DNA genealogy testing can tell us a lot about our ancestors and help us with our family history research. In this 23andMe DNA test review I will discuss what you can expect from 23andMe and also explore the additional health screening that you can opt for as well. Interested? Then please read on.
23andMe DNA Testing Details:
|Type of Test||Autosomal (atDNA), Mitochondrial (mDNA) and Y-Chromosome (yDNA)|
|Offered Health Screening||Yes|
|How Tested||Cheek swab|
|Results Waiting Time||6-8 Weeks|
|Normal Price||$99 (Ancestry test) – $199 (Ancestry test and health screening)|
|Additional Cost||$9.95 for shipping and handling – $36.95 for express post|
|Available In||United States, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, Sweden, Republic of Ireland, United Kingdom|
|Other countries available||Countries 23andMe Ship To!|
|Place To Buy||Amazon|
|Also available for Amazon Prime customers!|
|Bottom Line||Bonus Health Screening|
Beginning your DNA family history journey!
Are you well on your way to discovering your family history? Exciting isn’t it?
I bet that you have found so many interesting ancestors of yours and learned all sort of fascinating information. You may have discovered where they came from, where they worked and what occupation they did in order to earn a living.
But have you hit a brick wall in your genealogy research? Or do you want to go further with your family tree?
Where does DNA testing come in and how can 23andMe help you?
23andMe is just one DNA testing companies that you can find more about your ancestors from. I will compare the other companies to 23andMe to show you whether this company is right for you.
Some of the major genealogy sites such as Ancestry and MyHeritage took the next step and offered DNA testing. 23andMe is different however as this company was initially set up to test your DNA.
They do offer some genealogical services, but not as much as the other companies. So in that respect 23andMe fails.
But the plus side of this company is that they offer you a health screening as well as DNA testing.
Topics discussed in this post:
- What Is DNA Genealogy Testing?
- The Competition
- How To Take The Test and Getting Your Results
- Finding Your Ethnicity and Learning About Your Health
- Your 23andMe DNA Matches – Making New Connections
- Learning About Your Haplogroup
- What About Your Privacy and Is Your Information Secure?
- Other Peoples 23andMe DNA Testing Reviews
- Pros and Cons
- My Final Thoughts
When you have finished reading this review why not check out The Best DNA Test For You To Buy guide where I cover the 5 best DNA testing kits on the market today!
What Is DNA Genealogy Testing?
DNA as you may very be aware of is inside of us, in all of us. It is also in every living organism on the planet. But do you know what the letters DNA actually stand for?
Well, just for your curiosity it stands for deoxyribonucleic acid, and it is a self-replicating material.
Now that you know what it stands for I will know ask you another question. Do you know what it does?
Well to put it simply the DNA that can be found in our cells are basically a set of instructions. So these instructions are the building blocks as you were. They can tell us what color eyes we have or the color of our skin.
If we look a little closer at these instructions there are markers. And these markers are unique to every single one of us. Unless we are twins. So they can tell us apart from each of us.
They can also give us clues to our family’s past. Our ancestors.
3 different types of DNA testing!
- Autosomal DNA testing (atDNA) – All of the major DNA testing companies will offer this most basic of tests. This test is available for males and females and can tell us about our paternal and maternal lines.
- Mitochondrial DNA testing (mtDNA) – This test will provide you with results for your maternal line.
- Y-Chromosome DNA testing (yDNA) – This test will provide you with results for your paternal line.
23andMe do offer each of the three different DNA tests. However, most of the results that you will receive will be based on your autsomal test results. Because of this you may want to look at other companies that offer full mtDNA and yDNA testing.
Autosomal DNA Testing Overview
Autosomal DNA testing can help you if:
- You want to trace your most recent ancestors, up to about four or five generations but can be as many as ten generations back.
- You want to find and meet distant cousins who share a common ancestor.
- You want to discover your origins, i.e. which region or area your ancestors came from.
Autosomal DNA testing is a popular choice or rather a standard test that we can all take. The accuracy of these results decline the further back the generations that you go.
But why is that?
Well let me explain. This test as I have said looks at both sides of your family. So if you look at your genes you get half from your father and half from your mother. No revelations there.
The genes are what carry a snippet of your parents DNA.
But if you look further back you will see that you get 1/4 from each of your grandparents and 1/8 from each of your great grandparents.
These results will get diluted the further you go back in time. If you go back five generations to your 3rd great grandparents the level of genes is 1/64. And this is about as far up your family tree that you can accurately go back to.
Please check out the Unexpected Ethnicity Results post from Ancestry which goes further into detail about this.
Mitochrondrial DNA Testing Overview
Mitochrondrial testing can help you if:
- You want to discover your maternal line, where you can look at your lineage as many as 25 generations, even more in some cases.
