with age, and they can be a predictor (but not a cause) of menopause. Margo wanted to keep an eye out for steep declines in her AMH, which might indicate that her ovarian reserve is depleting faster than expected. That information allows her and her partner to decide if they want to adjust their kid timeline.

Testing and retesting, Margo says, made her plans less theoretical and gave her peace of mind.

"I can talk about having kids in the future with my fiance and we know what we're dealing with. We're going to give ourselves a year, and then start trying."

It's also helped her understand her body better, since when she gets her results, she gets more context into what "normal" means, and where she is in relation to the highs and lows of the range.

And, in the spirit of getting as much information as possible, she's going to continue to track her fertility hormones over time. Because she's on hormonal birth control, Margo doesn't get her period. She wants to see what's up with her fertility once she stops taking birth control, since birth control can mask the symptoms of some conditions, like PCOS. The thought of something complicating her plans to have kids is scary, she admits, but that's why she's going to continue to track her fertility hormones.

"I think having stress and anxiety about my health can create an environment that's not conducive to me achieving my goals. Testing is empowering."

Even if things changed with her partner, Margo says, she wouldn't alter her plans to have kids, and having information about her fertility makes her feel secure. "My choices about my body wouldn't change, and it's great to have access to this information and know that I can talk about it on my own terms."

If you're not trying to get pregnant, Dr. Nataki Douglas, M.D., Ph.D., Chair of Modern Fertility's Medical Advisory Board, recommends retesting every 12 months. With two test results spaced about a year apart, you can look at how your results change relative to your age. If you’re transitioning off hormonal birth control, Nataki recommends that you check in after 3-6 months to see if your birth control method impacted your hormone levels.

If you’re a planner like Margo, you can use our Timeline Tool, which uses clinical data to map out your ideal fertility scenario (your age, how many children you want, and how long you want to wait in between if you want more than one).

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Chanel Dubofsky

Chanel's writing has appeared in Cosmo, Rewire, Lilith, HelloFlo, & Extra Crispy. She has an MFA in Fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts & lives in New York. Follow her @chaneldubofsky.

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