When is the right time to start a family? That’s a tough question that probably depends on your career, relationship, and financial status. Our bodies also have something to do with it. The truth is women’s fertility decreases with age. Luckily, instead of falling victim to society’s general biological-clock panic, women can test their specific situation. And information is power when it comes to family planning.
If you’re curious where you stand, you should start by testing your Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) levels. AMH is a hormone that is closely correlated to the amount of eggs a woman has in her ovarian reserve. Recently we held a “Hormone Party” at The Assembly, and the women of Modern Fertility broke it all down for us. While there are many factors — including male factors — that influence your ability to get pregnant, the quantity and quality of our eggs is a big one. At 20, women typically have more and better eggs. By 40, we have fewer, and the quality goes down, too. Finally, by menopause we have 0 eggs left. This typically happens around 51 years old. But perimenopause, the transition period, can begin as early as your late 30s.
Exactly how a woman’s egg supply decreases is specific to her.
Exactly how a woman’s egg supply decreases is specific to her. Thus, testing your AMH levels can give you a more tailored answer to how much time you can wait before having kids. If you have a healthy score that indicates you have a good ovarian reserve, you might decide to wait longer. If you have a lower score for your age, it could inspire you to freeze your eggs or start trying to conceive. Or, you might decide to have children close together in age, since you have less time. As Dr. Erin Burke, who leads research for Modern Fertility, explained, each woman’s “reproductive career” is different. And the more you know, the better you can plan for the one you want.
So what’s the best way to test your AMH? That’s where Modern Fertility comes in. They’ve developed an at-home test you can request online. They hope to fill the gap between a regular obgyn (who might not be well-versed in fertility issues) and a fertility specialist (who can be quite expensive). After you get tested, Modern Fertility will present your results in a comprehensive fertility profile that thoroughly explains your situation. And they can get you in touch with experts if needed.
Many of us have been programmed to think a flip switches at 35 years old. It doesn’t — and knowing your AMH score provides more insight into your fertility than age alone.