- You want to know the region where your maternal line ancestors came from.
This test is available for both males and females, but it will only look at your maternal lineage. It will look at the DNA that has been passed from mother to child.
Despite only looking at your maternal line you can surprisingly go quite far back with this test compared to autosomal testing.
Contacting distant cousins is also quite possible with this type of testing, although they may very well be very, very distant.
Y-Chromosome DNA Testing Overview
Y-Chromosome testing can help you if:
- You want to know about your male lineage, as far back as 25 generations and even more is possible.
- You want to discover relatives that share the same surname as yours.
- You want to learn about what region your paternal line ancestors came from.
If you are interested about your family name then this type of testing is for you. This is because, as I have said, this type of testing will look at your male ancestral line.
Another resource that is available to you is an organization called The Guild of One Name Studies. They specialize in the study of surnames.
Many members that have joined share their research and also can learn more about their surname. Sometimes they may even make contact with a distant cousin
As yDNA looks at your paternal line this type of testing is only suitable for males. Women though can still get results from this if they ask a male relative to take the test.
So this could be your father, your brothers (and their sons), or your father’s brothers (and their sons). Be aware though that your own son, (if you have one) will not be able to take test.
DNA testing is another tool in your arsenal that you can take to discover more about your ancestors. It is also regarded as the next step that the family historian can take.
This type of testing can help you connect with distant cousins. And the great thing about this is that you can get even further information from them that will help with your own research.
Genealogy is a hobby that we can all share. For example, other people (like me) can share with you tips and techniques that they have learned on their own family history journey.
But also cousins can share with you their research and help you fill in the blanks with your family tree. How cool is that?
I have mentioned that the results that you receive for both mtDNA and yDNA may not be solely accurate, (as they are based on your atDNA results).
The advantage of 23andMe is though that they offer health screening, which is not provided for by other DNA testing companies.
Comparing The Competition!
|23andMe||Ancestry DNA||Family Tree DNA||Living DNA||MyHeritage DNA|
|Tests||atDNA, mDNA and yDNA||atDNA||atDNA, mDNA and yDNA||atDNA, mDNA and yDNA||atDNA|
|How Tested||Cheek swab||Saliva||Cheek swab||Cheek swab||Cheek swab|
|Results Waiting Time||6-8 Weeks||6-8 Weeks||6-8 Weeks||10-12 Weeks||3-4 Weeks|
|Available||US, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, Sweden, Republic of Ireland, UK||US, UK and Australia||US, UK and worldwide||US, Canada, UK, Europe and Australia||US, UK, Australia and worldwide|
|Bottom Line||Bonus Health Screening||Most Popular||Potential For More||Most Comprehensive Testing||Quick Results|
23andMe vs. Ancestry DNA
Ancestry DNA only currently offer the autosomal test. So you can learn more about your ancestors through 23andMe.
23andMe will offer you results for all three tests for a similar price. So you will get more for your money if you go with this company.
However, if you do decide to go with Ancestry DNA then you will be plugged into to 8 billion or so records that are available at Ancestry. 23andMe has no database of genealogical records that you can look at.
You will though need to be paid member to Ancestry in order to gain access to this valuable resource.
Despite having to pay for this further information I will say that Ancestry have helped me immensely when it comes to discovering my ancestors and helping me build my family tree.
23andMe vs. Family Tree DNA
Like 23andMe Family Tree DNA offer you the three different kinds of tests, but you are offered a choice as to which test, or tests that you want to go for.
If you do though want to be tested on all three tests at a cheaper price then 23andMe is the one for you. Although your results will not be as accurate compared to Family Tree DNA.
The other advantage of opting for Family Tree DNA is that they have a very large community of family historians and professional genealogists who can help you with your research. Family Tree also has genealogical records that you can access to help you build your family tree.
23andMe vs. Living DNA
These two DNA testing companies are similar when it comes to what tests are offered. Both of them will conduct atDNA, mtDNA, and yDNA tests against your sample.
You will though have to wait about a month longer for your Living DNA test results (10-12) to be returned compared to 23andMe (6-8 weeks). Even though you do have to wait longer you will get more thorough results. But you will be paying a dearer price for this.
One advantage of choosing 23andMe is the fact that you can also opt for a health screening, (extra cost). If you are interested in your ancestry and your health then 23andMe is the test for you.
But if you are more interested in your genealogy and want to get extensive results then I would recommend Living DNA.
23andMe vs. MyHeritage DNA
Similar to Ancestry MyHeritage DNA only currently offers autosomal testing. For a similar price that you would be charged for with MyHeritage DNA you can get all three tests if you go with 23andMe.
One advantage of MyHeritage DNA is the large collection of genealogical records that you can access, (not as much as Ancestry though). And there is also a large community of people that can help with any of your genealogy queries.
