Finding out why you’re having trouble getting pregnant can help give you peace of mind and move you forward along the path to expanding your family. Ovarian reserve testing is one diagnostic tool to help you on your way.
A woman is born with a finite number of eggs, called her ovarian reserve. That number decreases with each menstrual cycle, decreasing her reserve. As a woman ages, the quality of those eggs also degrades, slowly reducing the chance of a viable and healthy pregnancy.
Ovarian reserve testing focuses on assessing whether your viable number of eggs is typical for women your age. It can also rule out any hormonal imbalances that can affect the menstrual cycle or that may indicate possible poor response to fertility treatment.
Your doctor may suggest ovarian reserve testing if you’re 35 or older and have not been able to conceive for six months or more. The tests measure certain hormones involved in ovulation and evaluate the number of follicles on the ovaries. While the results of this test can give you helpful information about how soon you should start trying to conceive, it cannot absolutely tell you when you how many fertile years you have left.
Ovarian reserve tests can be done in a few ways. One test usually done on the third day of a woman's cycle measures the amount of follicle-stimulating hormone, or FSH, in the bloodstream. Another blood test measures antimullerian hormone, known as AMH. The ovarian reserve can also be measured through a transvaginal ultrasound that allows a specialist to count the number of follicles in the ovaries.
Talk to your doctor about what tests are right for you and what steps you should take after you get your results.