Since I found out we needed IVF back in 2015 (aged 30), it has been ingrained in my mind that fertility starts to diminish when you reach 35. This is a fact which many people who aren’t confronted with a fertility struggle don’t necessarily know enough about. It’s made to sound as though you reach the top of a hill and then suddenly fall off the other side. We may spend our twenties trying NOT to get pregnant, only to find out that worry would now be the best thing that ever happened. With this in mind, I was intrigued to see whether my age has started to decrease my own egg supply.
Over to Eloise Edington – Founder of Fertility Help Hub…
Seeing as I am about to turn the ‘watershed’ age of 35 next month, it seems perfectly fitting to see how my AMH levels have declined since I had them tested at 30, when we were embarking on IVF for the first time.For those who don’t know, AMH means ‘Anti-Mullerian Hormone’ test and it is a marker for ovarian egg reserve assessed via a blood test. As your AMH levels do not change during your menstrual cycle, the test can be taken at any time of the month – even if you are taking oral contraception. This test is normally one of the preliminary tests that a doctor would ask to see if you’re struggling with trying to conceive and, whilst it gives an indication on egg reserve (amount), it doesn’t tell us anything about the egg quality.
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So What’s Changed?
The blood test process for one. I had my initial AMH test done on the NHS (although it took a lot of persuasion to be able to have this done free of charge). The general rule in the UK is that, unless there is a known fertility issue or you’ve been trying to conceive for over a year, you’re lucky to be able to get fertility help and have this test done for free on the NHS.
It’s only since launching Fertility Help Hub that I have become aware of new and much easier ‘DIY’ at-home tests. No stress of trekking to the doctor on your morning commute, or waiting nervously in the waiting room for blood to be drawn out your arm, and then a few puncture wounds later (when they can’t find the veins in your arm), being attacked in your hand! Now you can do this AMH test (as well as many other general health, sexual health and fertility tests) from the comfort of your own home.
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I wanted to try this, to compare experiences, so I used an AMH kit from ‘LetsGetChecked’ (£119). This IVF Blog will share the process and my experience – here goes:
The test arrives in a box neatly sealed…
You are advised to do the prick blood test first thing in the morning, standing up, hydrated and before too much food – pretty much like any other blood test. This is how it worked, and I must add I can’t believe how nervous I felt taking the test, even though I’m no longer relying on my eggs for fertility.
I opened the box and registered my bespoke code on the ‘LetsGetChecked’ website
I entered my DOB and name inside the box (it’s clearly marked showing you where to do this)
I watched the video, so I was prepped as to what was coming next – no panic required
I picked my dominant hand index finger and cleaned the tip with the alcohol wipe provided, then dried it with a towel and took the head off the puncture device
My heart was racing a little bit as I pressed down to pierce my skin with the device, but in actual fact it just felt like a quick pin prick. I couldn’t believe how quickly the blood starting dripping from this small puncture!
My aim was not good and so I found it hard to drip the blood into the small test tube, however I soon got the hang of it and before too long I had almost filled the tube with sufficient blood
Having wiped down my finger, I put on a plaster (also included in the pack) and put the lid on the sample, gently shook it a couple of times and then placed it into the sealed medical bag provided and into the pre -paid packaging
Headed to the post office (free post) and handed it over – DONE!
I actually couldn’t believe how hassle-free and easy to follow the process was.
I received a text saying they were in. My heart was racing again. I logged onto the email but the sample hadn’t been sufficient! I had a feeling this might have been the case when I did the test, as my blood supply wasn’t playing ball. ‘LetsGetChecked’ called me to tell me I needed to repeat it. They sent a new test (free of charge when this happens) and I repeated the test a few days later. This time I made sure I was even more hydrated and pricked my finger at the tip, to increase the blood flow and aim better into the tube. Hurray – tube sufficient.
Then, off went Sample Two…
I had a text saying my sample had been received and, a couple of days after that, an email with my results…
They are looking at the blood using a measurement called pmol/l (picomole / litre) to show egg supply, not quality. Here are the ‘normal’ ranges that are given:
Age 25-29 = 6.4 to 70.3
Age 30-34 = 4.1 to 58
Age 35-39 = 1.1 to 53.5
Age 40-44 = 0.2 to 39.1
Age 45+ = 0.1 to 19.3
When I was 31 in 2016, my level was 13.7 pmol/l
Today my level is 4.6 pmol/l
In summary, I’m still in the ‘normal’ range for my age but my egg supply has decreased (as expected) by 9.1 pmol/l in just four years. I wanted to understand more about my result, so I requested a call with the ‘LetsGetChecked’ nurse. This was straightforward, and I selected a slot for the next day. She explained that factors such as diet and stress can affect the result. I am feeling tired and stressed at the moment, so this isn’t really a huge surprise. The nurse also said that, due to my age and the result, if I was trying to conceive, she would want me to repeat this test on a yearly basis to see how quickly my eggs were continuing to decline.
Related Article – Dealing with Anxiety and Uncertainty on your Fertility Journey
If you are starting to try and conceive and don’t know anything about your fertility, it could be worth taking the AMH test to check your supply. Hopefully this IVF Blog has given you a deeper insight into the options that are out there for you if you are concerned about your egg quantity.
If you’d like to self-test via ‘LetsGetChecked’ they’re currently offering our readers 20% off, just use the code Eloise20 at check-out here.