When a woman is born, she has all the eggs her body will ever have; her body doesn’t produce more throughout her life. This number starts out at almost two million eggs but due to losing between 500 and 1500 throughout childhood (even though she is not yet menstruating), she only has about 300,000 left when her childbearing years come around. “Each month in a woman’s menstrual cycle, follicle stimulating hormone is released which stimulates the growth of about 15-20 eggs in one of her ovaries. Of this batch, one egg becomes dominant and continues to mature, suppressing the others until they stop growing and die.” This one egg is the one released during a woman’s period in hopes of getting fertilized. Of the remaining eggs, those that are not lost or released during a period begin to decline in a woman’s late 30s, and even more rapidly in her 40s and 50s.
For these reasons as well as others, a woman might decide to undergo a test that counts the number of eggs she has left in an attempt to calculate the number of years she has remaining to have children. This test is actually two tests. The first test requires an ultrasound scan of the vagina to count how many antral follicles a woman has. These follicles contain eggs, so the fewer follicles, the fewer eggs. “The other test he carries out is a test checking the levels of anti-Mullerian hormone in a woman’s blood. This hormone is produced by the ovaries’ follicles; therefore the higher the level of the hormone in the blood, the more follicles there are, and the higher a woman’s ovarian reserve,” according to Dr. Gorgy, a fertility consultant at The Fertility & Gynaecology Academy in London.
Doctors are quick to point out there’s not a 100% guarantee with this test, but it does allow women to have some peace of mind. For those who have a high reserve, it allows them to continue to delay childbearing. For those who have a low reserve, it allows them to make plans now for having children before it is too late.
Schedule an appointment today to talk to your doctor about your fertility. Make plans now for your future family.