Fertility Answers - Helping Build Families

Decreased Ovarian Reserve

It is a biological fact that fertility decreases with age

The decreased odds of getting pregnant are due to normal changes that occur with aging. Women are born with a limited number of eggs. Since no new ones are formed throughout a woman’s life, the number of eggs steadily declines over time. As women age the quality of their eggs declines as well. This doesn’t mean that you should run out and get pregnant, or resolve to never have kids. But you should understand the facts. Bottom line: every woman’s body ages at a different rate and there is no way of knowing for sure what your fertility will be like, say 10 years from now.

Ovarian reserve testing can provide you with an estimate of egg quality and quantity.

In order to understand the fertility potential of individualized patients, it is common for a fertility specialist to recommend ovarian reserve testing. We commonly use a test offered by Reprosource® Laboratories called the “ovarian assessment report” or OAR®. By combining multiple hormones and age factors into one algorithm, the OAR increases the overall sensitivity determining the chance of conception. The OAR combines age with blood serum levels of various ovary related hormones such as AMH and FSH into a proprietary mathematical algorithm to provide the Egg Retrieval Score™ (ERS). Though there are no proven treatments available to improve egg quality, it is extremely valuable information to help determine treatment options, such as donor egg IVF versus IVF using the patient’s own eggs.

When a woman’s ovaries stop working before age 40, she is said to have premature ovarian failure (POF). Premature ovarian failure affects approximately 1% of women. Some women develop POF when they are teenagers. If that happens, the teen will never experience normal function of her ovaries. Ovarian function includes the production of eggs, as well as hormones such as estrogen. Unlike menopause, POF may come and go (be intermittent) in many women. For that reason, it may be more appropriately termed premature ovarian insufficiency.

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