For women who are considering having a baby now or even in the future, it is never too early to start thinking about your reproductive health and setting yourself up for the best chance of success when the time is right for you to conceive.
Having an understanding of your fertility, specifically with your egg count, is a key component and may help guide your timeline and process for pregnancy. The Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) is one of the best indicators for women on their fertility journey, as it assesses ovarian reserve, or egg count. Experts say that women can absolutely still get pregnant and have a successful pregnancy if egg supply is in the lower range for their age group.
Fertility naturally declines as women age, which could make it more difficult to conceive the older you become. Regardless of age, many women are led to tests or treatments to support their dream of becoming pregnant. Women on their fertility journeys are looking for the most accurate information about their egg counts and hormone levels to give them the best chance of having a family of their own.
As time and money are often precious in these circumstances, it is important for women to know what tests they should take to support their goal of getting pregnant. For women who hope to start a family, an AMH test can provide an accurate indication of fertility to create a more clear path forward for hopeful fertility success.
What are AMH Tests and What Do They Measure?
As women start conversations about fertility with their medical providers, a doctor may order an AMH fertility test as a diagnostic tool to lay the foundation for the patient’s journey ahead. So, what is AMH and why should women be aware of it?
An anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) is a hormone produced by the granulosa cells in ovarian follicles. The production of the AMH hormone is reflective of ovarian reserve in women - or the number of eggs remaining in a woman’s body. Thus, a woman’s AMH level helps determine the number of eggs she has at the time of testing and can serve as a key predictor in her fertility journey. AMH levels on their own can’t predict a woman’s chance of getting pregnant, but it is a useful marker in fertility potential.
What is measured in an AMH test?
AMH levels are measured by an AMH blood test. AMH test results explain and calculate the size of a woman’s remaining egg supply - or ovarian reserve - and her chances for conception as she ages. It is important to know how to read an AMH test, particularly if you are self-administering an at-home AMH test, so that accurate results can be communicated to and examined by a doctor.
When a test is reviewed, a low AMH level points to a diminished ovarian reserve (DOR), or low egg count. AMH testing and antral follicle count can indicate other potential reproductive issues, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is when a woman’s ovaries develop many follicles, but don’t actually release an egg, typically associated with abnormally high AMH levels.
The difference in knowing whether AMH levels are high, low, or normal will help a woman determine the next steps in her fertility journey, emphasizing the importance of taking an AMH test early on when considering starting a family.
An AMH Test in Action
Shannon Garcia, the Internal Operations Lead at Innovative Health Diagnostics (IHD), was at the right place at the right time when she began thinking about starting a family.
As an IHD employee working in the lab, Shannon learned about AMH tests and why AMH levels are important to track for women's reproductive health purposes. Prior to her role at IHD, Shannon had not heard about AMH or discussed the importance of knowing your AMH levels with her doctor.
Shannon had her AMH level tested at IHD and then consulted a doctor to go over the results. Her test revealed that she had a high AMH level and she was also diagnosed with PCOS. This knowledge has been a critical piece of information for Shannon and her healthcare provider to factor in as she continues her fertility journey.
“For so long, I was like, what's wrong with me? It wasn’t until I came to IHD and was around the right people and reading this information during my job that it registered for me,” Shannon explained. “I would read into this topic myself, but once I knew I had PCOS, I started to understand how to move forward, because I knew this information was coming from a reliable and accurate source - IHD’s AMH test.”
Shannon encourages other women to talk to their healthcare providers about their AMH level and ask to take an AMH test. In her case, not only did it help provide a pathway forward in her fertility journey, but it provided an answer (PCOS) to some unusual health issues she experienced for years, including hair loss, abnormal hair growth, and adult acne - all of which are signs that her AMH levels were off.
Timing is Everything: The Best Time for an AMH Test
Unlike other blood tests used for fertility, AMH tests can be performed on any day of a woman's cycle and not necessarily done in a lab or medical setting.
AMH tests can be taken in the comfort of your own home with the help of a laboratory partner like Innovative Health Diagnostics. The test can be measured at any point of a woman’s menstrual cycle, not just on day 3. AMH tests do not require a sonogram to get an accurate reading like antral basal follicle count - which is why women can conduct the test at home and send the results to their healthcare provider, oftentimes without even having to go into the doctor’s office.
Once completed and evaluated, normal levels of AMH indicate that many follicles are active, which likely means there is a high ovarian reserve and high probability of fertility success. Although some women may have a diminishing ovarian reserve, this does not mean their chances of conceiving are necessarily lower than women with higher levels. Ovarian reserve testing runs the risk of giving women an inaccurate impression of their future chances of having children, so it is important for women with high or low AMH levels to consult with their doctor about the next steps in their fertility journey.
AMH tests are considered accurate markers of ovarian reserve, and they reflect the size of the ovarian follicular pool of a woman of reproductive age and hopeful fertility success.
Is the AMH Test a Reliable Indicator of Fertility?
If women are looking for the most accurate and reliable tests to track their likelihood of fertility success, the specificity and sensitivity for an AMH test is 80% and 78.95% accurate, respectively. An AMH test is significantly better than the specificity and sensitivity of the traditional diagnostic marker of the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) assay, which is 28.57% and 78.65% accurate, respectively.
How are AMH tests significantly stronger in comparison to the FSH levels test? AMH tests have an enhanced sensitivity for premature ovarian failure (POF) diagnosis in women, not seen as strongly in FSH, providing the most diagnostic accuracy for tests in this area and for women looking for answers.
The Accuracy and Lifestyle Factors of AMH Testing in Fertility
If you or a woman in your life has been struggling to conceive, taking an AMH test to assess ovarian reserve can potentially help to target one source of infertility or serve as an indicator for your healthcare provider when determining next steps in the process.
Nevertheless, this does not address other issues that might be causes of infertility, such as problems with the fallopian tubes or uterus, ovulation dysfunction, diseases such as diabetes, obesity (in both partners), or thyroid issues, or other hormonal problems, according to a PubMed study.
These are just a few lifestyle characteristics to consider when seeking a root cause of infertility before taking an at-home AMH test.
Begin Understanding Your AMH Levels With IHD
To better understand your reproductive health, women can conduct an AMH test by contacting a qualified, certified AMH testing partner like IHD today to uncover information about hormones specifically related to fertility levels and egg count.