Starting a family is a major milestone that requires intensive planning. When you’re finally ready to conceive, sometimes it just doesn’t happen – at least not right away. There could be a myriad of reasons why you’re having trouble getting pregnant and one of them could be a low number of eggs in your ovaries.
The Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) or Egg Reserve Test is helpful in estimating the number of fertile years you have according to the quantity of eggs you have reserved. All women have a lifetime supply of eggs at birth; no egg is produced after we are born. However, as we age, the number of eggs in our reserve slowly declines with each cycle of menstruation.
The egg reserve fertility test measures the quantity of eggs through the amount of AMH in your blood. This particular hormone is secreted by the developing follicles and gives an accurate indication of the reserve. However, it does not give an insight to the quality of your eggs.
The level of AMH increases up to adulthood after which it begins to decline to negligible amounts right around menopause.
Why Go for the AMH test?
If you’re having trouble conceiving, your doctor may order the egg reserve test. Although this isn’t usually the first test ordered for fertility, it does have significant value for a number of reasons. Here are some:
- Understanding difficulty in getting pregnant or difficulty in maintaining a pregnancy
- Diagnosing Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
- Diagnosing various menstrual abnormalities for e.g. amenorrhea (absence of menstrual bleeding) or menorrhagia (heavy menstrual bleeding)
- Tracking your menstrual cycle and predicting ovulation
- Finding out the estimated time of menopause as well as the cause of an early menopause
- Preliminary testing for IVF
- Evaluating the effectiveness of treatment for ovarian tumours
- Test for infants with ambiguous genitalia
How Are Results Interpreted?
The normal amount of AMH in the blood is about 0.7 to 3ng/ml. If your result is within the normal range, then the number of eggs in your ovaries is sufficient for pregnancy. AMH levels above 1.0ng/ml are considered as “satisfactory fertility”. However, since this test does not predict the quality of the egg, there could be other reasons that are making conception difficult. In that case, your doctor will need to run some other fertility tests.
If the level of AMH is too high (over 3ng/ml), then you could be suffering from PCOS. However, other tests would need to be done to confirm a diagnosis.
On the other hand, if your AMH is too low (less than 0.7ng/ml), then the number of eggs in your reserve is insufficient. In this case, an FSH stimulation therapy or IVF might be good options to consider for pregnancy.
How Is a Low AMH Level Treated?
Women with low AMH levels can benefit from hormone therapy (DHEA supplementation) as well as IVF for a successful conception.
There is also evidence that certain dietary modifications and lifestyle changes can help stimulate and increase the level of AMH in your blood. Vitamin D and L-arginine supplements have been found to be helpful in this regard.
Other methods of increasing low circulating levels of AMH are acupunctures, abdominal massage, bone broth and stress management.
The AMH test can be a good indicator of fertility but it’s certainly not the only one. If the results from this test are inconclusive, it’s important to get other fertility tests done. These include measuring LH, FSH levels as well as Oestrogen levels in your blood. Ultrasound imaging can also be fruitful in finding out the cause of a difficult conception.
Having trouble conceiving isn’t a rare problem, and a lot of women face it up till today. It is important that you speak to your doctor to find out which fertility tests should be done to understand why conception has been difficult, and the appropriate treatments that could boost your chances of getting pregnant.