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Understanding Ovarian Reserve Testing: Evaluating Your Fertility Potential

April 27, 2024


Ovarian reserve testing is a vital tool in assessing a woman's fertility potential and planning for family building. As women age, their ovarian reserve naturally declines, impacting fertility and reproductive outcomes. This article explores the significance of ovarian reserve testing, the methods used, and its implications for reproductive planning.

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Impact of age on female fertility – the clock is ticking

As a woman grows older, her fertility declines. A woman has about 1-2 million eggs at birth, and this finite number does not increase later in her life. At puberty, this number drops to half a million. These eggs are gradually ovulated from this finite pool every month, and the remaining number of eggs gradually diminishes. This reduction commences after 30 years of age, and after 35 years, there is an accelerated loss of quantity and quality. A healthy woman in her 20s has a 1 in 4 chance of conceiving every month. But at 40, she has just a 5% chance of getting pregnant per cycle. The reduction in the number of healthy eggs released with age reduces and delays the chances of conception, increases risk of miscarriage and chromosomal abnormalities such as Down’s syndrome.

Why is Ovarian Reserve Testing Important?

A woman’s fertility potential largely depends upon the number and quality of her remaining eggs – medically called ‘Ovarian reserve’.

By assessing ovarian reserve, healthcare providers can estimate her remaining reproductive time, assess prognosis and success rates of treatment provide tailored recommendations for a reproductive plan and fertility treatment. The fertility specialist will expedite treatment and conception in a woman with low ovarian reserve.

Methods of Ovarian Reserve Testing

  1. Anti-Müllerian Hormone (AMH) Levels: AMH is a hormone produced by small ovarian follicles. Blood tests measuring AMH levels provide insight into the quantity of remaining follicles. Low AMH levels indicate diminished/low ovarian reserve.
  2. Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) Levels: FSH is released by the pituitary gland and plays a role in stimulating follicle development. High FSH levels may suggest decreased ovarian reserve.
  3. Antral Follicle Count (AFC): AFC involves transvaginal ultrasound imaging to count the number of small follicles present in the ovaries. A lower AFC is associated with a low ovarian reserve.
  4. Ovarian Reserve Testing Panels: Comprehensive testing panels combine AMH, FSH, AFC, and other markers to provide a comprehensive assessment of ovarian reserve.

Implications for Reproductive Planning

The 21st century has witnessed an increasing trend toward delayed marriage and childbearing. Couples who voluntarily postpone parenthood should be aware of the natural decline in fertility with female ageing. Couples must be apprised that the aging process cannot be slowed, halted or reversed. Assessment of ovarian reserve and greater awareness will assist them in making the right reproductive life plan.

Ovarian reserve testing has significant implications for reproductive planning and fertility treatment:

  • Fertility Counseling: Results from ovarian reserve testing guide fertility counselling discussions, helping individuals make informed decisions about family planning timelines and fertility preservation options.
  • Infertility Evaluation: Ovarian reserve testing aids in identifying potential causes of infertility and predicting the success of fertility treatments such as intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF).
  • Reproductive Aging: Understanding the age-related decline in ovarian reserve allows individuals to proactively address fertility concerns and plan for pregnancy at optimal times. Nearly 10% of women of reproductive age lose eggs more quickly than normal, and have low ovarian reserve at a younger age. This condition is called premature ovarian ageing. Ovarian reserve testing helps make an early diagnosis, and timely expedited treatment in this subgroup is vital.
  • Personalized Treatment Approach: Healthcare providers use ovarian reserve testing results to tailor fertility treatments to individual needs, optimizing the chances of successful conception.


Ovarian reserve testing provides valuable insights into a woman's fertility potential, aiding in reproductive planning and treatment decision-making. By assessing ovarian reserve through methods such as AMH levels, FSH levels, AFC, and comprehensive testing panels, individuals can better understand their reproductive health and take proactive steps to achieve their family-building goals.

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