With more and more demand for affordable home DNA testing, the field of available tests keeps growing. Some offer more specialized results or the ability to purchase only the testing categories you desire, while others might undercut the bigger-name kits on price.
TellMeGen claims to offer the complete package, with both health/medical testing and ancestry results at a single purchase price. However, in practice, the service is clearly focused much more on the former than the latter, providing a long list of health traits and medical conditions with ample detail… and then barely scratching the surface with its simplistic ancestry results.
You’ll need to mail in a saliva sample for TellMeGen to analyze your DNA. Here’s what is in the kit:
- Saliva collection tube with DNA stabilizing solution
- Funnel top
- Plastic clamshell casing
- Prepaid return label
Collecting a sizable-enough sample for TellMeGen means spitting into the included plastic tube over and over again until you fill it to the line (not including bubbles). It took me a few solid minutes of conjuring up fluids to meet the quota, but at least it’s a straightforward request.
Having to unscrew the cap, screw on the funnel cap, and then unscrew the funnel and replace the original cap before mailing adds extra potential for fumbling the tube and potentially losing the free-floating stabilizing solution—so be careful with it. It’s not as clever as 23andMe’s tube, which has its solution sealed in the funnel cap and releases it into your saliva sample when you securely close it.
TellMeGen estimates that results will be available within four to six weeks of receiving the sample. I registered an account and my kit when preparing the sample, but did not receive any kind of email alert that my results were available. Five weeks after sending the sample, I logged into my account and found that the kit actually was not tied to the account, despite completing that step during initial registration.
Luckily, when I registered the kit again, the results were already available. Unfortunately, I don’t know exactly how long it took due to the kit registration mishap, but the turnaround still fell within the estimated window. Comparatively, I sent 23andMe and AncestryDNA samples back at the same time, and received results from both services in just over two weeks.
TellMeGen is an autosomal DNA test, much like 23andMe, AncestryDNA, and other popular tests, which analyzes the 22 pairs of autosomal chromosomes besides the X and Y sex chromosomes. According to the company, it can analyze more than 655,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs)—or DNA sequence variations—used to track biological differences as well as shared connections to relatives.
In my case, the results showed that I am 89 percent British; nearly 9 percent Russian: Adyghe people; and about 2 percent French: Basque. Both 23andMe and AncestryDNA likewise pointed to nearly 100 percent Northwestern European totals, but neither estimated that the vast majority of that was British. In fact, both of those tests demonstrated a lot more nuance in their estimations of my ancestors’ origins.
The percentage estimates are shown in a chart atop a map, but you can’t really do anything on the map except click on the highlighted countries. Flip over to the Details tab and you’ll find a little more information on each region—emphasis on “little.” Each explanation for my highlighted regions had just two to three sentences of information.
Thankfully, TellMeGen provides a fair bit more information in its health-related results, which are split into three categories: Complex Diseases, Inherited Conditions, and Traits. Under Complex Diseases, TellMeGen shows a list of conditions split between high-risk, low-risk, and typical-risk categories, with your risk percentage shown compared to the average.
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