What is meant by an “ovarian reserve?”

Ovarian reserve refers to the quality and quantity of your egg supply, which represents a woman's reproductive potential. There is a  fixed number of eggs in your ovaries at birth. As a woman ages, her supply of eggs gradually declines until the eggs are depleted at menopause. The greater the number of eggs, the better her chance of getting pregnant. A woman's age is the single most important factor in declining fertility due to a lower ovarian reserve. A significant decline in fertility begins in the early 30's. 

 

In addition to this decrease in egg supply, women can also have a poor quality eggs which reduces the chance of implementation and development. This could result in a miscarriage. Poor quality eggs may be due to genetic factors, age, smoking, radiation, chemotherapy or endometriosis. Your ovarian reserve is one indicators of whether you will be successful with in vitro fertilization (IVF). There are a few ways to measure ovarian- reserve and determine a suitable fertility treatment plan. 

A high FSH level (>10)  and low antral follicle count (AFC) in the first few days of a woman's cycle suggests diminished ovarian reserve. When going through fertility treatments, a lower ovarian reserves may indicate may indicate several things:

  • Lower response to injectable fertility drugs
  • Lower pregnancy rate with in vitro fertilization IVF and intrauterine insemination IUI
  • Increased risk for miscarriage  
  • Increased risk for chromosomal abnormalities in embryos

 

If you have questions about your ovarian reserve, you should meet with a fertility doctor.