From birth, females have a fixed-though plentiful-supply of eggs
(ovarian reserve). As a woman ages past her mid-30s, her eggs gradually
degrade, making it less likely that she will naturally conceive, or that an
assisted reproductive technology (ART) procedure will
result in pregnancy and a healthy baby.
Among American women in their 20s to mid-30s, over 35 out of 100 give birth
for each ART cycle using their own eggs. As women age, the live ART birth rate
gradually drops:footnote 1
While there is no definitive test of ovarian reserve, a woman's
follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) level can be measured
to evaluate how well her ovaries are working. A high FSH level is a sign that
the body is trying to stimulate the
ovaries to make more egg
follicles, but the ovaries are not responding and
conception is unlikely.
A woman's FSH level can be tested using a blood sample:
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CitationsCenters for Disease Control and Prevention, American Society for Reproductive Medicine, and Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (2010). 2010 Assisted Reproductive Technology National Summary Report. Available online: http://www.cdc.gov/art/ART2010/PDFs/ART_2010_National_Summary_Report.pdf.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerFemi Olatunbosun, MB, FRCSC - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Current as ofMarch 16, 2017
Current as of:
March 16, 2017
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Femi Olatunbosun, MB, FRCSC - Obstetrics and Gynecology
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Last modified on: 8 September 2017