Should You Check Your Fertility?
For some women, starting a family is a top priority. The joy of pregnancy and raising a child has been a life-long dream. For others, family planning is on the back burner. These women have other life goals and don’t expect to get pregnant until the mid to late-30s. Regardless of a woman’s intentions, fertility naturally declines with age. When some women are finally ready, getting pregnant will be significantly harder. Understanding reproductive health is one of the best ways to navigate family planning. Some fertility specialists will recommend an AMH check, a simple blood test to gauge the ovarian reserve.
Your ovarian reserve
Most women are born with many eggs, which scientists estimate to be about 1-2 million. The follicles develop and are released as part of the menstrual cycle every month. As women get older, this set reserve of eggs decreases. Egg quality also declines with age, so getting pregnant and staying pregnant is increasingly difficult. Some women also suffer from a diminished ovarian reserve, where the egg count is lower than expected for that age. A low ovarian reserve does not mean infertility but can reduce the chances of pregnancy.
Know your AMH
With men, fertility clinics can estimate sperm count, giving an idea of the man’s fertility. However, there is no objective test to tell the exact number of eggs in the ovarian reserve. The antimüllerian hormone (AMH) test is an effective technique to check a woman’s potential fertility. The tiny follicles secrete AMH in the ovaries, eventually growing into eggs. A woman’s AMH levels help determine the possible egg reserves.
Understanding the numbers
A fertility clinic can test AMH, and other hormones, with a simple blood test. The test will show if the AMH levels are normal or lower than expected. These levels can change due to factors like contraceptives, so the clinic may provide instructions to ensure the most accurate results. Most women have the highest AMH levels around age 25, as much as 5.0ng. From age 30 and beyond, these figures will decline. The measurements can differ with clinics, but, on average, an AMH of less than 1.0ng indicates a low ovarian reserve. From 3.5ng and above shows a healthy reserve. The clinic will compare the patient’s score to the average at that same age.
A low AMH is not an indicator of infertility. These figures should not be used as a final marker on if the patient could start a family or not. Instead, the AMH results are a guide to help patients make the right decision. For example, some women may decide to start a family earlier based on lower levels. Others may decide on egg freezing to preserve fertility. AMH can also determine the possible success rates of in vitro fertilization (IVF). If a woman has been having trouble getting pregnant, the AMH test can help to decide if assisted reproductive technology (ART) is best.
Information is ammunition
AMH is a hormone released by the follicles in the ovaries. The higher the number, the more likely the patient has a high ovarian reserve. At the same time, a low AMH does not fully determine fertility. AMH is expected to decline with age, and women can still have a healthy pregnancy. Women looking to be proactive can use the information for better family planning. Some may move ahead without contingencies. Others may decide to start a family earlier or look to other reproductive techniques. Whatever the decision, use the information to consult with a fertility specialist for the best course of action.