Do you want a baby someday but aren’t ready yet? Perhaps building your career, looking for the right partner, or enjoying some one-on-one time with your love before jumping onto the baby bandwagon? “Of course I have plenty of time,” you’re probably thinking. The truth is, women only have a finite number of eggs and their numbers drop steadily from the time a girl is born.
By age 30, 10% of women will meet the criteria of ” Low Ovarian Reserve”, 25% by age 35, and sometime after 35, typically there is a steep drop-off in conception rates. Unfortunately, urging women to begin their family before age thirty is not only in contradiction to society’s expectations and a modern women’s aspirations, it is just downright politically incorrect.
So what can you do if you are just not ready to start having kids?
How do you know how loudly your biological clock is ticking?
I have seen countless women devastated to learn that having a baby would be difficult or impossible simply due to age. The “Fertility Profile” is a snapshot of your chances to conceive. The tests estimate your egg reserve, and also expose underlying problems that would indicate that you will need to undergo advanced fertility treatments that can be expensive and require time and financial planning.
The Fertility Profile:
1) FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) test – a blood test drawn on day 3 of your period (first day of flow is day 1) indicates if the number of eggs remaining in your ovaries is getting low. A value of 9 or less is reassuring. A higher number may mean you need help conceiving.
2) AMH (anti-mullerian hormone) a blood test that can be drawn on any day of your cycle. A result lower than 1.0 indicates a low reserve and a possible issue getting pregnant without assistance.
3) Antral Follicle Count – AFC is probably the single best tool for estimating ovarian reserve. This involves an ultrasound to count the number of visible maturing eggs in your ovary. Best performed on a day between day 3 through 12 of your cycle. It is a vaginal ultrasound and sometimes uncomfortable, but the best indicator of your egg reserve. An AFC of 12 or greater (both ovaries counted) is considered normal and predicts, but doesn’t guarantee, that you have a few years left to conceive.
If a women is thirty or older and has chosen the man who will be the father of her children and plans to wait to start a family, the Fertility Profile wants the man to be checked.
4) Semen analysis – a test some men don’t even want to think about because it goes to the very heart of their feelings about their manliness; however, if there is a problem with their sperm, it’s very helpful to know as soon as possible. The test is simple and can be ordered by any doctor. The sample is collected privately by the man and if he is reluctant, I often have the woman deliver it to the Lab. Certain religious restrictions may exist, but there is usually is a way to overcome them. The lab analyzes the sperm to determine the amount of sperm produced as well as the number and movement, and quality of sperm.
If a women has a history of pelvic/abdominal infection (including chlamydia, gonorrhea, ruptured appendix) or even major pelvic/abdominal surgery it is worthwhile to find out if there is any blockage.
5) Hysterosalpingogram – a test that is done at a radiology center. A thin tube is placed into the uterine cavity and then dye is injected and spread of the dye is seen and recorded on x-ray. “Plumbing Issues” such as structural abnormalities and blockage of the fallopian tubes can be identified and a treatment planned for you.
If your test results indicate that everything is normal, congratulations! You are likely to be fine if you wait a year or so to conceive. If you choose to delay further you may need to repeat some of the tests.
If your results are abnormal, don’t panic – the results don’t mean you’ll never get pregnant. You may need to alter life plans or may need to use modern, health innovations that have helped countless couples conceive.
Knowledge is Power! Learn your Fertility Profile and make sure your dreams of conceiving have every opportunity to come true.