Ever wonder what a visual representation of your future fertility would look like? With Modern Fertility’s new timeline tool, you can get just that. While fertility isn't an exact science, because our individual bodies are so unique, the tool shows averages pertaining to your age and your hormone levels, and that’s a great place to start. I got a chance to try it out, and here's what happened.
My fertility journey
I began trying to get pregnant at 24, ditching the birth control I had been on not long after I got married, and my husband and I began to prepare for our future as parents. We talked about having three kids, hopefully by the time I was in my early thirties. Of course, life, as we all know, doesn’t always work out the way you plan.
I gave birth to my first child six years after we had initially started. The years leading up to the birth were filled with ovulation test kits, intrauterine inseminations (IUIs), three rounds of in vitro fertilization (IVF), and two separate cycles of using frozen donor eggs. And while I’ve written many times about going through all these treatments, it still makes my head spin when I think of all it took to get my miracle baby.
Here’s what I know now about what was going on with my body, in the order of which it was discovered:
- A tendency towards low progesterone, which affects the luteal phase of menstrual cycle. My levels back when we were still trying to get pregnant by old-fashioned sex were much lower than the needed levels in order to have an embryo successfully implant, a luteal phase deficiency. I started on Clomid, a medication that could help my follicles develop and multiply.
- My thyroid levels (TSH) were a bit on the high side from a fertility standpoint, according to my doctor, so I also started on a medication for it. (High TSH has been linked to unexplained infertility)
- I have an AMH (anti-mullerian hormone) level of 0.5. It’s determined I most likely have diminished ovarian reserve Armed with this information, my husband and I tried two more IVF cycles, after our first failed, before making the decision to move to donor eggs to create our family.
- During blood work for a pregnancy loss panel after two miscarriages, I learned that I have the MTHFR mutation, which is a possible explanation of my losses. I started on two different blood thinners and a folate supplement to combat this during my second donor egg cycle.
All of these issues cropped up every few years while going through my fertility journey. My AMH and MTHFR gene mutation concerns only came about because of my IVF cycles because my medical team only looked for them when there was a problem.
Using the timeline tool
I decided, when I sat down to play with the timeline tool, that I would first input my current age and when I was hoping to have my second child. I entered my age as 33 and plugged in 34 as the age I wanted my next child. I put the number of kids at one because, in all honesty, my daughter and possibly a sibling for her is probably the most I’m ever going to have.
Hovering over the baby face icon in the timeline, it reported that my risk of miscarriage was at 15%. It also showed that 11% of women at age 34 would be unable to have a child at that age. The rate of having a baby with Downs Syndrome was 2.27/1000.
The hormone section has seven different hormones such as estradiol (your estrogen levels), prolactin, and AMH. For each hormone, you can slide the bar over to low, normal, or high levels of each. Obviously, you’d have to know what your own levels are — Modern Fertility’s customized hormone test can help you with this — but thanks to my most recent fertility treatment, I had all of these labs handy. My AMH bar slid over to the low side and I knew all my other test results were in the normal range.
According to the timeline tool, my low AMH doesn’t necessarily mean anything in terms of getting pregnant right now. But, says the tool, knowing this can mean I have fewer eggs waiting around in my ovaries — something that is most likely accurate in my case. It also showed I could possibly start my transition into menopause as early as 41 and how, with my lower AMH, I could go into full menopause at 51.
I was curious about what my timeline would have looked like had I taken this at 24 and had just received those initial lab results back in 2010. I input that I wanted my first child at 25, and that I wanted three kids, roughly three years apart. I also put my AMH back to normal, since, at the time, I had no idea what it really was. My TSH levels were a little on the high side back then, so I made the adjustment there. Everything else stayed in average range.
Still in my shoes as a 24-year-old, I chose "3 years between kids" and according to the timeline, I would have kids at 25, 28, and 31 (oh if it has only worked out that way!). The numbers gradually went up for the percentage of women unable to have kids at 25, 28, and 31, from 4.5 to 8 percent. My risk of miscarriage hovered at 11.9% but increased to 15% by age 31. My risk of having a baby with Down Syndrome was now lower at 1.35 out of 1,000. Obviously, with my unknown AMH levels back then, with the assumption it was normal, I probably had an average number of eggs in reserve, but my higher TSH levels could indicate hypothyroidism (correct, in my case).
What can the tool tell you about your future fertility?
It would have been very interesting to utilize Modern Fertility hormone test and fertility profile back when I was 24. How would my fertility journey have been different, had I also been able to use this timeline tool and take both this and my hormone levels back to my doctor? Would I have been put through multiple fertility treatments with my own eggs for so long, spending our life’s savings on something that just wasn’t going to work?
For others using this tool, it could be enormously helpful in broadening their knowledge base, and the results are something they can bring up with their health care provider. Having this baseline in hand is so important when it comes to every woman’s fertility options, whether or not other concerns crop up along the way.