What is Ovarian Reserve?

Ovarian Reserve

“Ovarian Reserve”, a phrase that might not come to mind when thinking about future plans for a family. Whether you want to become pregnant this year or maybe even years from now, the one thing you need to consider is the state of your eggs. Not the kind that you have for breakfast, but the kind that are vital to baby-making success.

Ovarian reserve determines the ability of a woman’s ovary to provide egg cells for fertilization. At birth, a female has over 1 million eggs, but once she reaches puberty only 300,000 remain. During her monthly reproductive cycle, a single egg is released from one of many follicles that attempt to reach maturity. That egg or "oocyte" is what sperm are in search of when it comes time for fertilization. When no egg is released, pregnancy cannot occur.

Ovarian reserve is an excellent predictor of a female’s future reproductive success. The higher the number, the more likely she is releasing an egg every month. While an AMH or the Anti-Mullerian hormone level test is a good indicator of the status of a woman’s ovarian reserve, her age is the best predicator of egg quality. At 35, egg quantity and quality begin to decline significantly.

Though you may not be ready for a family now, freezing your eggs at a younger age could help ensure fertility success down the road. Even those who have already had a child, but prefer to wait to try for another might benefit from egg freezing. Previous fertility success doesn’t always guarantee future pregnancies. Just as we can’t stop time, we can’t stop the aging process from affecting the quality and quantity of our eggs.