AMH Female Fertility Test- Back to Basics

April 11, 2017

AMH Anti- Mullerian Hormone Blood Test- Female Fertilty Test

by Dr. Rob Downer, Clinical Embryologist

The AMH or Anti-Mullerian Hormone blood test is routinely used in fertility clinics to assess female fertility.

But why do we measure a woman’s AMH level?

Let’s go back to basics of female biology. The two ovaries are the reproductive organs in females, which act like egg warehouses. Did you know that a woman is born with a set number of eggs in her ovaries, which cannot be replenished?

A woman is born with between 1 and 2 million eggs in her ovaries, which will deplete to about 300,000 by the time she reaches puberty. At puberty the menstrual cycle begins and ovulation commences. Ovulation is the process whereby, once a month, a mature egg is released from one of the ovaries into the fallopian tube where it may be fertilised by a sperm. However, there’s a common misperception among women that they only lose one egg a month. This is not the case.

At the beginning of each month tens of eggs start to grow in each ovary and they begin to compete for a limited amount of the hormone that is necessary for them to grow, sort of like chicks in a nest all competing for a single morsel of food. As a result of the limited supply of hormone, just one egg gets to grow fully and this is the one that is released from the ovary at ovulation.

Unfortunately, the bad news is that all the other eggs that started to grow at the beginning of that same month don’t go back into stock, they die off and are lost. So the basic fact is that a woman loses many eggs each month from the limited stock of eggs available in her ovarian warehouse and the stock diminishes as a woman gets older, which is why a woman’s fertility decreases as she ages.

Where does the AMH blood test fit in?

The AMH blood test is a fertilty test which takes stock of your ovarian warehouse. It tells your fertility doctor if your stock level of eggs is too low, too high or normal for your age. Women can experience fertility problems when their AMH levels are too high or too low. When having fertility treatment your AMH level also helps your doctor decide on the optimum dosage of fertility drugs to use to get a good response from your ovaries.

The AMH blood test is a powerful and accessible blood test that can be performed at your fertility clinic at any time during your menstrual cycle. It is a relatively cheap test with costs ranging from approximately €100 to €200 euro. If you are experiencing difficulty achieving pregnancy perhaps it might be time for a stock take!

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