How To Take The Test and Getting Your Results
Ordering the DNA testing from 23andMe is a simple process. Just go to the Amazon website and select whether you want the full Ancestry test, or the Ancestry test with the health screening combined as well.
It is entirely up to if you want the health screening or not. There is no need to worry if you do decide to have the screening after you have taken the test. You will not have to take the DNA test again as they already have a sample of your DNA to work with.
The only real advantage of ordering both at the same time is that you will save money. About $25 or so.
After you have ordered and paid for the test you can expect to receive your DNA kit a few days later.
Your kit will include a set of instructions that you will need to follow so that you will get the best set of possible results. Included in your kit is a saliva collection tube with a funnel and a specimen bag that you will need to return with your sample inside.
To get a sample of your DNA you will need to swab your cheek which you will then need to put in the tube provided.
DO NOT eat or drink 30 minutes prior to taking the test. Also do not smoke or chew gum. Doing so will effect the accuracy of your results.
The form of testing is a cheek swab, where you will just swab the inside of your cheek with a tip.
Getting your results!
Before you do send of your sample it is important to link the barcode found on your tube sample to your 23andMe account. Creating your account is really simple and is totally free!
After you have done that just pop the tube in the bag provided and send it off. It will then take approximately 6-8 weeks for your results arrive.
Expect an email in your inbox to notify you that your results are ready to be viewed.
If you do opt for more than one kind of test then expect your results to come at different times. So if you get one and not the other don’t be alarmed as the other test WILL be on its way in due course.
Please be advised hat purchasing outside of the United States will mean that you will have to pay additional shipping costs.
Finding Your Ethnicity and Learning About Your Health
Discovering your roots can be an exciting adventure. You may already think that you know where you came from. So when the results come and it shows you something completely different it opens up interesting questions that you thought that you would never ask.
Learning about where we came from is an important of genealogy. And with 23andMe you can do just that.
What’s pretty cool is that you can also make connections with distant relatives.
Discovering where we came from and making new connections is all part of autosomal testing.
The mitochondrial and Y-chromosome testing will help you explore your maternal and paternal ancestry respectively. These tests will provide you with your haplogroup, (more on this later).
Your 23andMe Reports – Health Screening and Ancestry
First let us look at what health screening reports are offered by 23andMe.
As I mentioned earlier it is entirely up to you whether you also opt for the health screening tests as well as the Ancestry report. If you do decide to go for the health screening you can expect to find out if you have genetic variants that will make you susceptible for certain diseases.
4 types of 23andMe reports (Health Screening):
- Genetic Health Risks – Will show you if you have any genetic variants that are risk factors for various health conditions.
- Carrier Status – Can show you if you have any genetic variants that have been linked to recessive conditions.
- Wellness – Shows you how your DNA can affect your body’s response to environmental factors, such as diet and lifestyle.
- Traits – Tells you about your genetic variants that may affect different non-health related traits.
There are dozens of health checks that they will test for! These will look at genetic conditions and predispositions.
A condition means that you have it and you can pass it on to your children. A predisposition means that you are more likely to develop it than other people.
Please note that you should consult your doctor about any health or medical concerns that you have. You can take along your results to the doctor so that you can show him or her.
Compared to Ancestry DNA which breaks the world into 26 different regions, 23andMe on the other hand will break down your DNA over 31 regions. So that means you can get a better picture as to where in the world you came from.
This is a great tool for any family historian as it can show you where you can concentrate your research, i.e. where in the world that you need to find your ancestors.
The results for each region are broken down into percentages. So a higher percentage for a particular region will mean that most of your DNA comes from that area.
This as I said earlier can then help you to zone into those locations so that you can unearth more information about your ancestors.
If you wish you can also download your results as well.
Your 23andMe DNA Matches – Making New Connections
One of the great advantages of DNA testing is that you can make contact with relatives. So not only can you find out where in the world that you came from but you can also find your distant cousins.
These contacts are a great way for you to learn more about your common ancestor, (as long as they are not too distant). Therefore the role that this feature of DNA testing is very beneficial.
The great thing about genealogy is that it is a hobby where we all help each other. Every cousin that I have made contact with along my family history journey has been most helpful to me.
They have helped me fill in the gaps of my knowledge that needed it. I would have spent a considerable amount of time trying to get that information on my own. Not to mention money as well.
But also genealogy is a pay-it-forward type pastime. So return the compliment and share with your cousin what you know.
Please note that you will only see people that you are related to because they wish to share their information. That means therefore that there maybe 23andMe out there that are cousins but they wish to remain private.
How to make contact with your DNA matches!
Using the DNA Relatives tool will allow you to make contact with your distant relative provided that they are already a member of 23andMe.
What I really like about this tool is that not only can it show you what other 23andMe member is a relative but it can also show you what type of cousin, i.e. 2nd cousin, 3rd, 4th, 5th and so on. And it can show you whether they are related to you on your father’s or mother’s side.
