CNN recently ran a weekend special called “Baby Quest” with Kyra Phillips. It’s great that fertility issues are getting more attention, and I know the producers and reporters had the best intentions. But one of the first things mentioned was that women should get a blood test and/or an ultrasound to find out their “egg count” or ovarian reserve, because that will give them an idea of how fertile they are.
Except it doesn’t. Egg count matters a lot if you’re having IVF, but that’s a tiny percentage of women. For natural conception, most of the research finds that low egg count lowers fertility somewhat but doesn’t mean you won’t get pregnant. Why? IVF needs to get out a lot of eggs at once, but for natural conception all you need is one.
So: Don’t waste your money and emotional energy getting your egg count tested (unless you know you’re headed for IVF). Instead, learn the best ways to up your odds for natural conception. For example, in The Impatient Woman’s Guide, I describe three techniques for predicting your ovulation — and how if you’re really impatient you can use all three at once!
Egg count tests are a personal issue for me as well. I had my last two children at ages 38 and 40 — AFTER being told I had a very low egg count of 5. A friend of mine got pregnant with her third child at the age of 40 the same cycle that her FSH was 25 — an indicator of very low egg count. I later found out that these were not isolated cases, because the medical research finds that FSH isn’t a definitive predictor of natural fertility.
I’m a researcher, so I usually love having more information. But this is one case where I wish I hadn’t had the test. I was devastated after I got the news that I had a low egg count. I cried for a long time — it was like grieving, because I was afraid this meant I wouldn’t be able to have the family I wanted. But thankfully that turned out not to be the case.
Did you have your egg count tested — through a urine test (such as the First Response Fertility Test for Women), blood test (of FSH or AMH), or an ultrasound? How did you react to the results? Or did you make a conscious decision to not worry about such things until you had to?