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You’ve Tested With Ancestry DNA – Is There a Benefit in Testing With 23 and Me?

I’m really excited because today I just got the 23 and Me kits in the mail that I ordered for my parents.  This is a really big deal for me because I have been wanted them to do tests for a really long time, and we are finally doing it! 

Both of my parents have already done tests with Ancestry DNA, and this got me thinking about a really common question that I get here on this site.  People really want to know whether there is a benefit to testing with 23 and Me when they have already done DNA tests with Ancestry.

You've Tested With Ancestry DNA - Is There a Benefit in Testing With 23 and Me_

If you have read any other post on this site, you probably know that I am a huge fan of DNA testing and that I am probably going to tell you why you should test with 23 and Me even if you have already done Ancestry DNA. 

If you guessed that I would say this, then you are right!  In this post, I’m going to explain to you why I believe that doing a test with 23 and Me is a great move, even if you’ve already tested somewhere else (even Ancestry!).

It’s important to mention that my parents are doing 23 and Me even though they have tested with Ancestry and have followed my “Ultimate DNA Testing Strategy” and have uploaded their DNA to all of the most reputable sites that accept DNA transfers.

What am I expecting to learn from my parent’s 23 and Me results?

Note:  We decided to do the 23 and Me “Ancestry” tests, not the tests that provide ancestry plus health information.  My parents think it’s neat that we can learn health information from DNA testing, but they weren’t interested in trying it out for themselves.

What am I expecting to learn from my parent’s 23 and Me results?

In the sections below, I’ll share with you the reasons that my parents have decided to test with 23 and Me.  They have great reasons for wanting to do the test, but I am excited about it, too, and I want to tell you why.

In my 23andMe ancestry timeline, which comes with my ancestry composition report, there is a breakdown of how far back my ancestry came into my family lines.  For example, it shows that I have Eastern European ancestry that came in around the 1890s, which is exactly correct – according to my family tree research. 

Going back further, I am curious about the Balkan, Ashkenazi Jewish, and Finnish that showed up in my results.  I’m very excited about seeing which of my parents shows this ancestry and how far back it says it might be in their heritage.

There are some lines of my tree that are very difficult to trace, and so every little bit helps – even something like this ancestry timeline can help point me in the right direction.

Example of Ancestry timeline on 23 and Me

The other reason that I am really happy that my parents have decided to do this test has to do with a little-known feature of 23 and Me results that is a little bit on the technical side. 

23 and Me actually allows you to download data specifying exactly which DNA segments on which chromosomes (and which copy!) matches the ethnicity regions that show up in your ancestry composition report.  You can import this data into a chromosome mapping tool like DNA Painter

Yes, I know this is super nerdy but I am literally biting my nails with the anticipation.

Click here to buy the Understand Your DNA Results Ebook

My mom is testing with 23 and Me to find out if she has any DNA matches on the site

Over the past few years, my mom has discovered a few first cousins (on different lines of her family!) that she didn’t know about before taking a DNA test.  One of those cousins had tested with 23 and Me a few years ago and didn’t see any close matches. 

My mom realized that if she had tested with 23 and Me earlier, she might have been able to connect with her cousin years ago instead of months ago.

My mom’s cousin who had initially tested with 23 and Me grew up their entire life not knowing anything about one entire line of their family. 

Of course, once they tested with Ancestry and showed up as matches to us, we were thrilled to reach out to them and provide them with any family information that they were interested in, including photographs of their grandparents and aunts and uncles.  I only wish we would have been able to connect sooner.

Needless to say, the main reason that my mom wants to do this test is to see if it helps us find any family members that we had previously been unaware of.  I know that our DNA might be the key to helping a cousin find their biological family, and of course, I want to connect with and learn about as many family members as possible.

Ancestry DNA has the biggest private database of more than 10 million DNA testers, but that doesn’t mean that 23 and Me has a small database.  23 and Me has at least 5 million customers, and my mom and I are really excited to learn how many of these customers are DNA matches to us.

My dad is testing with 23 and Me to learn his Y-DNA and mtDNA haplogroups

My dad did his first DNA test with Ancestry DNA a couple of years ago, and has only been moderately interested in his results. 

He is more interested in history going back many hundreds of years, and so he was intrigued when he learned that the 23 and Me test could provide him with something that he had been wondering about:  his Y DNA and mtDNA haplogroups. 

My dad is one of those people that doesn’t like to get too involved with the details of family tree research.  He just wants to know the basics, and you can’t get more basic and less specific than a haplogroup!

This is one of the coolest reasons that my dad wanted to do this test.  He doesn’t have any male heirs or any brothers, and his father is no longer living.  My father is literally the last person that I am aware of who could take a test to get his Y DNA haplogroup. 

The Y-DNA haplogroup can help you trace your direct male line back many, many, many generations.  23 and Me doesn’t offer Y DNA matching, but they do tell you the haplogroup, which can occasionally reveal some unexpected or surprising information.

My dad will also get his mtDNA haplogroup, which tests his mother’s direct female line going back many tens of thousands of years.  Exactly how far back my dad’s mtDNA haplogroup will go is yet unclear, since I don’t have the results yet. 

No matter what, I am sure that the results will be interesting and can provide some direction in my work as our family tree researcher.  My mtDNA won’t be the same as my dad’s because I got it from my mother, and I don’t have Y DNA because I have two X chromosomes and no Y chromosome. 

Needless to say, I’m pretty excited about learning this new information about my dad’s family lines.

For those of you who aren’t sure how mtDNA and Y DNA haplogroups can help you with family tree research, I should mention that this type of information can help me verify my autosomal DNA research that I’ve already done on my family tree. 

For example, if know my dad’s Y DNA haplogroup, I could infer that his great-great-great grandfather on his direct male line also shared that haplogroup, and that a descendant of a direct male line from that ancestor should also share the haplogroup. 

If they don’t, then I need to figure out why not – they might not both be descended from the same male.  The same idea is true for mtDNA.

Should you test with 23 and Me, too?

Whether or not you should do a test with 23 and Me even though you already tested with another company depends on whether or not you want to do the test.  It’s completely up to you! 

Doing only one DNA test is absolutely fine, and you’ll learn a lot from your results.

If you are like me, though, and want to know literally everything that can be learned from your DNA, then I would totally recommend doing the 23 and Me test.  If you did the Ancestry DNA test, I’m sure you are very happy with your results (I love, love, love Ancestry DNA). 

But there are things you will get with your 23 and Me results that you won’t learn from Ancestry, and you will be able to get information from your 23 and Me results that can help you understand your Ancestry DNA results.

With DNA, everything can work together to help us create the most completely picture of our ancestry.


I hope that this post gave you some ideas as to what you might expect to learn from your 23 and Me results and how they might be different from Ancestry DNA – and different enough to make taking another test worthwhile. 

I’m super excited about my parent’ s 23 and Me DNA results, and I will be writing about them on this blog as soon as they come back.

If you have any questions about something that you read in this post today, I would love to hear from you in the comments.  If you are thinking about taking a 23 and Me test even though you tested somewhere else, I would love to hear your thoughts, too!

Thanks for stopping by 🙂

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