Anxiety builds when you fear the unknown, and one pretty big unknown is whether you can have your own children someday. You may have no control over your fertility, but you can choose to get informed about your fertility status.
Is it just me, or do other adult women contemplate what they want to be when they grow up? I recently caught myself aimlessly researching graduate nursing programs, fantasizing about inserting IUDs or assisting births. Other days, I consider selling the jewelry I make for fun. While my professional dreams tend to ebb and flow on a continuous basis, I’ve always felt certain about one thing: I want to be a mother. Unlike writer, nurse, or designer, “mom” is a role I’ve never wavered in desiring.
My partner and I want kids one day, but not for the next few years. Right now, our careers are center stage. But as I watch friends and family members who are younger, older, or the same age as me struggle to conceive, I question my own fertility. Frightening article headlines about women’s fertility plummeting in their 30s make my heart race, and I frantically Google phrases like “egg freezing,” “fertility test,” and “geriatric pregnancy risks.” (Yes—pregnancies in women over the age of 35 are considered geriatric, which blows my mind.)
And WebMD isn’t easing any of my stress (does it help anyone?). In fact, my anxiety only continues to skyrocket. How could I learn to cope with such a huge unknown?
Knowledge is power
About a month ago, this fertility anxiety reached a point where I stopped sleeping well and my worries leaked into my relationship. My partner and I had just moved in together, but I was too stressed about the future to enjoy this special phase in the present. With no insight into my fertility, I felt out of control and skeptical of my body. I was consumed by guilt each time I overindulged in alcohol or forgot to take my multivitamin. Could these seemingly harmless behaviors be slowly chipping away at my fertility, thus keeping me from the one thing I’ve always wanted?
“Catastrophizing and worrying about worst-case scenario only increases stress for a woman,” says Susan Jager, a therapist who counsels women on fertility-related issues. “The wondering or waiting game adds an incredible amount of anxiety. Though partners can be supportive, women are unfortunately mostly in this alone because it’s their body that has to take the final step. This results in many emotions, including fear and guilt.”
I have tools at my disposal to understand everything from my credit score to my cholesterol. Hungry for information and inner peace, I set out on a mission to learn about my fertility status. After all, I figured there was no way these negative emotions were helping the situation. And with this insight, I could feel at ease with the current plan (waiting a few more years to start a family) or make moves to freeze my eggs or plan to start sooner.
…but how much does it cost?
My gynecologist referred me to a fertility clinic, which quoted me $99 for a fertility hormone test. These are an ideal testing method for women who are curious about their fertility but are not ready to start a family. After doing some competitive research on my own, I found this amount to be comparable to other clinics offering similar tests, and that many insurance plans will cover the test. My Kaiser plan offers coverage for this test.
My friend Catherine told me about Modern Fertility, a fertility test that also measures key fertility hormones, many of the same ones tested by the clinic. However, unlike the clinics, you order this testing kit online. After you receive your fertility kit in the mail, complete with instructions inside a branded pouch, you swing by a nationwide Quest Diagnostics location for a standard blood draw. Days later, Modern Fertility sends you a personalized fertility report and offers you remote access to a team of fertility specialists. It costs $159 total. According to their website, they accept HSA and FSA accounts, which can cover some or all of the cost.
Future Family and EverlyWell are other fertility tests that operate similarly to Modern Fertility. At $149, Future Family is slightly cheaper. EverlyWell costs anywhere from $79 to $300, depending on how many hormones you’d like tested (the two most important hormones to test are FSH, follicle-stimulating hormone; and AMH, anti-mullerian hormone). EverlyWell is actually an at-home kit, so you don’t even need to visit a doctor, lab, or clinic. Once you receive the kit in the mail, you take a blood spot sample at home. Then, you mail it back to EverlyWell and receive a report days later.
The prices of these four options astonished me. As I began researching, I expected to be quoted thousands of dollars. I learned that while fertility tests like IVF (In Vitro Fertilization), egg freezing, injectable hormones, and egg or sperm donation can cost thousands or even more, many blood or saliva tests that measure fertility hormones do not. For women seeking information and trying to plan (but are not actively trying to conceive), getting answers isn’t necessarily cheap, but it’s more affordable than I expected.
You aren’t helpless. Nav. Your Fertility.
Right now, I’m still weighing these testing options and talking with my gynecologist about which is right for me. But to be honest, I’m simply relieved to have options and that I took the necessary steps to learn about them. Sure, I’m still anxious about what I might learn about my fertility. But this is better than helplessly sitting in the dark and doing nothing (other than slowly sabotaging my relationship and reading one fear-inducing headline after the other).
Overall, this research project was a comforting reminder that though my professional aspirations may shift on a daily basis, there are actually two things (not one) that I have always known: Yes—I undoubtedly want to be a mom. But I always want to be an informed and empowered woman, too. Information is power. Plus, it’s always nice when the information is less pricey than you anticipated.