Most women understand they are born with all of the eggs they’ll ever have. It’s a finite number. However, that number varies from woman to woman. Some women have more ample egg stores than others and, assuming they’re healthy and with no underlying infertility factors, these women are more likely to get pregnant, even into their mid- to later 30s.
That said, women may be born with lower egg reserves, or prior medications or medical treatments have diminished their available reserves. Knowing their egg supply is diminished empowers them to make more informed decisions about their future fertility. This is where AMH testing comes into the picture.
AMH Testing Helps Women Make Proactive Fertility Decisions
AMH stands for anti-mullerian hormone, a female reproductive hormone produced by the granulosa cells inside ovarian follicles. Originally used as part of the standard fertility testing protocol, AMH testing is now becoming a popular test among women in their late 20s and early 30s, as they begin to determine how long they should wait to start a family.
It’s important to note that AMH testing can only tell us what your ovarian reserves are right now, in this moment in time. While we can try to predict the future, there is really no way of knowing what your ovarian reserves will be in five, ten, or 15 years down the road.
AMH levels can indicate your current egg reserves
While AMH tests are not a 100% guarantee of fertility, researchers have discovered that identifying a woman’s AMH levels offers insight about her remaining egg supply – or her “ovarian reserve.”
The older you are, the lower your AMH levels will typically be, directly reflecting the normal age-related decrease in ovarian reserve.
What’s normal; and what’s not?
The following guidelines are used to determine whether AMH levels are normal or not:
- Less than 0.3 ng/ml Very low
- 0.3 to 0.6 ng/ml Low
- 0.7 to 0.9 ng/ml Low-normal range
- Greater than 1.0 ng/ml Normal
- Higher than 3.0 ng/ml Indicator that you may have PCOS
We want to see levels in the normal range. If your AMH levels are on the lower end, your OB/GYN or fertility specialist will coach you through a fertility plan that makes sense with what we’re seeing. For some, this may mean deciding to get pregnant sooner rather than later to capitalize on the eggs you have left. While a low number doesn’t mean you can’t get pregnant, it does mean you should probably create a plan for trying at home now OR planning for the future in the event you’ll need support via fertility treatments.
For others, a low count may mean a conversation about egg retrieval and freezing to optimize your chances of IVF success when you’re ready to get pregnant in the future. And, contrary to what you might think, higher is not necessarily better when it comes to AMH levels.
Higher-than-normal AMH levels may indicate PCOS
AMH levels that are 3.0 ng/ml or higher are an indicator that a woman may have poly-cystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). One of the most common causes of female infertility in the United States, PCOS is characterized by ovulation issues that can lead to irregular or potentially absent periods. As a result, women with PCOS often have many healthy eggs ready to mature, but because they aren’t ovulating regularly, they have a harder time getting pregnant.
Knowing you have PCOS is key to your fertility health, as well as your general health, because the hormone imbalances and insulin resistance typically of PCOS patients elevates your risk of other health issues.
AMH testing is affordable and can be done at any time
AMH testing is affordable. If you have insurance, it may be covered. If not, most AMH tests range between $20 and $75 through your OB/GYN’s office or local labs. Best of all, AMH levels do not waver throughout your menstrual cycle, so you can schedule one anytime.
Interested in learning more about your future fertility options? Contact us here at Fertility Solutions to learn more about AMH testing and whether it makes sense for you.