Fertility

Big Bellies

About five years ago, I began to realize that I needed more in my life.  At the time, I was in the middle of a 200 hour yoga teacher training.  Sure, I enjoyed the ability to do whatever I wanted.  I was quite focused on myself.  I had an active social life.  But I needed more.

I saw my friends and family with children.  I needed that.  There was one little problem.  My life did not support that need.

I meditated a LOT and practiced a LOT of yoga, even more than ever because I was in training. In other words, when I say that I needed to have children–I can tell you that my heart and I had long conversations about it—and a heart knows what it needs.

Around the same time, I had an appointment with my doctor.  I was concerned that I’d never tried to have children (in fact–I’d tried real hard not to) and that my ability to have children would be compromised by my age.  I was also concerned that, because I was single, I would not be able to adopt–should I be unable to have children of my own.

My doctor was supportive and suggested that I meet with a reproductive endocrinologist (a fertility doc).  She thought that a specialist might have a test to determine if I had anything to worry about regarding my reproductive potential.

I immediately made an appointment with the recommended specialist.  The specialist did, in fact, have such a test.  The test is called the Anti-Mullerian Hormone Test (AMH).

It is a simple blood test that determines something called “ovarian reserve.”  Women are born with their lifetime supply of eggs.  Both the quality and the quantity of those eggs decrease with age.  The Anti-Mullerian Hormone is a hormone secreted by cells in developing egg sacs (follicles).   “Ovarian reserve” then is the estimated number of follicles that you have left. . . . or something like that.

At my appointment with the specialist, she took a sample of my blood and a lab performed that test.  That part was easy enough.  About a week later, I received a phone call from the specialist’s receptionist advising me of the results of the test.

According to the receptionist, the test revealed that I had a diminished ovarian reserve.  My reserve was so low, in fact, that I should anticipate menopause within the next five years.

My entire heart sank.  How was that possible?  I was nowhere near the age where I should be worried about menopause.  I had squandered my youth.  I had abused my fertility potential.  I was never going to have children.  I cried.  A lot.  Never mind the fact that I was receiving this information on the phone from a receptionist who could not answer any of the questions that I had.  I hung up the phone.  My heart was broken.

No kidding–after that phone call–EVERY single woman I saw was pregnant.  Or so it seemed.  They all had these big beautiful bellies.  Bellies that I knew then I’d never experience.  Bellies that I’d never known that I wanted until I found out I could never have one.

Just this week, I read an article published by VOX.  It reported a study that was first published in JAMA.  According to that study, diminished ovarian reserve (as determined by the AMH test) is not associated with infertility among women attempting to conceive naturally.  According to JAMA, women should be cautioned against using AMH levels to assess their current fertility.  Imagine that.  On the other hand, it is a good indicator of the number of eggs that can be retrieved either for the purpose of freezing or in-vitro fertilization.

Regardless of the new study, I am glad I took the test.

Love,

 

J

#AMH #anti-mullerian #ovarianreserve

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