There are women who lose eggs prematurely and at an accelerated pace, becoming at risk for infertility. Now a new screening aims to help detect this problem early on.
Premature Ovarian Aging (POA), striking in one in 10 women and diagnosed most at an advanced age, is where the ovaries age faster than usual, making women lose eggs fast and run the risk of being infertile.
Recently rolled out in select American states, the new test called "What’s My Fertility" is designed by the Center for Human Reproduction in New York and seeks hormonal changes and a genetic defect that makes females at risk for POA.
Dr. Norbert Gleicher, one of the developers of the test and the medical director and chief scientist of the center, dubbed it a proactive way to identify POA.
"[It] will empower women with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions earlier in life and will help them avoid the emotional and hefty costs of later infertility treatments,” he said in an official release.
"What’s My Fertility" test can be taken by women ages 18 to 35. The patented screening, costing $98 plus laboratory costs, involves an online questionnaire about patient’s family history as well as three blood tests: two looking for high follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) levels and low anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) levels, which reflect the presence of fewer eggs, and one checking for FMR1 gene mutation.
The written test report – which will classify a patient’s condition as Likely No Risk, Likely Increased Risk, and Already Affected by POA – will provide recommendations including a follow-up test or how to advance pregnancy plans or preserve eggs through freezing.
Some health experts in the United Kingdom said that while testing is useful, infertility is rooted in a wide range of issues, and that hormone levels could be an inaccurate gauge at times.
“[H]ormone tests are not always accurate. AMH levels can give you an indication of how many eggs are there, but can’t tell you if they are healthy,” warned Professor Charles Kingsland of Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust, adding it could lead women to making unexpected choices or delaying motherhood due to the false belief that they are not at risk.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the average age of conceiving the first child for women is 26 years old, a 3.3 percent rise from the 1980s.
However, more than 1.5 million women in the country still suffer from infertility, requiring limited and expensive treatments such as in vitro fertilization. IVF, which can cost up to $15,000 for a single cycle, is typically not covered by health insurance.
Photo: Esparta Palma | Flickr