Infertility Tests: Ovarian Reserve Testing

Egg quality is an imperative component of conceiving a baby, and for couples dealing with a battery of infertility tests, ovarian reserve testing can help determine the best direction for resolution. Women have a finite supply of eggs, and the older a woman gets, the more the quantity of her eggs can diminish. However, younger women can also have a compromised egg supply. Ovarian reserve testing can determine the approximate number of eggs in reserve, although it cannot determine the health of them. This is usually based on the age of the woman.

About Ovarian Reserve Testing

There is no one definitive test that can provide answers about egg reserve, so a physician must depend on a few different infertility tests to give him a complete picture. These infertility tests include the Day 3 FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) test, the Clomiphene challenge test and the Anti-Mullerian hormone levels (AMH) test.

What These Tests Can Indicate

A woman's egg quantity can decrease in her 30's, but when a woman approaches or enters her 40's, the quantity of her eggs really declines. This is why many IVF programs have an age cut-off date. The infertility tests for ovarian reserve can give a good indication if a couple will be successful in conception when age is a factor in their fertility issues. The ovarian reserve testing is typically through blood tests of the FSH level. If the level is high, it indicates a woman's response to the FSH level is poor, and she will not experience a good result from ovarian stimulation. The normal level of FSH is usually less than 9--any higher than that, and it indicates a woman has a compromised ovarian reserve and IVF may not be successful.

Treatment Options

Although there are no definitive treatment options for a high FSH level (the ovaries are programmed to produce a finite number of eggs), there are some things a woman with borderline laboratory results can do to improve her chances of making enough eggs for a try at IVF. Yoga is thought to help improve blood flow to the pelvis, and acupuncture can improve ovarian blood supply. A supplement of DHEA and wheat germ can also contribute to ovarian production, although there have been no studies to prove this is the case and results are unpredictable.

Unfortunately, women with a poor ovarian response have few options regardless of age. However, with the improvements in reproductive technology, even with an impaired ovarian response a woman can still carry a pregnancy to term through donor eggs. The capacity of the uterus is separate from the ovary function, therefore, through IVF with donor eggs, embryos can then be transferred.

Infertility is a difficult problem to process, and it may take many types of infertility tests to determine the exact cause. Advanced technological procedures are improving every day, and many women who have a diminished ovarian reserve are able to experience pregnancy at a successful rate. Today, the chances are better than they ever have been before.