Tests that measure a woman’s “ovarian reserve” to estimate how many more years of fertility she has have grown increasingly popular. But a new study finds that levels of the hormones commonly tested aren’t tied to lower chances of getting pregnant.
The new research, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, looked at three markers: anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and inhibin B.
That’s led to a boom in ovarian reserve testing, both in the clinic and with direct-to-consumer tests from companies. One startup, Modern Fertility, is pre-selling a new $149 fertility test that measures FSH, AMH, and other fertility hormones. The company says physicians will tally all those measures up and calculate a “fertility score.” Previous research has correlated levels of the three hormones with the number of eggs a woman has in her ovaries — a measure known as “ovarian reserve.” Studies have suggested that information could be used to predict how well a woman will respond to in vitro fertilization. But in recent years, as more women are delaying pregnancy until later ages, ovarian reserve tests have begun to be used as a way to test for future fertility.
“Women are already using these as fertility tests. Over the years, they’ve worked their way into being in the mainstream without evidence,” said Dr. Anne Steiner, a reproductive endocrinologist at the University of North Carolina and one of the study’s authors.
“As we get older, fertility becomes a giant egg-shaped question mark,” the company said in an August blog post announcing the test.