There are many factors that play a role in a woman’s ability to conceive through IVF. At the top of the list is age, along with the available ovarian reserve. If you are thinking about having IVF treatments in Bangkok or have already attempted IVF without success, you should understand the impact of low ovarian reserves.
What is Your Ovarian Reserve?
Your ovarian reserve refers to the capacity of normal egg cells within the ovary. These are the healthy egg cells available for fertilization. The eggs you are born with are all you will produce during your lifetime. Most of these eggs are normal and healthy, however, as you age, more eggs become abnormal and the ovarian reserve decreases. This limits the number of healthy eggs that may respond to ovarian stimulation.
Issues That May Result in a Low Ovarian Reserve
A decline in genetically normal eggs is natural and becomes more common after the age of 34. However, there are also factors that decrease the ovarian reserve for women of any age. This includes smoking, ovarian scarring from endometriosis, and pelvic infections.
Complications from surgeries and other medical treatments, including cancer treatments, may also result in low-quality eggs. Aside from this, a small percentage of women, simply, are born with a lower number of eggs.
A low ovarian reserve does not mean that the available eggs are abnormal. With IVF treatments, women 40 years of age or older have a live birth rate of 20 per cent. A limited reserve may lower the chances of successful conception. However, First Fertility offers an alternate solution that may increase the odds.
Testing and Measuring Ovarian Reserve
When considering IVF treatments, patients often need to have their ovarian reserve measured through a series of tests. This includes blood tests, ultrasounds, and the testing of specific hormone levels.
Antral Follicle Count Helps Measure Quantity of Eggs
Ultrasound imaging is used to inspect the antral follicles, which are a measure of the egg supply and a good indicator of the ovarian reserve. Fertility clinics often use an antral follicle count to evaluate the chances of successful IVF treatment and to help develop appropriate treatment options.
The antral follicle count is not used to test the quality of the eggs. It is a simple test performed with ultrasound equipment to measure the number of eggs. This helps predict the possible response to ovarian stimulation treatments.
Blood Tests to Measure Follicle Stimulating Hormones
Starting on the third day of your menstrual cycle, a blood test may be used to measure FSH levels. The pituitary gland produces the follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), which is responsible for stimulating the follicles to produce eggs. On the third day of your menstrual cycle, FSH levels should be low, and then gradually increase until the next cycle.
Your body continues to produce FSH to help stimulate the production of eggs, even when you have a low ovarian reserve. In fact, when your ovarian reserve is low, your body will produce FSH earlier than normal to stimulate production. If the blood test reveals high FSH levels on the third day of your menstrual cycle, you may have a low reserve.
Measuring Anti-Mullerian Hormone Levels
The Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) is another hormone that is measured to help predict the successful response to ovarian stimulation treatments. AMH is produced in the ovary, early in the production of eggs. This means that AMH levels are often related to the ovarian reserve. Low levels of AMH in a woman’s body may indicate a low ovarian reserve.
AMH levels are used to help determine the number of available eggs for IVF treatments. This test is also used to decide on a beginning dose for ovarian stimulation drugs, and other VF medications. Unlike the FSH levels, AMH levels are tested at any point during the menstrual cycle.
While AMH levels are believed to be connected to the ovarian reserve, the research is not conclusive. Low AMH levels may indicate that the rate that you produce eggs is decreasing quicker than normal or it may indicate that you have a low ovarian reserve. However, the AMH levels are still a general indicator of fertility.
Low AMH levels do not always indicate that a woman has a limited chance of successful IVF. There are many additional issues that can impact fertility.
Ovarian Reserves Help Determine Treatment
Your ovarian reserve is closely related to your overall fertility. However, a low reserve does not necessarily mean that you cannot get pregnant. At First Fertility, we have successfully treated many women with lower reserves.
The tests used to measure the ovarian reserve, provide additional information about your fertility, which can be used to help determine the best treatment. For example, women with a low ovarian reserve may require higher doses following the beginning doses of ovarian-stimulating hormones.
Testing the ovarian reserve also gives more data to determine risk factors for Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS). This is a rare medical condition that can occur when taking fertility drugs. While it is very rare, and most cases are mild, it is still a potential concern.
Testing helps determine the risk of OHSS to reduce the chances of complications from IVF treatments. If it is determined that you have a higher risk factor for developing these complications, you begin treatment with lower doses and may require additional monitoring.
Dealing with Low Ovarian Reserve
A low reserve does not always indicate a low chance of successful fertilization, using your own eggs. However, it is useful for deciding on a treatment plan. If you are worried about the success of IVF treatments, there is another solution. You may also choose to use donor eggs for your IVF.
Deciding on a treatment, is a personal decision. If it is important to you, to use your own eggs, everything possible will be done to help increase your chances of success. However, women that choose to use donor eggs often have a much higher success rate. First Fertility has helped many women successfully get pregnant and deliver healthy children after choosing to use donor eggs. To speak to a consultant or arrange an appointment contact us here.