Tick tock. There’s no way to predict your biological clock.
This article first appeared on Body+Soul
If you're a woman eager to know how much time you have left on the biological clock, you may have thought about ovarian reserve tests designed to tell you the quantity and quality of your eggs.
From a blood test, the AMH (antimullerian hormone) and FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) levels have long been used as a way to predict fertility treatment success. (You produce less AMH as eggs start to decline, and FSH rises as you near menopause, FYI).
In recent years, this “egg timer” test has gained popularity as a way to predict just how much longer you have before you think about combining the corporate ladder or jetsetting the globe, with motherhood.
But according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, these costly tests are a total waste of time.
The study of 750 women aged 30 to 44 years old, who had no history of infertility and had been trying to conceive for less than three months, showed that a low AMH or high FSH had no bearing on your chance of falling pregnant.
Researchers said: "Among women aged 30 to 44 years without a history of infertility who had been trying to conceive for three months or less, biomarkers indicating diminished ovarian reserve compared with normal ovarian reserve were not associated with reduced fertility.
“I definitely was surprised by the findings,” said Dr Anne Steiner, a reproductive endocrinologist of the University of North Carolina, who led the study.
“Women that had signs of diminished ovarian reserve when their lab tests suggested they had a low number of eggs remaining, they were just as likely to get pregnant in six months or 12 months as a woman with a higher ovarian reserve.”
As Mother Nature would have it, you're born with all the egg cells, or oocytes, that you will ever have. Over time, oocytes mature and deteriorate, or are reabsorbed into your body. What’s left is called “ovarian reserve” and by your late 30s, your reserve is generally on the low side, and the quality of what’s left is often inhibited by age.
It was once thought that you should find out all you can about your fertility to take control of your future. But despite the voice inside your uterus reminding you it’s there and ready to grow a tiny human, the advice now for those worried about having a family? Cross these tests off the list of life’s to-dos - and avoid the added anxiety that comes with it. Not to mention that a snapshot of your ovarian reserve today has no bearing on what it might be tomorrow. So, really this test has no business masquerading as a family planning tool.
Caveat: The study focussed on women getting pregnant, not carrying a healthy pregnancy to term.