The 101 on Fertility and Fertility Tests

The 101 on Fertility and Fertility Tests

Let’s talk about Fertility and Fertility Tests

Fertility (noun) – the quality of being fertile; productiveness. (In other words, your body’s natural ability to produce children).

Let’s talk about fertility. Whether you’re already a parent, thinking about having a baby or are just curious we’re here to break it all down. Waiting until the time is right and hoping for the best isn’t the only option. Even before you start thinking about having children, there are many options available for you to check-up on your fertility (sounds great, right?). Before we get into the details, let’s start with the basics.

The Menstrual Cycle and Pregnancy

Our menstrual cycle is what regulates our monthly cycle. In women, this is all affected by two key hormones Luteinizing Hormone (LH) and Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH). LH and FSH are basically chemical signals which help regulate our menstrual cycle.

  • LH starts the ovulation process by signalling to our ovarian follicle to release an egg into the fallopian tube.

  • FSH helps to produce ovarian follicles (temporary housing for your eggs) which eventually grows into one follicle and egg ready for ovulation for your menstrual cycle.

Roughly every month, one egg is released from our ovaries. If the egg isn’t fertilised by the sperm then our lining in the uterus sheds through our vagina causing us to have a period.

So, what happens if our eggs are fertilised by sperm? Simple! The fertilised egg implants itself into the uterus which is also known as conception.


A good way to think about the chances of having a healthy pregnancy is like a line of dominos. If one block wobbles, this has a knock-on effect for the blocks in-front:

  • Are the sperm and egg healthy?

  • Do regular periods occur?

  • Are the reproductive organs working properly?

  • Are both involved healthy and within a good age window?

Fun fact: We are born with all of our eggs (this is called our ovarian reserve). The quality and amount we are born with decreases with age and some external factors. The rate at which our ovarian reserve reduces is different between people this is why it’s important to regularly monitor these hormones.

Fertility Hormones

Now back to those fertility hormones (our old friends LH and FSH). What happens if these are out of range?

If your LH levels are too high, this can increase the amount of testosterone in the body (high LH is commonly related to Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS). If your LH levels are too low, the eggs are less likely to be released so less chance of becoming fertilised. Both scenarios can make it harder to become pregnant.

If your FSH is too high this could signal that your body is working overtime to mature the follicle ready for the egg to be released. This could possibly mean that the number of eggs left (ovarian reserve) is low. If too low, follicles struggle to develop which may cause the egg to not be released. Again, both scenarios affecting fertility.

There’s also another hormone which can help to predict ovarian reserve – Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH).  This is produced by the follicles in the ovaries (remember, that temporary housing for your eggs). AMH can be a better indicator of your egg supply as AMH levels don’t change during the menstrual cycle like FSH. A high AMH level signals a high ovarian reserve.

Getting your LH, FSH, and AMH tested in combination helps us to create a good picture of your fertility profile. To take this one step further, it’s also possible to count the total number of eggs left by getting an ultrasound examination at your fertility clinic.

Whether you’re actively trying to conceive or not, keeping an eye on these hormones to ensure that they are within optimal range is important to make sure your ovaries are working correctly as part of your menstrual cycle. We recommend monitoring these levels at least once a year. As you age, your body changes and your fertility reduces overtime. The same way you take your car for a regular MOT, keeping a check on your fertility can help you plan for your future, even if you are nowhere near thinking about having a family yet. Fertility testing is the first step on this road to becoming empowered about your fertility and reproductive health.

Fertility Tests

As much as we like fortune cookies in our takeaways, we can’t predict our future, however, there are a few things which we can measure to help us understand our fertility past our suggested fertile window. Blood tests, ultrasounds and x-rays can all help us out. Don’t worry. We’ll go into what each of these means.

Blood tests

Sound’s scarier than it is but a simple swab or finger prick test, blood tests can help us measure key fertility hormones. Alongside LH, FSH, and AMH, at Syrona Women we test for other hormones such as Progesterone which helps us understand your menstrual cycle and how to plan for conception. We also look at Free thyroxine (FT4) and Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) which gives us a picture of your thyroid function, essential as it links to your fertility. Fertility doctors (Reproductive Endocrinologists) have a few more ways to assess fertility.


Fertility doctors may also take an x-ray (hysterosalpingogram) of your uterus and fallopian tubes. This allows them to see whether there’s any blockages which could prevent your eggs from being released.


Transvaginal ultrasounds help fertility doctors to count the follicles in your ovaries. Note: this is not the same type of ultrasound that we have when you’re pregnant! The doctor inserts the ultrasound wand into your vagina and this allows them to view your follicles to give a picture as to whether the number of follicles for someone of your age and health profile.

So, where do I start?

You’re probably thinking, so where do I start? Many of us have already taken the first step by monitoring our menstrual cycle, may be manually or through an app and know when our fertile window is. The next step is to really understand what’s going on in our bodies through monitoring our hormones through a blood test.  

At Syrona Women, we can help you do so through our at-home fertility kits. We’ll send you an at-home kit where you take a sample and you simply pop it back to us in the post and we’ll send you the results within a few days. Don’t worry, we’ll give you the low-down as to what is all means and we’ll support you throughout your female healthcare journey. Think of it something similar to your credit score, by knowing where you currently are helps you make decisions on what to do next. Welcome to the Syrona Women community!

