If you are TTC (trying to conceive) you may have read about the term “ovarian reserve”. The term ovarian reserve refers to a sort of egg inventory, or how many eggs are left in the ovaries, or ovary. When a woman starts menstruating as a teenager she has approximately 500,000 eggs in her ovaries, and over time batches of these eggs will be released every month, with occasional skipped ovulations, if there are times of stress or lack of nutrition, etc. So, by the age of 30, a woman typically only has about 10% of her eggs left in her ovaries, and at age 40 she only has about 3% of her eggs left. That sounds rather alarming, but the good news is fertility is still quite good when a woman is in her 30’s.
In order to test or estimate ovarian reserve we can do a variety of tests. One test, usually the first test, is done with an ultrasound when a woman is on her period, and involves counting the resting eggs. If we see 8 or more eggs in the ovaries that means the ovarian reserve is still good. Other tests include blood tests. Blood tests for ovarian reserve are on menstrual cycle day three, and are called Day 3 FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) & Estradiol, as well as the AMH (Anti Mullerian Hormone) test. The purpose for testing ovarian reserve is to plan fertility therapy. Fertility therapy is based on recruiting more eggs and making more embryos in order to increase the chance for pregnancy. Women with a low ovarian reserve tend to make less eggs, and therefore we see less embryos and lower pregnancy rates. Low ovarian reserve does not mean that a woman can’t get pregnant, in fact if she is ovulating and in her 30’s there’s a good chance that she can get pregnant.
If you have any questions about ovarian reserve, ovary health and fertility, please call Santa Monica Fertility – we are always happy to help you on your path to parenthood!