If you’re trying to get pregnant, or are having trouble staying pregnant, fertility testing can be overwhelming to think about. FSH, AMH, LH – there are so many acronyms to infertility. What does it all mean? Dr. Thomas Kim from Reproductive Medicine Associates of Southern California, here in our Los Angeles office, shares some insight about what is being tested and why?
The primary purpose of fertility testing for women is to understand the health of a woman’s ovarian reserve, or how many eggs she may have and whether they are developing correctly. Ovarian function results from a complex interplay of hormones, which have to be working just right to result in the growth, development, and release of eggs monthly.
When opting to have your fertility tested in Los Angeles, look for a clinic or doctor who will test for the main hormones that are involved in checking the ovarian reserve.
Here are the five key reproductive hormones that are good indicators of female fertility:
Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH)
This hormone is produced by egg follicles in the ovaries and is the best indicator of ovarian reserve. (‘Ovarian reserve’ is the term used for how many eggs you have in your ovaries). The higher your AMH level, the more eggs you probably have. But a very high AMH number is not always a good thing – it could mean you have PCOS or Polycystic ovary syndrome. Learn more about AMH levels.
Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH)
FSH stimulates the development of the egg and kickstarts ovulation. High levels of FSH are one of the first signs that your body isn’t producing enough estrogen and that it’s working extra hard to do what it’s supposed to. This naturally happens as women age, so a high FSH level at a younger age is a sign that the ovarian reserve may be low.
This hormone is produced by the ovaries and is responsible for prompting the follicles to mature, the egg to release, and the uterine lining to thicken. It also cues FSH production, so the two are often tested together to get the full picture.
Luteinizing Hormone (LH)
This hormone triggers ovulation by causing the egg to release from the follicle. An abnormal LH level could indicate a variety of things, including PCOS and the onset of menopause.
So why is it important to test these hormones?
Once you know where your hormone levels are, you and your doctor will have a better understanding of how many eggs you have available and how well your reproductive system is functioning. If you know you have fewer eggs than what is average for your age, you can take action and plan for your future. Some options you may look into include freezing your eggs, adjusting your timeline to start a family, or pursuing infertility treatment if necessary.
What other fertility testing is available?
Another way to test your ovarian reserve is through ultrasound. With a transvaginal ultrasound, your doctor will have visibility into your ovaries and can count how many follicles you produce each month. An ultrasound can also be used to detect physical obstructions to fertility such as ovarian cysts, blocked fallopian tubes, and abnormal uterine shape.
What’s the next step?
Talk with your doctor and get those hormones checked out! Taking this step sooner rather than later can prevent you from struggling with infertility down the line. Information is power, and the more you know about your reproductive hormones right now, the better you can plan and maximize your chances of a successful pregnancy and birth when you’re ready.
Schedule an appointment today in our Los Angeles office, and speak with one of our physicians today.