DNA Test Results: Why Check Them Often

Diahan Southard

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DNA test results are exciting to see for the first time–and can be even more interesting later on. Here’s why you’ll want to check on your AncestryDNA or other consumer DNA results every few months.

When’s the last time you checked your DNA test results? Has it been a minute? Maybe it’s time to look again.

Your DNA test results aren’t meant to be a once-and-done experience. Whether you tested at 23andMe, AncestryDNA, MyHeritage, Family Tree DNA or Living DNA, you will likely have more to learn as time goes on. Not just the ones you see when you first open them!

DNA Test Results: What To Look at Regularly

What should you look for when you log back in? Three things:

Email from your DNA matches

When you get contacted by a DNA match, you want to know about this as soon as possible! For many people, communicating with DNA matches is a fairly high priority. We want to learn what their matches may know about their common family history. Cousins may have family stories, photos or family tree data that we don’t. Some people also enjoy meeting long-lost relatives, or are actively searching for birth family connections.

Different DNA testing companies have different routes and settings for communicating with your DNA matches. Be sure your settings are such that you’re receiving immediate notice of these communications, wherever possible. You don’t want these contacts to go stale.

Communicating with DNA matches can be a little intimidating. Here at Your DNA Guide, we’ve had a lot of experience with these conversations! We’ve written a free guide to communicating with your DNA matches, and we’d love for you to have a copy.

Get my free guide to contacting DNA matches

New DNA matches

New DNA matches may show up at any time: whenever someone you’re related to takes a DNA test with the same company! People continue to take DNA tests all over the world. A cousin may test in a month, or in 6 months, or in 3 years. You just don’t know when that will be.

Check periodically for new matches, especially if you have a specific question you hope DNA will help answer, or if you’re trying to locate living relatives. Meanwhile, organize your current matches into which side of your family they fall on. That way, when you get new matches, it will be easier to see how this match may help you answer questions about your family tree.

When you log in to your testing company and go to your DNA match list page, here’s how you can quickly sort your DNA matches to see your newest ones:

  • 23andMe: Sort by > Newest relatives
  • AncestryDNA: Use the “Unviewed” filter
  • Family Tree DNA: Sort by > Most recent matches
  • Living DNA: Sort by > Newest first
  • MyHeritage: Sort by > Most recent

Again, once you FIND those new DNA matches, you’ll want to send an effective “hello” message they’re want to answer. Our free guide to contacting your DNA matches can help you set just the right tone!

Get my free guide to contacting DNA matches

Ethnicity results

You should know that your ethnicity estimates will change over time.

Does that sound weird? After all, the places your ancestors were from haven’t changed! But yes, your ethnicity estimates will change. That’s because, over time, more people from more places are taking DNA tests. This provides additional data for our testing companies, which causes them to update the way they assign ethnicity estimates every so often. This means that ethnicity results do change, and overall, are becoming more accurate and precise over time.

Of special note are AncestryDNA’s Genetic Communities, MyHeritage’s Genetic Groups and 23andMe’s Recent Ancestor Locations. These identify specific migratory groups or little tiny places with which your DNA is connected. Like Black Sea Germans in Ukraine and Russia; or County Dublin, Ireland; or Northern Lebanon/Northwest Syria. Be sure, if you’ve tested with these companies, that you’re looking closely at these!

Not sure you’re getting the most out of your DNA test results, or how to navigate your testing company website confidently? We can help! We have lots of resources specific to each DNA testing company. Check them out!

Help me navigate my DNA testing company!

 

<a href="https://www.yourdnaguide.com/author/guideyourdnaguide-com" target="_self">Diahan Southard</a>

Diahan Southard

As founder and CEO of Your DNA Guide, Diahan Southard has been teaching people how to find family history answers in their DNA for several years, and she's been in the genetic genealogy field since its infancy. Diahan teaches internationally, writes for popular magazines, consults with leading testing companies, is author of Your DNA Guide–The Book, and producer of Your DNA Guide–the Academy, an online learning experience.

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3 Comments

  1. Nancy

    I would like help in understanding my DNA matches. The 3 people (siblings to each other) that I share the most DNA with 7-9% do not share any DNA with my known maternal 1st cousins. These 3 persons can not be related through my father’s side as my DNA ancestry is approx 50% Northern European (English, French) and 50% Italian. My maternal grandparents are Italian. The 3 unknown “cousins” have 94% Italian ancestry. How can I share so much DNA with these 3 siblings and yet they have no DNA relationship to my maternal 1st cousins. Any information you can provide would be greatly appreciated. This has me quite baffled.
    Thank you. Nancy

    Reply
    • Danielle Francis

      Hi Nancy, Do you have any shared matches with these 3 mystery cousins? That will give you clues as to which line they are related to. Since they’re sharing with your mom’s side you can rule that side out, do you have cousins on your paternal side you can compare them with. Ethnicity results are not always as straightforward as they seem, you can learn more about how ethnicity results are calculated here: https://www.yourdnaguide.com/ethnicity-estimate. If you’re still stumped, I would recommend checking out one of our mentoring sessions (https://www.yourdnaguide.com/thementor).
      -Dani with Your DNA Guide

      Reply
    • Diahan Southard

      Hi Nancy.
      Interesting situation. I would want to look at the data myself to be certain. My first question would be for you to check genetics vs genealogy with your cousins. That means, are they sharing the right amount of DNA with you for them to be the kinds of cousins that they are? Like if they are first cousins, I would expect them to share like 800 cM. This is something we could cover in a DNA mentoring session, if you want a more thorough analysis. http://www.yourDNAguide.com/thementor.

      Reply

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