ovarian-reserve-tests

Ovarian Reserve Tests

Ovarian reserve testing can tell you whether you have a good supply of healthy eggs in your ovaries. You can use the results to make better decisions about your fertility. If your ovarian reserve is lower than expected for someone of your age then you might decide to start trying for a family now rather than waiting. The results can also enable you to make the right choices about fertility treatment, including whether you should consider using an egg donor if your ovarian reserve is very low.

What Are Ovarian Reserve Tests?

The ovarian reserve test is a blood test that can check how many eggs remain in a woman’s ovaries. The number of eggs can’t be counted directly, but the test can measure the levels of certain hormones that are related to the size of the ovarian reserve. The reason this test is important is that the number of eggs in the ovaries declines over time.

Women are born with all of their eggs already formed in the ovaries. One or two of these eggs will mature and be released during every period, reducing the numbers that are left over time. The other eggs in the ovaries will also be lost gradually, without becoming mature eggs. If this happens too quickly, there might not be enough healthy eggs to ensure that a mature egg is always ready to be released at ovulation. Your chances of conceiving will then be reduced because there might not be an egg available to be fertilised every month. The ovarian reserve test can check whether there are still plenty of eggs left in the ovaries to allow you to conceive naturally or to use your own eggs for IVF treatment.

Who Should Have an Ovarian Reserve Test?

The ovarian reserve test will tell you whether you have a good supply of healthy eggs in your ovaries. The test results can help you to make better decisions about when to have children and indicate whether you might need some extra help to get pregnant. You might want to have an ovarian reserve test if you’re thinking about the future and wondering if it is alright to wait to have children. You can also have the test if you’re ready to try for a baby now and you want to know your current fertility levels. The test might also be recommended as part of a full fertility assessment if you’ve been having trouble conceiving or you’re considering IVF treatment.

The results of the ovarian reserve test can provide insight into how many years of fertility you have ahead of you, although there are other factors that will influence this too. The results of the ovarian reserve test can’t guarantee that you will be able to get pregnant naturally or with your own eggs. However, the ovarian reserve check can help to determine which types of fertility treatment are right for you and whether you might need to consider using an egg donor.

You may also want to have other fertility tests, such as ovulation tests or a tubal patency test, at the same time as there are other factors that can affect your chances of conceiving too.

What Does an Ovarian Reserve Test Involve?

The ovarian reserve test is a simple blood test. A small sample of blood will be taken, usually from a blood vessel near the inside of your elbow. The test is relatively painless, although you may feel a pinch as the needle goes in. The blood sample will be sent to the lab for testing.

The levels of certain hormones in your blood can give us a good idea of how many healthy eggs are in your ovaries. Anti-Mullerian Hormone or AMH is produced by the follicles in your ovaries. If the levels are lower than expected, it suggests that there aren’t as many developing eggs as usual for someone of your age. Your doctor might also recommend an ultrasound to check on your ovaries. The scan can reveal how many follicles are maturing and check that they are being released as expected at ovulation. The results of these tests can reveal how likely you are to get pregnant.

Results

The results of the ovarian reserve test should be ready within a few days, depending on the clinic where you are having it done. The results will tell you the level of hormones such as AMH in your bloodstream and whether they are normal for someone in your age range. The results can help your doctor to estimate the remaining number of fertile years in which you will have a good chance of conceiving using your own eggs.

If the results show that you have a good ovarian reserve then there should be plenty of eggs available for natural or assisted fertilisation. However, there may be other factors that could affect your chances of getting pregnant. A full fertility assessment will help to identify these so that can make better informed decisions about your reproductive health.

If the results reveal that there is a problem with your ovarian reserve then the chances of conceiving using your own eggs are lower. Treatment with fertility drugs or IVF may help, but you might also need to consider using an egg donor to have a baby.

You will need to discuss the results in detail with your doctor in order to understand the implications for your fertility. The doctor will advise you on what your next steps could be.

How Can We Help?

Our experienced fertility specialists can help you to make the right choices about fertility testing. We can arrange ovarian reserve tests and other checks in the UK or overseas. We can also advise you on the next steps if any issues are detected, including IVF treatment if you need some extra help to get pregnant.

