If you’re a woman undergoing treatment for infertility chances are you’ve heard the phrase “ovarian reserve” (which refers to the number of oocytes, or eggs, available to be fertilized, a number that drops as a woman gets older) and probably a related term, “Anti-Mullerian hormone,” or AMH. According to the National Institutes of Health, the AMH gene gives instructions for making a protein that’s important in the development of a male fetus.
But knowing a woman's level of AMH gives doctors other information as well. In the past, most fertility doctors would measure a woman’s follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) on day three of her cycle to get an idea of her ovarian reserve (which is linked to her odds of conceiving, since the more good-quality eggs you have, the more likely you are to get pregnant, of course), but more physicians are now using AMH, as well as inhibin-B, to determine this since they are direct measures of a woman’s ovarian reserve (FSH is an indirect way to measure it). A recent study in the medical journal Human Reproduction reported on 769 UK women undergoing their first cycle of in vitro fertilization (IVF) with fresh embryos; 346 underwent a conventional stimulation procedure with medication, and 423 were treated with a protocol that took into account each woman’s individual AMH level.
The results were encouraging: Pregnancy rates and live birth rates were significantly higher in women who got a customized treatment plan based on their AMH level. There was more good news too: The cost of drug treatment dropped by 29 percent per patient and the number of women who experienced the rate of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) also dropped. Symptoms of OHSS can include abdominal pain and bloating; weight gain; and more serious problems, like severe pain and abdominal swelling, problems urinating, and shortness of breath. Talk to your doctor if you experience any of these while undergoing fertility treatment.
If you’re undergoing fertility treatment has your reproductive endocrinologist discussed your AMH level with you?