The AMH Test: A Simple Blood Test Can Help Women Understand If They Should Feel a Sense of Urgency About Becoming Pregnant Sooner Rather Than Later

Frozen EggsA simple blood test called the Anti-mullerian Hormone (AMH) Test can help women who want children understand if they should feel a sense of urgency about becoming pregnant sooner rather than later. Although the AMH Test is not invasive or expensive, it is rarely suggested by family doctors and OB/GYNs when women turn to them for counselling regarding their plans for reproduction. Most women first learn about the AMH Test only after they have experienced difficulty becoming pregnant and are a patient within a fertility clinic. A greater awareness among women of the utility of this test can help protect them from the heartache of infertility.

The AMH Test, which can be taken on any day of a woman’s menstrual cycle, provides information about the status of a woman’s ovarian reserve. A woman’s “ovarian reserve” refers to the quantity of eggs remaining in her ovaries. The diminishment of a woman’s ovarian reserve is an inescapable fact of reproductive biology. Women are born with a finite number of eggs in their ovaries and this number declines as they age, with a slight dip at age thirty, a significant decline at age thirty-five, and an accelerated attrition at age thirty-eight. When a woman’s ovarian reserve is diminished, many of the eggs that remain available in her ovaries are genetically abnormal and incapable of resulting in the birth of a healthy baby. Women with diminished ovarian reserve often struggle to become pregnant.

While diminished ovarian reserve is rare in young women, it does occur in some young women. The average age of menopause is 51.7, however ten percent (10%) of women reach menopause by age 45 and their ovarian reserve can be diminished approximately thirteen years prior, by age thirty-two (32). The beauty of the AMH Test is that it gives women insight into the status of their personal ovarian reserve based on the quantity of eggs in their own ovaries, rather than based on general guidelines focused on age. The AMH Test indicates whether a young woman’s ovarian reserve is as one would expect it to be at her age. If it is, she may have time to spare before attempting to become pregnant, and can test her AMH level over time to get a good sense of the rate at which her ovarian reserve is declining. However, if a young woman discovers that her AMH level is low for her age, she will be advised that she is likely to enter menopause early, that it would be wise not to postpone attempting to become pregnant, and that she might want to consider attempting to achieve pregnancy as aggressively as possible via in-vitro fertilization (IVF).

If attempting pregnancy is not an immediate option, the AMH Test can also help young women make decisions relating to fertility preservation. If a woman is in a committed relationship with a man and they have decided they would like to have children together but do not yet feel ready, and the woman’s AMH level is low for her age, this can alert the couple to consider freezing embryos now for future use. If a woman does not have a partner with whom she wishes to have a child, and her AMH level is low for her age, this can alert her to consider freezing her eggs now for future use.

Although it is a relatively new test, the AMH Test is now considered the most precise, informative and reliable method of assessing a woman’s ovarian reserve. Many clinics use this test exclusively to evaluate a woman’s ovarian reserve, however some fertility specialists use the AMH Test in combination with other tests, including a transvaginal ultrasound to count the number of antral follicles, the testing of other hormone levels such as the follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) level and the estradiol (estrogen) level on day 3 of the woman’s menstrual cycle, and the clomiphene citrate challenge test (CCCT).

If you are a woman in your early thirties or older who wants to have children but is considering delaying pregnancy, I urge you to make an appointment with a board certified reproductive endocrinologist without delay to request an AMH Test. The result of this simple blood test can inform your decision-making process and potentially protect you from the heartache that I witness daily in my efforts to help women overcome infertility.

The fertility clinic guessing game: Canadians have no way to find out success rates of pricey IVF treatments

Rhonda_Levy02.jpgHere is an article on the front page of today’s National Post in which I was featured. My best advice: be a discerning and empowered fertility patient.

http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/06/22/the-fertility-clinic-guessing-game-canadians-have-no-way-to-find-out-success-rates-of-pricey-ivf-treatments/?__federated=1

Why I Believe in Pre-implantation Genetic Screening (PGS)

pgs-imgIn a high quality fertility clinic, the most common reason why in-vitro fertilization (IVF) cycles fail is because the transferred embryos were aneuploid (chromosomally abnormal). The likelihood that this is the failure’s cause increases dramatically with the female partner’s age.

However, when a patient does IVF without pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGS) and the cycle fails, it is impossible for the physician to offer a precise reason for the cycle’s failure and, any reason offered is, in reality, speculation. Many of my clients have expressed frustration in response to their physicians’ inability to explain why their IVF cycles have failed. Read More

“How One of My Dearest Friends Told Me She Was Pregnant”: New Blog Post on “Own the Process With Empowered IVF™” on Fertility Authority

Check out my new post on my blog on Fertility Authority, Own the Process With Empowered IVF™:”How One of My Dearest Friends Told Me She Was Pregnant”  http://www.fertilityauthority.com/blog/rhonda-levy/2014/3/27/how-one-my-dearest-friends-told-me-she-was-pregnant

New Blog Post on Own the Process With Empowered IVF™

Check out my new post on my blog on Fertility Authority, Own the Process With Empowered IVF™: “It is Virtually Impossible to Interpret Fertility Clinic Success Rates”: http://www.fertilityauthority.com/blog/rhonda-levy/2014/3/20/it-virtually-impossible-interpret-fertility-clinic-success-rates

Why I Felt Oddly Proud & Lucky When I Used IVF to Build my Family

Touch of loveWhen I used IVF to build my family I felt oddly proud and lucky; proud that while having a baby was so easy (and fun) for most others, I was willing to endure the needles, blood draws and stirrups to have a baby if I had to; proud that I would not (could not) give up until I did; lucky that although I did not have insurance coverage for IVF, I was able to find a way to pay for 5 IVFs (believe me, it was not easy); and lucky that I had (and still have) a husband who felt with every cell in his body believed that any challenge we faced in life was a challenge we would face together.

In fact, more than 18 years later I still feel so proud that I talk about how I had my children with pretty much anyone who will listen, although I am careful to ensure that my disclosures are appropriate in terms audience, time and place. Often this has led to an opportunity to help my social companion, his or her family member, friend or co-worker.  Read More

How Not to Choose A Fertility Clinic and Why

If you need help from a fertility clinic to become a parent, these are several basic facts you must be aware of before you choose one:

  • There is an overwhelming number of fertility clinics to choose from in North America. In the United States, there are more than 450. In Canada, there are more than 60.
  • Fertility clinics vary in quality and in their ability to help you have a baby.
  • Your choice of clinic can impact whether or not you will have a baby at all, and how much you will endure physically, emotionally and financially in the process. Read More

Welcome to Empowered IVF™

On February 6th, 1996, the embryos that became our beautiful fraternal twin sons, Max and Lorne, were transferred into my uterus. Had you predicted on that life altering day that eighteen years later I would be launching Empowered IVF™, I would have looked at you like you were insane. After four failed IVF cycles, the only thing on my mind that day was hope.

But after eighteen euphoric (and exhausting) months of motherhood, my mind began to fill with new thoughts, thoughts of how I might be able to help other couples facing infertility. At first it was just a spark, but the the spark eventually grew into a fire, and today that fire is best described as a raging passion. In 1998, I began to work as an Infertility Consultant. With each phone call or email from a joyful client expressing thanks for the guidance that helped them achieve a desperately longed for pregnancy, I became increasingly hooked. I had never before felt such fulfillment and gratification, nor had I ever provided a service that made such a profoundly positive difference in the personal lives of others. It was addictive and I was in it for life! Read More

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