Ovarian Reserve Predictors
!(http://www.pacificfertilitycenter.com/fertilityflash/vol7-6/clocks.jpg)The simplest method of predicting fertility rates is clinical history, of both the individual and her closely related family. The number of months spent attempting to conceive predicts fertility. A couple that has been trying for some time will naturally have a lower fertility rate than a woman that has not had unprotected intercourse. Response to ovarian stimulation can also be used as a marker, as it is fairly consistent between cycles. Family history, i.e., the fertility of the womans mother or sisters reflected in age at menopause and age at conception are useful predictors. Such factors from clinical history can help define the risk of a problem with ovarian reserve. Ultrasound is a useful tool for predicting ovarian reserve, as in measuring the Antral Follicle Count (AFC). Antral follicles are the smaller follicles, visible on ultrasound, between 2 and 10 mm, that are lost as a woman ages. In younger women, the AFC is 10-20, declining by 5% per year through age 37, and then accelerating to a loss of 10% per year thereafter. Women show a fairly consistent AFC loss rate of one follicle every two years. AFC predicts the response to ovarian stimulation at least as well as blood tests, but its ability to predict pregnancy outcomes is limited, particularly when low. A woman with a higher AFC will show a better response to fertility drug treatments. A high AFC seems to predict pregnancy rates, but data remains limited, as there are no prospective studies published. A low AFC seems to be a less accurate predictor of ovarian reserve, particularly in older age groups. AFC may help predict outcomes, but should not be used to exclude patients from treatment. Anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) is a blood test that directly measures ovarian reserve. Produced directly by early stage ovarian follicles, high levels (over 1.0) are favorable, while low levels (less than 1.0) indicate decreased ovarian reserve. AMH may be the best measure of the menopausal transition and ovarian age. It may also be useful in predicting ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, the effects of chemotherapy, and in determining the treatment of PCOS. AMH seems a superior predictor of ovarian response compared to other markers, including age, and day 3 FSH and estradiol. It offers similar predictive value compared to AFC. AMH can be drawn at any time in the menstrual cycle, and is not affected by hormonal therapy, including oral contraceptives. AMH still requires further study. The range of normal variation is still being determined, and the true predictive value of the test requires a great deal more analysis. The specific range of reliability and predictive value by age is yet to be established. Cycle day three FSH and estradiol, and, to a lesser extent, the [clomiphene challenge test](http://Clomiphene Citrate (Clomid)), remain viable tests for estimating ovarian reserve. These tests are established as predictors of response to ovarian stimulation. Prediction of pregnancy rates is more difficult. Recent studies concentrating on the predictive value of these tests have shown that they cannot be used to determine which patients cannot conceive, but are useful for screening and counseling. All in all, these tests are only rough predictors of ovarian reserve. They are moderately good predictors of ovarian response to stimulation, and relatively poor predictors of pregnancy outcome. In a particular patient, the tests can be used to counsel about potential response to ovulation induction, but it remains difficult to predict pregnancy outcome based on the test results. The ultimate test of ovarian reserve is response to treatment and whether a pregnancy results from that treatment. Stay tuned as we evaluate further research to establish the validity of ovarian reserve testing methods.