Study finds ovarian reserve tests fail to predict fertility

When a women ages, her egg supply declines reducing the chance of conception as they age.
By Amy Wallace  |  Oct. 11, 2017 at 1:39 PM
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Oct. 11 (UPI) -- A recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health found that tests estimating ovarian reserve in women do not predict short-term chances of conception.

The study, published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, consisted of 750 women ages 30 to 44 who had been trying to conceive for three or fewer months.

"Women are born with a set number of eggs that gradually declines through the reproductive years," Dr. Esther Eisenberg, of the Fertility and Infertility Branch of NIH's Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, said in a news release. "This study suggests that testing for biomarkers of ovarian reserve does not predict the chances for conception in older women still of reproductive age."

As people age, cells in the ovary secrete lower amounts of inhibin B and anti-Mullerian hormone, which are thought to show ovarian reserve. Fertility clinics often offer anti-Mullerian tests assuming that women with a lower ovarian reserve would be less likely to respond to fertility treatment.

The study participants provided urine and blood samples and checked for conception with home pregnancy tests. Results did not differ significantly after six cycles of attempting to conceive between women with low levels and normal levels of anti-Mullerian hormone.

Women with a low anti-Mullerian value had an 84 percent predicted cumulative probability of conception by 12 cycles of pregnancy attempted -- compared to 75 percent in women with a normal values.

Follicle stimulating hormone, or FSH, is a hormone released in the days before ovulation and is also tested for in home fertility tests.

Conception chances also did not differ significantly according to high versus normal levels of FSH, with conception rates of 61 percent compared to 62 percent after six cycles and 82 percent compared to 75 percent after 12 cycles.

"Our study suggests that younger women with biomarker levels indicating lower ovarian reserve should not become anxious that they won't be able to have a baby," said Dr. Anne Steiner, professor of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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