Knowing your AMH - pros and cons

Women like to retain a sense of control when conception isn't happening as expected, or during IVF, and having numbers and dates to cling on to gives us that sense of knowing what we're doing and when.  Knowing your level of AMH (Anti Mullarian Hormone) has been the 'in' thing for a while at fertility circles but the amount of stress and anxiety that surrounds the AMH result has overtaken the panic about number of eggs retrieved (focus nowadays is on quality, not quantity, of eggs).  

While we used to think AMH was a useful test for women in general, we have refined our view having seen the negative impact it can have on some people.  While women whose test results have come back 'normal' or high have a great sense of optimism, the majority of women will have lower scores which induces a sense of hopelessness and helplessness.

It is vital to understand exactly what an AMH result tells you.  Richard Fleming, Scientific Director of the GCRM, (Glasgow Centre for Reproductive Medicine) introduced the use of AMH levels as a guide to inform an IVF cycle.  He has said, more than once, that he does not believe that AMH can advise on a patient’s fertility (ie help someone conceive), but it does advise regarding IVF opportunities – which that is not the same thing as ‘fertility’.  At the Natural Fertility Centre we often see patients who have an AMH of 1 or below, who still fall pregnant.

AMH levels are used to inform your fertility consultant regarding which drugs to use and their dosage.  It can also forewarn of conditions such as OHSS (ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome).

In the past, the first cycle of IVF was often seen as a trial run so the consultant could find out how each person would respond to fertility drugs but using AMH levels as a guide has made this redundant. 

Now there are kits available which advertise themselves as 'AMH home-testing kits'. These are just a way to send a blood sample to a lab (where the AMH test is done).  If you are planning on using a home testing kit, you need to know where the tests will be done and how the levels are compared.  AMH testing hasn't been around long enough for there to be a standardised gauge and what is 'normal' is still being debated.  Beware also any 'interpretations' of the results which purport tell you how fertile you are.  

It is far and away more useful to be aware of your fertility cycle, know your body and work towards being as healthy as possible, as a couple, than to become engrossed in numbers which are only intended for a clinical setting.