Think fertility is a black or white subject? Think again - contrary to popular belief, there’s actually a whole host of other colours in the spectrum to consider. “There are many shades of grey,” says founder of the Zita West Fertility Clinic and midwife to the stars, Zita West. With National Fertility Week now upon us, babies are on the brain, as well as in the headlines as experts look to open up the discussion on fertility, infertility and all the categories in between. One particular launch that’s caught our eye in the build-up though, is the re-launch of Zita’s home fertility MOT test.
Offering women a quicker, easier and noticeably more private alternative to a visit to their surgery, the kit, which previously involved a trip to a doctor for a blood sample, can now be done in the privacy of your home through a pinprick. The results are then delivered by a phone consultation with a midwife who goes through an accompanying questionnaire and explains the results more fully to better help women plan their next steps.
It works by assessing a woman’s anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) levels - a substance produced by the ovaries, which correlate with the ovarian reserves that naturally decline with age. Its aim is to act as a first indicator of fertility (not as a marker of the quality of a woman’s eggs), revealing a woman’s egg reserve relative to her age, with subsequent tests and an ultrasound advised to provide a more definitive result. The kit positions itself as a preliminary step in providing a piece in the complex fertility puzzle to aid women in their decision-making and future family planning. Even if a low AMH test is revealed, it doesn’t mean that a woman won’t get pregnant as there are often more complicated issues to be investigated as well.
As Zita explains, “Issues such as when a woman should start a family, count her eggs or become a mother are endlessly debated. On a whole, fertility MOTs are a good idea, although they can cause anxiety and concern for many women who come back with a low egg reserve result and feel panicked and upset that they’ll never have children. This isn’t always the case as there are so many shades of grey when it comes to fertility, and it’s normally the way the results have been delivered to them that leaves them reeling.
“For every test, there is a result and women need to look ahead and seriously think about the impact the results will have on them - especially if you are single and not planning a family straight away. Women also need to remember that fertility MOTs tell us just one marker about your fertility. Other factors impact fertility too. The positive side to home testing is that it can make you take action sooner rather and later.”
It also isn’t about ‘counting’ your eggs either, a myth Zita is keen to dispel. “You cannot count the exact number of eggs you have left,” she says. “Fertility MOT tests actually assess what your general egg reserves are likely to be for your age and give a better indication when done in conjunction with an Antral Follicle Count ultrasound. A fertility test is only a vague indicator of your natural fertility potential; there is simply not enough research to decipher a trend as we have seen some women with an extremely low AMH level get pregnant naturally.”
A re-launch that’s sure to pique women’s curiosity, the fertility kit, the questionnaire and the consultation don't come cheap at £140; but it’s certainly interesting nonetheless in terms of increasing discussion, awareness and myth-busting debate around the hot topic - plus providing women with another option to consider in terms of their future family planning.
The Zita West MOT Kit, £140 is available to buy online from here .