Our Past Clinical Trials
The information that follows discusses a consult that might be done at a fertility doctor’s office or at home through the Turtle Health virtual clinic: health questionnaire, blood work, semen analysis, and ultrasound. It is up to the doctor to prescribe the right testing for you after reviewing your health information.*
What risk factors lead to infertility?
Fertility risks can be caused by a variety of factors, from lifestyle to hormone levels to age and abnormal sperm shape. To predict if a couple will experience fertility challenges, doctors look at various aspects of biology to understand all possible causes. If we look for just one cause, we risk missing others.
Click on the interactive wheel below to learn more about fertility risks and testing.
Which tests are used to assess fertility risk?
What is the scientific basis for comprehensive testing?
There is evidence from two landmark studies that comprehensive testing can help identify people at risk of infertility – before they are diagnosed with infertility.
The Peterson study followed about 500 women over several years. It showed that gathering 21 data points from three tests – blood work, ultrasound, and health questionnaire – could stratify women into three risk groups. Within these risk groups, women who had greater risk factors took longer to get pregnant and had lower overall pregnancy rates.
Another study using real-world data from Utah analyzed 11 data points across thousands of men to predict probability of pregnancy. Certain risk factors led to a lower rate of pregnancy in a couple. Factors like sperm quality combined with smoking history led to lower rates of paternity than sperm quality alone.
Why doesn’t blood work alone tell the full story about female ovarian reserve?
Ovarian reserve refers to the quantity of eggs a woman has left. Doctors usually use two types of assessments to estimate ovarian reserve: Anti-Müllerian Hormone (AMH) bloodwork, and antral follicle count (AFC) which counts the visible immature follicles on a woman’s ovaries via ultrasound.
While AFC and AMH are often correlated, there could be instances where they’re not – given they measure slightly different underlying biological mechanisms. For example, some women have a large number of eggs emitting less-than-expected amounts of AMH. Others may have fewer eggs, but with robust hormone levels. Where possible, doctors look at both metrics to get a complete picture of ovarian reserve.
Why is semen analysis alone not enough to test male fertility?
Semen analysis is valuable in understanding the male factor in infertility, but it is only one piece of the puzzle. Semen analysis tests for the total number of sperm that swim forward (Total Progressive Motile Count, or TPMC), as well as sperm shape. However, some studies have shown that lifestyle factors are an even larger predictor of fertility for men.
Also, semen alone only accounts for about 20% of infertility risk in a heterosexual couple.