Knowing which side of the family that you are connected is a good start. You will though need to work together to find out how exactly that you are connected. Once you have done that then you can help each other fill in the gaps of knowledge in your family tree.
And the second thing that I find exciting about this tool is the possibility of connecting with new members who take the test. As the 23andMe database of members grows there is a chance that you new connections will be made.
That means that the longer that you are a part of 23andMe the more chance that you will find more and more relatives.
Messaging your cousin!
23andMe allows you to contact each other via a message box. Just select which ever relative that you want to contact and then enter your message. Then click on send and wait for their reply.
Learning About Your Haplogroup!
If you are a male then your haplogroup can tell you where your maternal and paternal ancestors came from. However, if you are a female then you will only know about your maternal ancestors.
This all comes down to X and Y chromosomes. Only males will inherit the Y-chromosome from their father so therefore they can discover their paternal ancestry.
You can still learn about your paternal ancestry if you are female. You just need to get a male relative to take the test.
Haplogroups can tell you where in the world you originated from at a particular moment in time. So technically you could learn about your ancestors as far back as 10,000 to even 75,000.
Although pretty cool it won’t help you much with your genealogy research. But you can still learn amount more recent generations as well, between 2 and 3 and as much as ten.
Each haplogroup is assigned a letter and number to denote where in the world that your ancestors came from. So for example haplogroup A and B shows that your ancestors came from Africa.
What About Your Privacy and Is Your Information Secure?
The barcode that you are provided with when you take the test will help you to set up your 23andMe account. It will also help you remain anonymous when the scientists in the lab run tests on your sample.
That means that they cannot link you and your details to your test results!
23andMe takes your privacy very seriously. They will never share your information with any third party company.
They will even allow you to choose whether you want any other 23andMe member from seeing your information.
Please be advised though that if you do opt out of being public on the 23andMe website then you will not be able to make contact with any possible relative. And they will not be able to contact you.
The security of your information is also a paramount concern for 23andMe. That is why they provide secure and encrypted website where you can access and maintain your information safely and securely.
Other Peoples 23andMe DNA Testing Reviews
So there you have, the 23andMe experience in a nutshell. Or rather that is what you can expect from this DNA testing company and what I think about it.
But what do other people think of 23andMe?
Are you going to take just my word on it? Probably not!
So why not head over to DNA Testing Choice where you can find out what more than 200 customers thought about the 23andMe testing and results experience.
I will say though that most people did rate 23andMe very highly. The majority were happy with the results and some were even astonished as to what came up in their results.
However, that is not to say that there were a few people that were not happy with the results or the experience.
Unexpected ancestry in their DNA test results!
Some claimed that the results they received did not show ancestry that they had hoped to find. For example, no hint of Italian ancestry even though their 2nd great grandfather came from Naples, Italy.
Other concerns were the broadness of the results. These people wanted more detailed results, i.e. wanted the Northwest European region of their ancestry to be more specific.
I can understand the frustration with these concerns. I do feel though that as the science behind DNA testing improves then this will mean much better and detailed results in the future.
Other people though were happy with the depth of information that was returned to them. So it’s really a matter of how much you are expecting from your results and what you intend doing with them.
Pros and Cons
✔ Breaks down DNA into 31 regions, (compared to Ancestry’s 23 regions)
✔ Ancestry test and also health screening provided
✔ Get ethnicity estimates about your ancestors
✔ Get connected with distant cousins via website messenger
✔ Break down brick walls and build an impressive family tree with help from results and your DNA matches
❌ No connection with genealogy search sites so you cannot get access to genealogical records
❌ Smaller database of members compared to Ancestry
My Final Thoughts
DNA genealogy testing can tell you a lot about your ancestors. It can tell you where you need to look, and with help from your DNA matches you can fill in the blanks in your family tree.
It is a pretty impressive tool for anyone wanting to know more about their family history.
23andMe is different to all the other DNA testing companies as they offer health screening as well. It does cost more if you wish to opt for this but it is well worth the money, particularly if you think about the thousands of dollars that you may have to spend further down the road.
Through this screening you can find out whether you have any genetic conditions, and whether you could pass it onto your children as well.
I do like how you can also connect with your DNA matches and 23andMe make it terribly easy to do so. Although it is up to you and other members if you want to take advantage of this feature.
A word of caution though. If you do opt out then you are doing your genealogy research a disservice as you will not be able to connect with your distant cousins and get help with learning about your family history.
Do I recommend 23andMe?
Yes I certainly do. If you want to know more about your ancestry then yes I do suggest that you go and buy 23andMe. The added health screening is also a must if you are not only concerned with your past but also your present and future.
Thank You and Please Leave A Comment
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