The term ovarian reserve refers to the number and quality of your eggs, also known as oocytes. If your ovarian reserve has decreased, the number and quality of your eggs are lower than expected for your age. Low ovarian reserve can affect people of all ages. However, treatments are available for decreased ovarian reserve, and it is possible to get pregnant despite the condition.
What is the average number of eggs by age?
The average number of eggs in your ovarian reserve depends on your age. Aging naturally reduces your egg reserves. However, a number of other factors can cause decreased ovarian reserve. In addition, genetic abnormalities such as tuberculosis, endometriosis, previous ovarian surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, smoking, pelvic infection, autoimmune disorders, mumps and fragile X syndrome may also cause decreased egg reserve. However, sometimes the condition may have no obvious cause.
What are the symptoms of low ovarian reserve?
There are hardly any visible signs of decreased ovarian reserve. However, difficulty conceiving, late or absent menstrual periods, shorter-than-average menstrual cycles (average 28 days), heavy menstrual periods, and miscarriage are among the most common symptoms. However, these symptoms are not always present. That’s why it’s important to talk to your doctor if you’re having trouble conceiving.
Diagnosis of low ovarian reserve
It is important to have a fertility test if you are trying to conceive or if you have a history of irregular or painful periods, pelvic inflammatory disease, recurrent miscarriages, previous cancer treatment or endometriosis. Early detection means you have a better chance of successful treatment.
If you are under 35, you should see a doctor if you have been trying to conceive for a year. If you are over 35, you should see a doctor after six months. If you’re over 40 and trying to get pregnant, it’s best to talk to your doctor right away.
Low ovarian reserve is diagnosed with several blood tests that measure follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) levels. Both of these hormones play an important role in menstruation and reproduction.
It’s natural for FSH levels to increase and AMH levels to decrease as you age, so it’s important to assess these hormone levels for your age. Those with reduced ovarian reserve will have higher FSH levels and lower AMH levels for their age.
Treatment of low ovarian reserve
One of the most common treatments for low ovarian reserve are supplements such as dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), a mild androgen. DHEA is produced naturally in the body, but DHEA levels decrease with age. DHEA supplements can increase fertility.
If low ovarian reserve is detected early, it is possible to freeze healthy eggs for future use. Your doctor may even suggest trying IVF right away. If you suspect your ovarian reserve is low or you are having trouble conceiving, you should see a doctor.