Afton Vechery wasn’t quite happy when she was handed over a $1500 bill for getting an estimation of egg count in her ovary. She was neither infertile nor had any pregnancy planning but was just curious about her reproductive health. Perturbed with such a hefty bill for a simple blood test, she founded the start-up Modern Fertility in 2017 along with Carly Leahy to offer on-demand fertility testing for just $199.
Assessment of women reproductive health seldom has been considered a priority as maintaining body-weight and fitness. While the discourse in earning equal rights in minimizing gender-pay gap and addressing workplace harassment is garnering so much attention, why should the need to get informed of reproductive health be less important?
Modern Fertility aims towards educating women of their reproductive health enabling them to be proactive and to understand the definition of family planning.
The importance of assessing women reproductive health:
One out of six women suffers from infertility. The National Survey of Family Growth by CDC revealed that more than 7 million women of reproductive age have sought fertility-related treatments. Technavio Research reports state that global fertility services market is estimated to touch $21 billion by 2020.
Women postponing childbirth due to other commitments are at a higher risk of reduced fertility. Understanding the male and female reproductive organs and function is not easy as it differs widely with each individual.
Considering the statistics, the egg supply declines as women enter 35 years of age, but for some it may happen earlier depending on a number of health factors like thyroid problems, obesity and abnormal levels of reproductive hormones. Struggling in getting pregnant is not uncommon even at a ripe age of 25 years!
How can Modern Fertility help?
In this respect, Modern Fertility can be a valuable guide. The home-testing kit offered can be easily purchased online. The women can use it for a single-prick blood test and mail it to a lab where nine hormones would be analyzed.
This includes testing the Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH), the gold standard in assessing the egg reserve, Follicle stimulating hormone, Estradiol and Thyroid stimulating hormone each telling a story about women reproductive health.
The users can get an assessment of their egg-count, irregularity in menstrual period, chances of early menopause and prospects of egg-freezing and IVF treatments through the Modern Fertility website or apps.
Identifying the fertility curve before it gets too late:
Women reproductive health is very complex. What seems fine today may not hold till late future. Even the best health tips for women fail to reverse untimely infertility. Modern Fertility aims at empowering the younger women to get the right information about their future reproductive health.
It would be wise for the health conscious young women to track another health marker that is fertility along with tracking their fitness with fitbits, smartwatches or any app. But a one-time testing will not reveal everything about your fertility profile.
The company advocates re-testing at an interval of 9-12 months to create a personalized “fertility curve” that would help in creating a right family planning definition whether to have kids now or opt for egg-freezing and IVF treatments.
If women can go for regular pap-smear tests, why not opt for a fertility assessment? At least, they would have the information of her fertility span. This was not required a few decades back when women normally opted for early pregnancy and completed their family considering the toll on reproductive health aging may have in future.
Egg-freezing – a viable option:
But now the situation has changed. Women in earlier twenties remain busy in settling their career which is important for survival. Early motherhood may not be the top priority.
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine and Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology in 2013 declared that Egg-freezing is no longer experimental opening the door of options in conception to modern women.
Women can consider this option while planning for their family. Modern Fertility is helping in democratizing access to right information about reproductive health for future betterment.
Bridging the information gap:
How well are women informed about their reproductive health? Normally, they are averse to highly-priced fertility tests going through a series of time-consuming clinical assessments. But any conversation related to fertility will give the sense that women wish to know more about their fertility status.
Modern Fertility is more of an educational tool that allows women to discuss matters with the healthcare provider and access special health tips for women. Moreover, it helps you get an honest feedback from top doctors and updated research about women reproductive health.
Do hormones give the true picture?
No single test can confirm female fertility but the numbers definitely act as a guide pointing to something significant. There are some limitations in Modern Fertility. These tests cannot be considered as a replacement for fertility therapists.
Other players in the women reproductive health market:
Modern Fertility may have brought in innovations in women healthcare tech but it is not the lone player in guiding women fertility. Other start-ups have also created waves in this domain with their unique offerings.
This digital platform offers fertility advice where subscribers pay for phone calls to experts seeking information about egg freezing or advice in conception.
This palm-sized device synced with smartphone apps is meant for tracking ovulation. Disposable wands are used to test for Leutenizing hormone in the morning pee the data of which is fed in the app. The app with a proprietary algorithm helps in tracking the ovulation period.
The Fertility Age test analyses three hormones (including the one indicating the ovary reserve) and the efforts the body is giving to produce an egg every cycle. It also checks 4 thyroid hormones affecting the female reproductive system.
It comes as a package of several tests including checking the level of menopausal hormone and metabolism. Eleven hormones are analyzed to present the right fertility profile.
The $199 priced disc sleeps under the mattress to capture your heartbeat, breathing pattern and movement during sleep which when fed into an app helps in identifying the 6-day fertility window.
Male and female reproductive organs and function contribute equally to healthy childbirth:
While these at-home test kits may speak a lot about women reproductive health, it is missing out the prime male reproductive factor that is the sperm count, quality and motility of sperms, which is equally important in baby making. According to the founder Vechery, no single test can confirm the right time to plan for conception but Modern Fertility can serve as guidance for women to make an informed decision in procreation.