Superdrug has launched a fertility testing service which allows women to monitor their menstrual cycles and hormone levels at home.
The high street store is offering four different fertility blood tests which can be ordered through its online website, taken at home through a finger-prick and then sent off to a medical lab for results.
A progesterone test (£39.99) will allow women to check if they released an egg during their menstrual cycle.
Superdrug is also offering an anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) test (£76.99). AMH is a protein that is produced when eggs are developed in the ovaries.
A pituitary hormones test (£84.99) will check if the pituitary gland is producing the right level of hormones, which can affect the function of the ovaries.
Additionally, those who have irregular periods can opt for a polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) test (£65.99) – a condition that affects a woman’s hormone levels.
Women with PCOS produce higher amounts of male hormones, which can lead to infrequent menstrual cycles and make it harder to get pregnant.
Superdrug said it hopes the service will help women access information about fertility more easily and enable them to take “greater control” of their reproductive health.
For those who are unsure of which test to opt for, Superdrug is offering an online consultation for £5.
During the consultation, individuals will be asked to fill out a quick online questionnaire, which is then reviewed by a team of doctors who will advise on which test is best suited to them.
Dr Sara Kayat, Superdrug’s medical ambassador commented: “For women who have been trying to get pregnant and not succeeding, or for those who are just curious about their fertility, easy access to blood tests may help provide answers and signpost them in the right direction .”
However, experts have expressed some reservations about the commercialization of fertility tests, which has become commonly known as fertility MOTs.
The British Fertility Society has cautioned that AMH tests were developed to inform IVF treatment, and not assess natural fertility.
“Many women with low ovarian reserve will conceive without any problems whilst others with a good ovarian reserve may take time and need fertility treatment,” it said.
“There is no doubt that tests showing a good ovarian reserve are reassuring but they by no means guarantee a baby and equally a poor or impaired ovarian reserve does not mean you will struggle and need fertility treatment.”
Dr Channa Jayasena, clinical director at Imperial Reproductive Endocrinology, previously told The Independent that such tests could push women into changing their behavior based on “limited evidence”.
“Companies are very good at blinding us by science on how accurate these tests are, and we need to consider what the ethical implications are of putting undue stress on someone … or making them inappropriately freeze their eggs.”
He explained that low AMH levels “just tells us that if you were having IVF, you’d need more hormones”.
“It tells us no more than your age about when you’re going through the menopause. You can still get pregnant with no AMH, and high AMH can be problematic as it can be associated with PCOS.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.