The Two-Month Test: My Experience with At-Home Hormone Testing
Back in August, my editor reached out to me regarding an exciting partnership between our agency and Modern Fertility, a new mail-in hormone testing company. It was quick, easy, painless, informative– would I like to try one?
“Of course!” I said, with cheer and optimism. Who wouldn’t want the opportunity to access information that could shape the way they build their future family? Who wouldn’t want to know everything about their chances, good or bad? And who wouldn’t want to know as soon as possible, especially if it could be done cheaply and from the comfort of your own home?
Well… That was August.
My test arrived within a few days of our Zoom call, presented in a small, clean-looking box with soothing pastel designs printed on cards and pamphlets within.
“Hi,” the first card reads, “We’re here to walk you through your sample.”
I smiled and thought, how considerate. This must be scary for some people, it’s nice to have clear instructions and support.
My intention had been to take the test as soon as I received it, but something pulled me away. It wasn’t a good time, I had studies to attend to, and who was going to cook dinner? I’d find time later, and it would be done the next day at the latest.
Two days later, I passed that clean, white box sitting placidly on the dining table. It sat amongst my other important accouterment; my laptop and classwork, schedule book, and notes. I had meant to do it a while ago, hadn’t I? It seemed to glow with patience, silently saying, “I’m here, I’m ready for you, I’m waiting.”
“Well, I’m NOT ready,” I declared internally. “I’m not ready and I don’t want to do it yet.”
Obviously, something about this situation had me anxious, and I was procrastinating to avoid it for as long as possible. It seemed silly; why was I getting upset about a mail-in hormone test?
Was I afraid of the lancet needle? My body, covered in tattoos and sprinkled heavily with piercings, says otherwise. Perhaps it was the blood? I knew it wasn’t; I’ve cleaned up so many bodily fluids over my lifetime that there was no reason I could not handle a few drops of my own blood. I scanned my brain for logical answers that my heart was too stubborn to witness.
Whatever it was, it was cramping my style. I was supposed to be brave. Curious. Excited. I was supposed to want this, and I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Despite the clearly printed instructions on how to proceed with my test, I still did not know HOW I was going to do it.
“Tomorrow,” I told myself aloud. “I’ll do it tomorrow.”
Well, now it was just getting ridiculous.
I had managed to put off taking the test for nearly two months. Most days, I forgot about it completely, despite sitting next to it almost every day while taking my online courses. My husband would occasionally remind me, as I had asked him to (as well as help me take the actual test). After being waved off too many times, he gradually gave up mentioning it altogether.
“No time,” I had convinced myself. I had stopped looking for the reason the test had me so frightened and swaddled in aversion– I didn’t like the questions I would ask myself and the answers that sprang like weeds from those.
“Are you afraid that you will be a bad mother if you can get pregnant?” Of course not, my logic told me. Of course, said my heart.
“Are you scared there is something wrong with you?” I would never think there was anything WRONG with me, says my logic. Of course, says my heart.
“Are you scared either way? Scared of knowing?”
Of course, of course, of course.
Like many American women, I was not inundated with information about my body. Much of the information I received was censored or watered down through the gossip grapevine. I was not told about parts of my own vagina until I took an elective course on human sexuality in college. I had never been told so many things (unless I sought them out), and there was so much I didn’t know, so much I didn’t know I should know.
I felt flooded with autonomy, filled up by the fact that this would be me truly knowing me– knowing things that will change my future, my husband’s future, our lives together. It was terrifying. I was terrified.
On October 19th, my editor reached out to me by email.
“Did you get your Modern test done?”
“Tomorrow,” I said to myself once more. “For sure.”
I sat at the dining room table, the contents of the Modern Fertility test box laid out neatly in front of me, just as their “How To” video advised.
The tiny white-and-blue BD lancet was on my left ring finger, slightly to the side of the center of the fingertip, as advised. My wedding finger, I noted solemnly. I turn in my seat to face my husband.
“I’m scared,” I finally say, out loud, to him, to me, to the whole world.
He stands up, walks over to me, and places a firm hand on my shoulder. “That’s okay,” he smiles, “It’s scary!”
I know the pain from the needle will be short and subtle, but my hand quivered as I took in a huge gulp of air. I exalted, pushed down, waited for the agonizing release of my tension to wash over.
Prick. Swoon. I wiped the first drop of blood away, as instructed.
I watched my blood drip onto the testing card. Still shaking, voice trembling, I spoke aloud. “I did it.” My relief was immeasurable.
I am waiting for the card to dry, now. It is almost ready to be placed in its blood sample return bag. Then into a biohazard bag. Then its shipping packaging. Then to the mailbox. Within ten business days, I will have an overview of my hormone health. I will receive the answers to so many questions.
And this time, I think I’ll be ready.