The “Biological Clock” Can Now be Measured Tangibly

Most of us have heard of that threatening “biological clock,” or the amount of time a woman has left to conceive before menopause begins and eggs are no longer released. It has been the butt of many jokes, the punch line in movies and the bane of existence for the men of the world who aren’t “quite ready” to settle down and start that family just yet. However, now researchers believe that they have found a way to more accurately predict when each individual woman can expect to reach the end of the fertile period of her life.


There are many medical advantages to being able to predict when a woman will no longer be fertile. If a couple is trying to conceive, this test will be able to detect if a woman is producing the normal levels of AMH which reflects the ovaries activity and also approximately how many eggs she has left. Now it will be possible for these couples to take action based on the test result, so they know about how long they have left to try and conceive using other methods. It can also help women who are waiting to have a baby until they are in their 30s to see how long they realistically may have before reaching menopause, therefore allowing them to have a more accurate timeline for beginning a family.


One other benefit that many may not have considered is one that researchers are the most hopeful about. When counseling young female cancer patients about treatment options, one of the main aspects they touch on is how fertility may be impacted by the potential treatment. Now, with the help of this new test, doctors will be able to check the treatment’s impact right away and also more accurately discuss preserving fertility before beginning these treatments.


So how does this new type of testing work and how was it discovered?


Essentially, the most important finding was the discovery of what normal levels of AMH are for women who are fertile. In order to find this, a survey in the U.K. observed 3,200 samples from healthy women and girls in order to find an average level of this hormone. Based on the variety of age group samples, there is now a better understanding of what the level should be per age. Doctors will be able to tell a patient if she falls in or below the average level for her age which will further determine her fertility.


This can help doctors steer their patients in the right direction when it comes to fertility treatments. While doctors have always known that low AMH levels make the chances of successful IVF ( in vitro fertilization) treatments less likely, they will now have a more precise understanding of whether it should even be attempted.


Currently the testing is done in the form of a blood sample, but researchers are hoping they will soon learn how to test these levels in urine as well.


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