How To Find Out If You’ll Be Able To Get Pregnant In The Future
The scene from “Sex and the City” when Charlotte reflects on the effort she put into pregnancy prevention as a single woman–only to get married and learn that she has a 13 percent chance of conceiving– is an unfortunate reality that rings true for millions of women in the United States, according to the CDC. Historically, it has been fairly impossible to predict your odds of getting pregnant in the future; however, a new screening exam is changing that.
How it works:
All women are born with all of their eggs and they gradually lose them over time. Unfortunately, some women lose their eggs more rapidly than others, causing their ovaries to age prematurely.
“The number of eggs that are left in a woman’s ovaries at a given time defines her ovarian age,” said Dr. Norbert Gleicher, who developed the exam. “For 90 percent of women, their egg counts follow an expected curve as they age. But for 10 percent of women—independent of race, background, or what they eat or drink—their egg counts don’t follow that curve pattern, and their ovaries age prematurely.”
According to Dr. Gleicher, who serves as medical director and chief scientist of the Center for Human Reproduction, the screening is available to women ages 18 to 35 and in place to equip women experiencing POA with the knowledge needed to make decisions about the future.
“After treating infertility in women for decades and hearing them tell us time and time again that they wished they had known of the risk of POA so that they could have planned for a family sooner, we were determined to find a better way to proactively identify POA in young women,” said Dr. Gleicher. “This is the group of women our screening is addressing. Fertility centers like ours see an exploding patient population in this category, and since they usually present to us very late—in their mid to late 30s or 40s—there are limited options we can offer them. The best case is that they go into IVF quickly; the worst case is that they are unable to have biological children.”
Currently, testing costs $98 plus lab fees. It consists of a medical questionnaire, and blood tests that take three things into consideration:
1. “The FMR1 gene, which may regulate how a woman’s ovarian function changes over time.”
2. “Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which has a role in the maturation of eggs (if FSH levels are high that’s an indicator of declining ovarian reserves or how many eggs a woman has left).”
3. “Anti-muellerian hormone (AMH), another indicator of a woman’s ovarian reserves.”
While What’s My Fertility? is only licensed in New York, New Jersey, Texas, Pennsylvania, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Illinois, Florida, and Virginia at the moment; you can still ask your ob-gyn to access the screening for you.
If you’re residing in one of the licensed states, you can begin the screening process by heading over to the What’s My Fertility? website and filling out a questionnaire. You will then be prompted to go to a local lab to have blood work performed.
“Our plan is to offer this program for free to the general ob-gyn community and primary care doctors in every state so that it may eventually become part of routine screening for young women,” said Dr. Gleicher. “If we can advance the first diagnosis of POA from the late 30s to the mid- to late 20s, there will be a huge outcome difference because women will have the chance to do something about it; they’ll be able to make informed decisions earlier in life that will help them avoid the emotional and hefty costs of later infertility treatments.”