A woman’s ovarian reserve is a measure of the number of viable eggs a woman has in her ovaries. This simple blood test can be taken on day 1, 2, or 3 of your menstrual cycle to determine whether your ovarian reserve is declining and if any age-related changes have begun.
Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) controls the menstrual cycle and production of eggs. If your ovarian reserve is declining, your follicles (fluid filled sacs containing your eggs) will be less sensitive to FSH, so it is harder for the egg to mature and ovulate. In response, your body produces more FSH to try and stimulate egg production. High levels of FSH suggest that your body is struggling to make eggs and is trying to compensate.
Oestradiol is a hormone that is responsible for the health of your ovaries. As women get closer to menopause, their oestradiol levels fall. High levels of FSH and low levels of oestradiol can therefore indicate menopause, or premature ovarian insufficiency.
Anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) is a hormone produced by follicles within your ovary. The more eggs/follicles you have, the higher the anti-mullerian hormone levels are likely to be - so it can help to predict egg yield. Testing AMH has limitations; it is only an estimate of the number of viable eggs a woman has and should not be used as a definitive test to assess the likelihood of you becoming pregnant, either naturally or as the result of fertility treatment. There are many reasons why a couple may have problems conceiving, not just the number of viable follicles in the ovaries. We recommend that a low AMH test result should be followed up with an antral follicle count where a doctor counts the activated follicles within the ovaries.
Measuring AMH, along with FSH and oestradiol, can help to identify premature ovarian insufficiency (early menopause) and can give your fertility specialist an idea of how well you may respond to IVF. While no single test can ever predict your chances of becoming pregnant, this test can help you in family planning and the choices you make about when to start.