What to Do When You Have a Haemolysed Blood Sample
With any type of blood collection, haemolysed blood samples can happen. They are very common—in fact, they are actually the number one cause of rejected samples by labs, second only to insufficient sample size (1).
But we know it can be frustrating to hear that your sample couldn’t be analysed—especially if you’re someone who doesn’t like having blood taken.
In this blog post we will walk you through what happens if your Hertility at-home hormone testing kit comes back with a haemolysed blood sample, what happens during lab tests affected by hemolysis and our top tips for taking and sending off your samples to ensure your hormone blood test results don’t come back haemolysed.
- What is a haemolysed sample?
- What causes haemolysed samples?
- Can my sample be analysed if it’s haemolysed?
- Top tips for taking your sample
What does it mean when a blood sample is haemolysed?
A haemolysed blood sample is when the red blood cells in the sample you provided have burst or broken down.
This process is called haemolysis—the red blood cells rupture and spill their contents, mainly haemoglobin (a protein that carries oxygen around your body) into their surrounding serum or plasma.
Haemolysed samples are unable to be tested and labs will reject and request new samples. This is because analytes that are tested for in the sample will potentially have become diluted by haemolysis and an accurate result will not be able to be obtained.
What causes a haemolysed blood sample?
Haemolysis can happen with any form of blood collection, whether it’s a finger prick sample like the one used in our at-home Hormone & Fertility Test or a traditional venous blood drawn by a nurse or doctor. It can also happen regardless of where the sample was taken.
Samples can become haemolysed for a number of different reasons, but here are some common ones we’ve found with our tests.
Haemolysed blood could be caused by:
- If you squeezed your finger too hard during the collection process
- If the collection tube is shaken vigorously after your sample is collected
- If there is a long delay between collection time and analysis
- If your sample is left outside in the postbox for a prolonged period, especially during very hot or cold temperatures
Can my sample be analysed if it’s haemolysed?
Unfortunately, no. Because the red blood cells have broken down, the hormones within the sample can’t be analysed.
We know this can be really disappointing and frustrating. So, if your sample has come back haemolysed, we will send you a second test kit, free of charge, for you to retake your sample.
All you need to do is log in to your health hub, navigate to your tests and click on the notification we’ve sent you. We will have already credited your account with a free test, so all you need to do is check out.
Top tips for taking your sample
Sometimes haemolysis can happen because of the way your blood sample was collected or packaged. We’ve put together a few tips and tricks to help you get your sample to us safe and sound.
Top tips for preventing hemolysis when taking your blood sample:
1. Slow it right down
Take your time when taking your sample, don’t rush through or squeeze your finger really hard. Use gentle downward strokes to encourage blood flow.
2. Make sure your hands are warm
Warm hands = more blood circulation. This means it will be easier to draw your sample. Submerge your hand in warm water for a couple of minutes before collecting your sample to get that blood pumping all the way to your fingers.
3. Use your ring finger
This one usually works the best, giving the biggest drops. Make sure you prick the fleshy part.
4. Always wipe away the first droplet
Use a tissue or sterilised wet wipe to wipe the first drop clean, before aiming the rest of your drops into your collection tube.
5. Pierce a second finger if the blood stops flowing on the first
Don’t overdo it on the first finger, if the blood flow stops, start fresh on a new finger.
6. Use the cartwheel method
Take your arm that is not being used for the sample (we don’t want an American psycho situation up the walls) and swing in a cartwheel motion for about a minute. Don’t ask why, but it works.
7. Get your blood pumping with some star jumps
Bring back some P.E class nostalgia star jump it out for a minute or so before you take your sample. This will get your blood flowing and your fingers warm.
8. Make sure you’re hydrated
Everyone is more dehydrated than usual when first waking up which can make circulation slower and collecting your sample more difficult. Stay hydrated the day before you’re due to collect your sample and drink a couple of glasses of water roughly half an hour beforehand.
Top tips for preventing hemolysis when packing your blood sample
1. Do not shake your tube after collecting your sample
Place your tube carefully back into your kit box, into the space indicated. This will keep it wedged safely in place during transit.
2. Post your sample on the same day it was collected
Ideally you’ll do your test first thing in the morning. Then, keep it at room temperature and post it to your nearest postbox as close to the collection time as you can. This will reduce the time it’s outside for, potentially getting hot in the sun or too cold.
3. Use a priority postbox if you can
These are collected everyday, you can find your nearest one on the Royal Mail website.
4. Check our social channels for lab closures and postal service delays
We regularly post or email reminders about upcoming lab closures, postal strikes and delays due to public holidays on our stories, make sure you’re following us and check our socials before doing your test.
How will I know if my sample arrives haemolysed?
Rest assured, we will always contact you directly if your sample arrives haemolysed. One of our customer service team will be in touch.
Will I get another test free of charge if my sample is haemolysed?
Our labs will inform us, we will contact you to let you know and will offer a second kit free of charge to redo your test
Do I have to wait until day 3 of my cycle before I can test again?
Unless you’re on hormonal contraception, unfortunately yes, you will have to wait until your next cycle to test again. We know, this can be really frustrating, but this is so you can get an accurate measurement of all of your hormone levels.
I’m still struggling to get a sample, what can I do?
If you’re struggling to draw enough blood, or you’ve had a sample come back as haemolysed and want a little extra help, we can send a nurse out to take your sample for you. This can be booked for £79 by getting in touch with our customer service.
- With any type of blood collection, haemolysed samples can happen
- This is when the red blood cells burst or break down, meaning your sample is damaged and can not be analysed
- We will always contact you to let you know if your sample comes back haemolysed, and will offer a second kit free of charge to redo your test
- Check out our tips on how to take your sample and post it back, hopefully avoiding haemolysis