What is ovarian reserve?
A woman is born with a finite number of eggs in her ovaries, this is called ovarian reserve. With age, a woman’s supply of eggs diminishes. In general terms, a woman who is less than 35 years old has more eggs and better quality eggs. In addition, women over 40 years old tend to have reduced numbers of and poorer quality eggs. Although there can be situations where women under 35 have a lower number and poorer quality eggs this is not clinically common.
An individual’s ovarian reserve can be used to measure the relative availability of eggs that could potentially be fertilised.
Recent advances in fertility measurement have meant that women can have tests for their ovarian reserve. Previous assessments of ovarian reserve with blood tests like Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), inhibin and oestradiol were not as accurate as modern methods of ovarian reserve assessment.
How does my ovarian reserve affect my chance of having a baby?
Research has shown that the success rate from IVF treatment depends on a woman’s age and ovarian reserve. Women less than 35 years old have more eggs and better quality eggs, resulting in a higher success rate, whereas women over 35 are more likely to have suboptimal ovarian reserve. As such, for some women, having an ovarian reserve test can assist her in making a decision about whether or at what age to go ahead with IVF treatment.
What does the test involve?
Currently a combination of transvaginal ultrasound scan assessment of ovaries and blood test for antimullerian hormone (AMH) allows an accurate assessment of a woman’s ovarian reserve. Firstly, transvaginal ultrasound assessment is carried out by insertion of an ultrasound probe into the vagina to visualise the ovaries. A detailed assessment allows visualisation of little sacs of fluid up to 5mm in diameter known as antral follicles, which are counted. The higher the number of antral follicles, the better the ovarian reserve. Additionally, the blood hormone AMH can be taken at any time of a woman’s menstrual cycle and the higher the AMH level the better the reserve.
How much does it cost?
Ovarian reserve package:
Anti Mullerian Hormone (AMH), scan and results review with doctor