Study Doubts Accuracy of Fertility Tests, Says Low Egg Reserves Not Necessarily Mean Infertility

Published Date : Oct 12, 2017

A new study has suggested skipping fertility testing for 30s and early 40s women wanting to know the status of their biological clocks. According to this study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, blood and urine tests commonly used by fertility clinics cannot accurately predict the possibility of a women getting pregnant naturally later in her reproductive years. Most women have problems getting pregnant with age as the egg supply declines in the later years of life, and so does the quality of the remaining eggs. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine has said that if the female is 35 or older, a third of couples could face issues with having a baby.

Age as Real Driver in Reproductive Plans, Not Biomarker Values

The growing interest in blood and urine fertility tests has upped the demand in the OTC urine tests market that primarily deals with the measurement of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels. According to Healthcare Bluebook, FSH testing may cost more than a US$100.0, depending on the location where it is performed, excluding a fair price of US$49.0 for seeing the physician. As per lead author, Dr. Anne Steiner, blood collection and analysis could cost an estimated US$80.0 to US$200.0. Considering the availability of DIY test kits, two urine test sticks could cost an around US$20.0.

However, Steiner and her colleagues have challenged the accuracy of such tests by recruiting women aging between 30 and 44 years with no known risk factors or history of infertility. After taking their blood and urine samples, they had followed these women for one year to check if they conceived. With age, their FSH levels had increased and anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) levels decreased, as expected. However, women with low ovarian reserve had been found to be just as likely candidates for pregnancy as those with normal values.

Such tests have been praised for their success rate of predicting the number of eggs a women will make with the use of injectable fertility drugs. However, they cannot be recommended, said Steiner, as a natural pregnancy predictor.