If you would like to arrange ovarian reserve testing or other fertility checks, get in touch to discuss the options with one of our experts. We’ll help you to get the tests you need to make informed choices about your fertility and IVF treatment.

Ovarian Reserve Test FAQs

The ovarian reserve test is a blood test that measures the levels of certain hormones. The most common test looks at the level of Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) but Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and oestradiol may be measured too. Your doctor might also recommend an ultrasound scan to count the developing follicles in the ovaries. The results enable your fertility specialist to estimate how many eggs are left in your ovaries and how likely you are to conceive with your own eggs in the future. It can help your doctor to estimate when you may start to enter the menopause. However, it does not count the number of eggs directly and it doesn’t take into account any other factors that could affect your fertility.

The ovarian reserve test is performed just like any other blood test. A small sample will be taken from a blood vessel in your elbow using a needle. It will then be sent to the lab for testing.

Blood tests are very safe. You might feel a small amount of pain as the needle goes in and there could be a small bruise left behind afterwards. It is important to be aware of what the test results could reveal about your fertility before you have the test as it could have a big impact on your decisions.

The ovarian reserve are the immature eggs that are present in the ovaries. All of the eggs that a woman will produce in her lifetime are formed while she is still in the womb. The number of eggs will then decline gradually throughout her lifetime. Although women have many more eggs than they will use, the quality of the eggs can also decline with age. The more eggs that remain in the ovaries, the more likely it is that there will be some good quality eggs that will respond to the hormones that direct ovulation. Only these eggs will mature and be able to combine with a sperm cell to form an embryo.

Anti-Mullerian Hormone or AMH is the main hormone that is tested to estimate the ovarian reserve. It is produced by the maturing follicles in the ovaries and it remains constant throughout the menstrual period. Higher levels of AMH in the bloodstream indicate that there are more follicles in the ovaries, which means that the ovarian reserve is larger.

Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) is sometimes measured during ovarian reserve tests. It is one of the hormones that controls ovulation. High levels of FSH at the beginning of the menstrual cycle are associated with a smaller ovarian reserve and a lower chance of conceiving with your own eggs, even if you have IVF treatment.

Oestradiol is a form of the female hormone oestrogen that is sometimes used to evaluate the ovarian reserve. The oestradiol level should be within the normal range when it is tested at the start of the menstrual cycle if the ovarian reserve is healthy.

The ovarian reserve test can only provide an estimate of the number of eggs that remain in the ovaries and whether this is normal for a woman of a particular age. However, it cannot guarantee that you will be able to conceive with your own eggs or how long your egg count will remain normal. The ovarian reserve test does not tell us anything about the health or quality of the eggs. As women grow older, more of the remaining eggs will be of lower quality and unable to respond to ovulation signals or to form an embryo. The results of the ovarian reserve test won’t tell you whether there are any other factors that could affect your fertility, such as blockages in the fallopian tubes or issues affecting the womb lining. You may want to arrange a full fertility assessment to learn more about your fertility.

If the ovarian reserve is very low or you no longer have any eggs then you may want to consider using an egg donor. Although it may be possible to conceive using your own eggs if you have a lower ovarian reserve than normal for your age, the chances of success with IVF are much lower. Your ovaries will be less responsive to the drugs used to stimulate ovulation and the quality of the eggs is likely to be lower too. If there are no eggs at all or you are no longer ovulating, then using an egg donor will be the only option for you to get pregnant.

All of the eggs that a woman’s ovaries will produce are created while she is still in the womb. The number of eggs that remain (the ovarian reserve) will then decline with age. The number of high quality eggs also declines over time. The chances of a healthy egg becoming available for fertilisation each month will therefore drop with time. Fertility drugs can stimulate the release of more mature eggs, but the number of healthy eggs that are ovulated will decline with age.

The decline in the ovarian reserve with age can be estimated from the levels of hormones such as AMH in the blood. The average AMH level for a 25 year old is about 5.4ng/ml but it drops to 1.3ng/ml for the average 40 year old. The average level in women over 43 is just 0.07 ng/ml. Once the level drops below about 1.0ng/ml the ovarian reserve is considered to be diminished and the chances of conceiving using your own eggs is very low.

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