Were you told you had “bad eggs” based on this test? It may not be true.
Some of you may know that I am a peer support group leader for RESOLVE New England. In a recent fertility support group, one of the participants mentioned that she had “bad eggs” based on a blood test. She was very emotional. There were tears in her eyes, and I could tell she was internalizing this test as meaning something that it did not.
The test she was referring to is called Anti-Mulerian Hormone (AMH). It’s often ordered when a person is trying to conceive or working with a fertility clinic. When I saw how upset this person was, I wanted to make sure she understood what this test means (and what it doesn’t) because it is commonly misunderstood.
At the beginning of each month, the ovaries develop and grow a number of follicles. In a natural cycle, only one will become the dominant follicle, mature, and ovulate (when it releases its egg). AMH is a hormone made by the cells of the developing follicles, so more follicles mean higher AMH. 🤓
AMH reflects the overall follicular pool (quantity) but doesn’t measure the health of the eggs (quality).
It is associated with the number of eggs you have, and if you are going through an IVF cycle, it can be associated with the number of eggs available for retrieval. While AMH levels <1.1 ng/mL are associated with a poorer response to IVF stimulation, it is NOT associated with poorer quality embryos, and it is NOT associated with a lower chance of getting pregnant naturally. 😳
- ✅ an indicator of the overall follicular pool (the number of eggs you have in development at that time)
- ✅ a good prediction of ovarian response to stimulation and is associated with the number of eggs available in an IVF retrieval. Lower AMH levels are less likely to respond well to IVF stimulation.
AMH is not…
- ❌ a marker of egg quality
- ❌ indicative of the quality of embryos in an IVF cycle
- ❌ useful for natural fecundability (chances of becoming pregnant naturally)
I wanted the person in our support group to know that her low AMH did not mean that she had “bad” or “old” eggs (I hear both misconceptions frequently!). As our meeting was ending, she shared with the group that by understanding more fully what AMH measures and means clinically, she felt a lot better than she did before having this knowledge. 💫
I also think it’s important to share that AMH (and other fertility markers) can change over time. I have seen people who incorporate diet and lifestyle changes nudge their numbers in a positive direction over time (that can include herbs, supplements, and whole foods). Simple changes can have a big impact on your overall fertility
I know it’s challenging, but if possible, don’t put so much stake in one test. There are so many factors that go into our fertility and chances of conception each month, and making broad assumptions based on one test result is not usually helpful or accurate. 🥰
If you want to read more about AMH, here is a recent study that found no association between AMH and the proportion of normal embryos for two large groups undergoing IVF.
If you had fertility labs and have questions about what they really mean, or want help with a holistic fertility plan, schedule a free 15-minute discovery call to see if we are a good fit to work together. ❤️