Frequently Asked Questions
Fertility & Fern DNA
What does Fern DNA mean?
FERN stands for Functional Evaluation of Reproductive Nutrigenomics.
Is Fern DNA only for people with eggs?
No. Fern DNA is for anyone who is trying to have a baby — that also means people with spem, and/or people with a uterus.We customize our reports and genetic factors to support the eggs, sperm or endometrial environment.
How does Fern DNA help infertility?
Many Fern DNA users are those who have gone through extensive testing with their fertility doctors — without any abnormal results. These cases are deemed idiopathic, meaning the cause of infertility is unknown.
Genetic testing provides another diagnostic tool. This can help to uncover potential issues which can’t be seen on bloodwork or ultrasound alone. While genetics is not the entire picture, it can offer insights otherwise unknown.
But Fern isn’t just for fertility patients. It can also help people who are trying to conceive, and those who are already pregnant by providing helpful insights into the types of foods, nutrients, and environment that will best support conception, pregnancy and baby.
What if I’m trying to conceive naturally OR starting a fertility treatment?
Whether you are trying to conceive naturally or preparing for IVF or IUI treatment, understanding your fertility blueprint BEFORE you being helps to further personalize a plan to optimize your reproductive health.
Why should you test your DNA before trying to conceive?
Genomic testing, used in Fern DNA, is a technology that is advancing precision medicine to reveal underlying causes of disease, optimize preconception treatments and fertility outcomes.
By understanding how genetic variations can impact your fertility and pregnancy, you can modify specific dietary, nutritional and supplement recommendations before trying to conceive. This way, you can individualize your preconception plan to ensure you are getting what you need.
What if I am already pregnant?
Fern DNA looks at genes that influence factors related to pregnancy and a healthy baby. For example, your test uncovers:
- The dose and form of nutrients important for the development of your baby, (essential for brain health, bone development)
- The dose and form of nutrients important to reduce risk of preterm labor, preeclampsia and other pregnancy complications
- The dose and form of nutrients important for reducing the chances of postpartum depression
- Your risk for gestational diabetes and the dietary guidelines to reduce this risk
- The factors that influence breast milk composition and prenatal health.
Will this tell me about the sex or genetic makeup of my future baby?
No. Fern DNA only looks at YOUR genetics. It helps you understand your body better for healthier preconception, conception, and pregnancy.
The Science Behind Fern DNA
What is genotyping?
Genotyping refers to the technology scientists use to detect specific genetic differences (variants) in your genetic make-up.
What technology do you use?
Scientists genotype the DNA using mass spectrometry to look at specific differences within the DNA, these types of differences include single nucleotide polymorphisms or SNPs, insertions and deletions (indels), and copy number variations (CNVs).
Your Report, Results and Fern DNA
How do I provide my DNA?
Your DNA will be collected (by you) through a simple, easy, and painless cheek swab.
What are the steps involved?
- Order kit online
- We send your kit in mail within 1-2 days
- Collect sample (cheek swab)
- Put in container (provided in kit with stabilizing solution)
- Fill out information on order form
- Mail back to lab using prepaid mailer
- Arrives at Fern DNA Labs
- De-identified sample sent to lab for processing
- You are notified that the report is ready
- You book your report interpretation with a Fern DNA genetic health advisor
- Fill out the consent and intake form before your consult
Receive a notice to create your online account to view your results using our HIPAA compliant platform at https://ferndna.dnalabs.ca/login
How long does it take to get my results?
Typically, you will receive your DNA test kit within a few days. Once you gather the sample, you can use the pre-paid return label to ship it to our labs. After the lab receives your test sample, it takes approximately 2 weeks to analyze the data and produce your report. Overall, the process takes 3-6 weeks from start to finish.
What happens after I get my results?
To get the most out of your personalized report, we include a 30-minute virtual, Results Review appointment with every test kit - at no additional charge. This virtual appointment is with a FERN DNA Genetics Advisor.
This appointment is important to give you a better understanding of how specific genetic results are impacting your current health. They will walk you through your personalized recommendations alongside your health history, current goals, and relevant information. From here, you will be given specific action items to follow up with. If a fertility ND referred you, they can also be sent a summary report.
Is this test covered by OHIP or health benefits?
No. This test is not covered by health insurance or OHIP.
Privacy and Fern DNA
What happens to my DNA after taking the test?
For privacy, all samples are de-identified, meaning there is no personal information associated with the DNA sample rather a unique identification code. For further protection, any personal information provided is encrypted and stored on a Canadian server that is separate from the genetic results. The de-identified genetic sample is sent to the US-based lab for processing and interpretation and destroyed after 6-months as per the lab policy. Results are provided on a secure HIPAA-compliant portal.
Is my DNA ever sold or shared?
No. Fern DNA takes privacy seriously and pledges never to share, sell or distribute genetic results.
Is my DNA protected?
Yes. The Canadian Bill S-201, also known as the Genetic Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), protects individuals’ genetic privacy and prevents genetic discrimination. This means that employers and insurance companies are prohibited from requiring an individual to undergo genetic testing or disclose the results.
In addition, the Canadian Privacy Act and Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) require Fern DNA to follow certain protocols to ensure the protection of your personal and genetic information. Personal data and de-identified genetic information are encrypted and kept on separate servers. Reports are delivered using a HIPAA-compliant web-based platform. The genetic sample is discarded after 6 months and is not sold, shared, or distributed to any outside parties. You have the right to ‘hare your data with your healthcare provider.
Can my online results be deleted after the test?
Yes. Fern DNA is committed to privacy. Your DNA sample and information from your DNA are your property and you have the right to request your information to be deleted from the servers once you have downloaded a PDF copy of your report.