23andMe DNA Review



When I was searching for my birth family, I used 23andMe in addition to the other main DNA testing sites.  At the time I used 23andMe, the health reports were not available and the price was $99.  Now the DNA tests come with health reports and testing costs $199. In some countries where the health reports aren’t allowed an “ancestry only” report is available for $99. 23andMe is available in 56 countries.

“The first and only genetic service available directly to you that includes reports that meet FDA standards for being clinically and scientifically valid.” is how 23andMe is marketing themselves now.  Their emphasis seems to be more on the health reports than making it easy for people to find DNA matches and connect with family.  When I used 23andMe, I had a couple of hundred DNA matches but very few had their names, emails, or a way to contact them.  You can send matches a request to share information, but very few would share.  There are very few family trees on 23andMe to look at like on Ancestry.  I belong to several genetic genealogy groups and the common thought is that many of the people that tested on 23andMe originally when they first started joined for the health reports.  Most were not looking for family connections or genealogy information like the people on Ancestry.  There is a common thread of frustration with 23andMe DNA matches not responding to requests for information. I had 2 people respond out of about 40 DNA relatives and all but one would only share their DNA.  They would not share any family tree information, names, or information that would have helped me.  Adoption groups say to expect about 1 reply out of 50 on 23andMe but contacting 50 people on Ancestry would probably get you 45 replies.

23andMe also has training videos but they are hard to get to from the main site.  The tutorials are animated and simple and good for a beginner.

Reports generated by 23andMe include Carrier Status Reports (if you carry a gene for a known condition like Sickle Cell Anemia), Ancestry Reports like Ancestry location and DNA relatives,  Wellness reports (lactose intolerance, Caffine consumption, etc), and Trait Reports (hair, eyes, skin).  The website is full of reports and information about your health and offers a Chromosome Browser that will let you compare segments with your DNA matches if you can get your DNA Matches to give their permission. They test for 577,382 autosomal SNP’s compared to about 690,000 at the other 2 main testing sites. They test for 2329 Y Chromosome SNP’s and 19,487 X chromosome SNP’s.

23andMe Website Update

Downloads have been temporarily paused as part of the transition to the new site. You will be able to download both your match list and the comparison information – including segment start and stop points – from the DNA View. This makes it harder to use for those looking for family. In the DNA View and in Share and Compare, your matches are listed in sets with the option to select matches from that list. However for profiles that have extensive lists of shares, the loading and selecting is not easy or efficient at the moment.  Currently there is not a way to signal new matches.  According to 23andMe,  a recency sort will be added to DNA Relatives, in addition to the Notifications that will let you know when you have new matches, invitations, or messages.

My opinion about testing at 23andMe if you are adopted and looking for your family is to make it your third choice for testing.  If price is no object, then it is definitely worth the money and you should do it.  If you are on a budget, go with AncestryDNA first if your priority is finding family.  As an adoptee, I know how important it is to find our medical history and know more about any possible medical issues.  If that is a priorty, then buy your kit today, you won’t be disappointed by the reports. 23andMe also has training videos but they are hard to get to from the main site.

About the author


I found my birth family after 40 years of looking for them. I used DNA tests, software to sort DNA match results, family trees, contacting DNA matches and several website tools. We want to provide you a "one stop shop" with all your resources to help YOU find YOUR family.

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