Many websites sell home fertility tests, commonly known as the “egg timer” test, directly to consumers. These websites often make bold claims about the effectiveness of these tests. However, a comprehensive study led by the University of Sydney has uncovered a startling truth – many of these claims are misleading and unfounded.
At the heart of this issue lies the “egg timer” test, scientifically known as the anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) test. This test measures the anti-Mullerian hormone level in the blood produced by follicles in the ovaries. While it may sound promising, several websites have significantly overstated its practicality.
The study delved into 27 websites across seven countries, selling the “egg timer” test directly to consumers. Astonishingly, three-quarters of these websites proclaimed that the test could offer valuable insights into fertility or the likelihood of conceiving. However, closer examination reveals that these websites disseminate information of questionable quality and make claims that lack substantial evidence.
For instance, some websites market the AMH test as a reliable predictor of fertility. Contrary to these assertions, scientific evidence demonstrates that the AMH test cannot reliably predict current or future fertility in the general population. Furthermore, many websites suggest that the test can indicate the onset of menopause or the risk of premature menopause, although such estimates are widely regarded as unreliable.
Dr Rachel Thompson, a co-author of the study from the Sydney School of Health Sciences Faculty of Medicine and Health, calls for greater regulation and oversight in home fertility test marketing. Currently, the direct-to-consumer marketing of AMH tests remains largely unregulated, leaving the door wide open for misleading claims.
The study also uncovered significant inconsistencies in the information on these websites. The amount and type of information varied greatly from one site to another. Alarmingly, fewer than half of the websites included statements about the limitations of the AMH test. It lacks transparency, further worsening the problem.
Ms. Alexis Johnson, an author of the study, highlights another concerning issue. Most of these websites do not offer consumers the option to consult a physician after the test. Only 5 of the 27 reviewed websites, and just one in Australia, share this crucial option.
Researchers advocate for increased public knowledge about fertility to address these concerns and help people make informed decisions about their reproductive health. Fertility awareness campaigns, greater attention to reproductive health in routine healthcare, and addressing structural barriers to earlier childbearing are more effective strategies.
The world of online home fertility tests is rife with misleading claims. Consumers must exercise caution and seek professional guidance when deciding about their reproductive journey. The path to parenthood should be accurate and not unverified promises.