When it comes to questions about fertility, there are many myths and mysteries women are often told.
Sometimes our mothers, grandmothers or other ‘helpful’ friends and family, pass on anecdotal answers but if you have questions or concerns about your body when you are thinking about starting a family, a fertility expert is the best place to start.
Dr Juliette Koch from Repromed sat down with She Shopped to get to the bottom of some of the questions you might have about egg count and fertility.
Video: Watch Dr Koch answer your questions about egg count.
You see, eggs are one of the largest human cells. They contain our DNA and all the factors that are required for reproduction. A woman is born with a certain number and she never gains anymore throughout her life.
“When we are in our mother’s tummy,” Dr Koch says, “we have around four million eggs and by the time we’re born, that’s down to a million and that decrease continues as we age. By puberty, there’s about 400, 000 eggs in the ovary and then it reduces each year down to about 10,000 at the age of 40.”
Not every egg is capable of reproduction and our eggs can be affected by lifestyle and genetics.
“The things that affect how many eggs we have might have are to do with our DNA handed down to us by our mother, but it might also be affected by things that happen to us in our life, like surgery or other conditions which can affect how we lose eggs,” Dr Koch says.
“Everyone can have a different number of eggs and also a different quality of their eggs, but there is no test that can look at quality of eggs. In terms of numbers, we can assess that.”
To find out how many eggs a woman has, a simple blood test can be done called AMH, which stands for Anti-Mullerian Hormone, which is a hormone that’s produced in the follicle in the ovary.
Check out the video for Dr Koch’s detailed explanation of AMH and how it works in your ovaries.
“It’s important to determine AMH according to your age,” Dr Koch says. “There’s no one level that is either good or bad. AMH peaks around the age of 25 and declines towards menopause. The AMH will become zero maybe 5 or 10 years before menopause. There are still eggs in the ovary and it’s still possible to achieve a pregnancy but the numbers are very low at that stage.
To examine a woman’s AMH a doctor will take into account the woman’s age, and how they compare to another woman their age.
To see this, check out the video for Dr Koch’s excellent explanation.
“The reality is fertility is a really complex issue and AMH is just one piece of the puzzle that gives you an idea of what your chance of getting pregnant is,” Dr Koch says. “The most important factor that affects your chance of getting pregnant is actually your age.”
“While AMH on its own might not be able to tell your full fertility, it might help you with decision-making, it might help you plan when you decide to have a family, it might help you decide when to go and see a doctor and get assistance. Or it might open you to the thought of freezing your eggs.”
Once you get your AMH results, it’s important to have them looked at by a fertility specialist who can explain them, tell you what the results mean for you and give you some options.
“For someone with a high AMH it might point to polycystic ovaries and for someone with a low AMH who has been trying for pregnancy for about six months, it’s really important you see a fertility specialist and consider treatment,” Dr Koch says.
Getting your AMH tested is a simple blood test, which you can get at Repromed or you can have it done by your GP.
If you have more questions about fertility, or you are worried about your egg count, get in touch with the experts at Repromed today.