Should women in their 20s be worried about babies? Let’s talk about babies. Those hungry, crying, confusing little bundles of joy. How do you know you’ll actually be able to have one when the time comes? Doctors have taken out some of the guesswork with what’s been deemed the crystal ball of fertility – a blood test that can measure roughly how many eggs a woman has left in her ovaries and, therefore, how quickly they will run out.
What to know if you are worried about having babies
Figuring out fertility
Here’s how it happens: women are born with their lifetime supply of eggs, and these gradually decrease in both quality and quantity with age. The fewer eggs you have, the less likely you are to fall pregnant. But a breakthrough in fertility science means a simple test measuring the levels of AntiMullerian Hormone (AMH) in a woman’s blood can indicate how many eggs are left in her ovaries.
A blood test cab help calm your worries of having a baby
“It’s a blood test that measures the amount of hormones produced by growing eggs in the ovary and it gives you a good indication of how many eggs are left,” explains Professor Peter Illingsworth from IVF Australia. “Lots of things affect fertility. Smoking will make your egg count become lower more quickly, as will endometriosis and genetic factors. If the mother has had early menopause, it’s likely the daughter will too. And chemotherapy can destroy half of your egg reserve. This test allows us to track the reserve.”
But Professor Illingworth says more research needs to be done to find out how fertility is changing – and why a healthy, non-smoking 26-year-old like Janelle has the ovaries of someone approaching menopause.
A shock discovery
When Janelle was asked to donate eggs so her brother and his partner could start a family, it was an easy decision to make. She knew the baby would grow up in a loving environment with amazing parents, and that there was minimal risk around the egg collection procedure.
So it came as a shock when, sitting in the office with baby pictures and thank-you cards stuck up on the walls, surrounded by IVF booklets and diagrams of the female reproductive system, she was told that instead of donating her eggs, she should perhaps think about trying for a baby herself. Now! “I did not expect to hear I had a failing ovulatory reserve,”says Janelle. “My egg level was the same as a woman in her forties.”
“It’s my decision”
Janelle says the results shocked her, but she was happier to find out then, rather than when it was too late. “Regardless of the path I decide to go down, it’s my decision to make and one that could have been significantly more difficult had I made this discovery in five years’ time,” she says.
Janelle donated her eggs to her brother and is also thinking about freezing some, which can be saved until she is ready to start a family.
To know or not to know? For CLEO’s beauty director, Rachael, taking the test in her thirties was a strategic move to see how long she could hold off pregnancy. “I wanted to see how long I could push it before I’d need to start having kids, because I knew that being in your thirties you had to get busy,” she laughs. “I had the test and I was so surprised because I was below low.
Low is 10 and I was 6.5. I got such a shock. It was amazing because the minute I found out I was below low I wanted a baby so badly it wasn’t funny.”
Rachael says she wants more young women to have the test
After six months of trying, Rachael fell pregnant to her partner, Scott, and baby Jack arrived last year. “Truly, I believe if I hadn’t had the AMH test, I would not have my beautiful son. I can honestly say that. I’ve got the most beautiful baby boy and I probably won’t be able to have kids now anyway.”
Rachael says she wants more young women to have the test. “I think it’s something everyone should do. A lot of people think it’s playing God but I just don’t believe in that. I think knowledge is power and you should have the information. A girl at the age of 26, 27 or in her early thirties might be in a position where she and her partner are happily married but they’re not trying because they want to travel overseas, then later they miss out or they need
to have IVF, which is $10,000 a go. This test could prevent them having to go through major anguish.”
Worried about having babies? Take the AMH test
About the AMH test → It costs around $75 and any woman who wants to check her egg reserve can take it
→ It’s often offered to women with cancer because chemo can affect fertility
→ You will need a referral from your GP
How does it work? It’s a blood test. Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) is a hormone secreted by
cells in developing egg sacs (follicles). The level of AMH in a woman’s blood is generally a
good indicator of her ovarian reserve. Women are recommended to do the test if they are worried about having babies.