The Egg Timer Test – Assessment of the Ovarian Reserve
The ‘egg timer test’ is a blood test that measures your anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) level. The value corresponds to the number of eggs in your ovaries (what we refer to as your ovarian reserve). It does not provide any information regarding the quality of your eggs, only the quantity.
A woman is born with all of the eggs she will ever have (around one million at the time of birth), with the number declining each year until approximately 50 years of age when there are negligible numbers left. Along with the decrease in the quantity of the eggs, is a decrease in the quality of the eggs with age, which is why having a baby in your 40s can be very difficult.
If you have had the AMH test done and you have any concerns, you should make an appointment to see me to discuss your result. Contrary to the fears of many women, a low ovarian reserve as indicated by a low AMH level, does NOT usually mean that you cannot have a child. Unless your AMH level is extremely low, indicating that no eggs remain in your ovaries, fertility is normally possible.
Knowing your AMH level is important for several reasons. If your AMH is low, it is likely that you will run out of eggs and become menopausal sooner than someone with a high AMH level. Knowing that you have a low AMH means that you might want to bring forward plans to have a child, whilst you are still able to. If you are found to have a high AMH, you may be reassured that you still have some time in which you can have children (although, egg quality decreases with age, so whilst you may have an adequate number of eggs in your ovaries, don’t delay conceiving for too long as the quality of the eggs may not be good enough to facilitate pregnancy).
Women with a large number of eggs remaining in their ovaries will have a high number of follicles in their ovaries (follicles are just tiny fluid-filled cysts that contain an egg) and are likely to have a good number of eggs collected should they decide to undergo egg freezing or IVF. Women with a low ovarian reserve, as indicated by a low AMH level, will have a low number of follicles on their ovaries and consequently less eggs would be collected at the time of egg collection should they pursue egg freezing or IVF.
If you have had an AMH tests and you are concerned about the result, please come and discuss it with me rather than worrying about it. By explaining the result, I may be able to either put your mind at ease or recommend treatment to preserve your fertility.