If you have any questions, let us know!
















Pregnancy Pain and Pregnancy Massages

Pregnancy Pain and Pregnancy Massages

Why do I get back and joint pain during my pregnancy? 

Back and joint pain in pregnancy is more common than you expect. It has been reported that 2-in-3 women experience back pain, with 20%  experiencing pelvic pain. This can have a big impact interfering with work, sleep and just everyday activities.

So why does this happen? Well, this is down to your general posture and a change in hormones but it all depends on the stage of your pregnancy.

First Trimester (weeks 1-12) 

Back pain during this period is mainly down to changes in your hormones! During your first trimester, a hormone called progesterone increases. This prepares your body for pregnancy and helps to thicken the lining of the uterus to help it receive the embryo. Progesterone also helps to prevent contractions which is essential in the early stages of pregnancy.

When it comes to your body’s external physical changes, high levels of Progesterone helps the muscles and ligaments relax near the pelvis, which can affect the alignment and stability of the joints.

There is another hormone called relaxin which increases during pregnancy which affects the ligaments which support the spine.

First Trimester Lower Back Pain – 

Back pain can often be one of the first indications that you’re pregnant. It can be from a variety of reasons like when the uterus expands to accommodate your growing baby.
Poor posture from the added weight of carrying a baby is also another key reason for back pain (yes, even in the first trimester!). 

Second Trimester (weeks 13-26)

During your second trimester is when a lot of the back and joint pain becomes more noticeable. About ⅔ of women have lower back pain during their second trimester. This is where a pregnancy massage can really help!

Back pain during this period usually occurs due to the simple fact that your baby is growing bigger week-by-week. This puts a strain on your back muscles causing changes in your posture. Below are some of the most common times women experience lower back pain in their second trimester. 

Second Trimester Lower Back Pain

  • Dull pain in the lower back.
  • Back Stiffness.
  • Pain when bending over.

We also have specific bits of connective tissue either side of the uterus to help keep it in place, called ‘Round Ligaments’. During pregnancy, our uterus expands which causes these ligaments to stretch. Round Ligament pain starts to become most noticeable in the second trimester but only last a few minutes. Some of the key symptoms include:

Second Trimester Round Ligament Pain

  • A sharp pain, usually on one side of the belly.
  • Pain that may grow into a pain in the groin or hip.
  • Pain that is more noticeable after exercise.

Thirds Trimester (weeks 27+)

Congratulations! Finally in the last trimester. In a few weeks, your baby will arrive! This can also be the toughest period for your body. It’s important to know what’s normal when it comes to discomfort in your body over this period.

As your body prepares for childbirth, Progesterone increases (that hormone which loosens your ligaments). This increases the flexibility in your pelvis so that your baby is able to come out more easily. Hip pain and lower back pain increases as your ligaments loosen.

There’s a nerve which runs from your lower back down to your feet called the sciatic nerve. During pregnancy, this nerve becomes enlarged causing pain and numbness in the lower back, thighs. This pain is called Sciatica. Don’t worry though – this pain shouldn’t harm your growing baby!

To ease the pain, many women find stretching, warm baths, using pillows as support and pregnancy massages to be great pain relief.


What is a Pregnancy Massage?

Here’s what our expert therapist Lisa has to say, “This is a safe treatment for all mums-to-be who are over 12 weeks pregnant, or have recently given birth. A pregnancy massage is really similar to a classic deep tissue massage, but is tailored to the needs of the mother and unborn baby”.

Your therapist is qualified to give prenatal and postnatal massages and will have specific pregnancy massage training and are happy to make the experience bespoke for your needs and your unborn baby.

You’ll be on your side throughout this treatment, to ensure your baby receives oxygen and nutrients by not compressing the umbilical vein.

Your therapist will use long, slow strokes and kneading movements in the places where you’re feeling tense, with special attention paid to the lower back, head, neck and face for a full-body experience.

So feel free to ask any questions you might have before your treatment starts.


What are the benefits of a Pregnancy Massage?

The most common therapy for women during pregnancy is massage therapy. The benefits such as relief in back and joint pain speak for itself but there are additional benefits which have been explored in controlled scientific studies.

Let’s break it down – one study explored the benefits of massage for 20 mins per week for 5 weeks. This resulted in decreased depression, anxiety alongside decreased Cortisol activity (The hormone associated with stress!) compared to the women who did not have massages.

Lowering Cortisol has been reported to have a direct effect on improving the growth of the fetus and reducing the chances of premature birth.  


What can I do to help?

Time to focus on you! – Pregnancy (prenatal) can have great effects on both your body and your mind. Massage therapy has demonstrated to decrease the feelings of anxiety, depression, leg and back pain. It has also been shown to reduce pain during labour.


Sounds great! Where can I get one?

Syrona Women brings all the services you need as women together on one platform. One of our most popular services is the pre-natal and post-natal pregnancy massage (See more info on how these massages can help you post-pregnancy). 

The advantages of our massages are that our fully-vetted and insured therapists come directly to you! Whether that be at home or work, we cater to your needs.