Fertility Tests May Not Be Best Gauge of Your Biological Clock

From Drugs.com - October 10, 2017

Fertility Tests May Not Be Best Gauge of Your Biological Clock

TUESDAY, Oct. 10, 2017 -- Women in their 30s and early 40s who want to know whether their biological clocks are running out should skip fertility testing, a new study suggests.

Fertility clinics commonly use blood and urine tests to assess the quantity and quality of eggs remaining in a woman's ovaries -- information that clinicians can use in making decisions about treating infertile women.

However, a study in the Oct. 10 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association found that these tests cannot predict whether a woman in her later reproductive years will get pregnant naturally.

"We were hoping to see that these biomarkers would predict a woman's ability to get pregnant, but we did not find that," said Dr. Anne Steiner, the study's lead author.

Steiner, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, said there's "huge interest" in such a fertility test.

Women generally have more trouble getting pregnant as they age. The egg supply dwindles later in life, and the quality of the remaining eggs declines. As a result, Steiner explained, women often want assurance that there's still time to start a family or confirmation that they should freeze their eggs for a future pregnancy.

The age at which a woman can no longer conceive varies from person to person. About one-third of couples will have trouble getting pregnant if the female is 35 or older, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

Low levels of anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) and high levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) are considered indicators of low "ovarian reserve," meaning that a woman has fewer available eggs. That has fueled women's interest in having blood and urine tests done during annual checkups to monitor their fertility. It's also fueled a market for over-the-counter urine tests that measure FHS.

Consumers may pay well over $100 for FSH testing, depending on where the test is performed and other variables, according to Healthcare Bluebook, which tracks health care cost and quality data. That does not include the cost of the physician office visit. A "fair price" is about $49, according to the company's consumer website.

Blood collection and analysis can run from $80 to about $200, Steiner estimated.

Do-it-yourself test kits also are available. One online retailer listed two urine test sticks for $20.


Continue reading at Drugs.com »