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From birth, females have a fixed—though plentiful—supply of eggs (ovarian reserve). As a woman ages past her mid-30s, her eggs gradually degrade, making it less likely that she will naturally conceive, or that an assisted reproductive technology (ART) procedure will result in pregnancy and a healthy baby.
Among American women in their 20s to mid-30s, over 35 out of 100 give birth for each ART cycle using their own eggs. As women age, the live ART birth rate gradually drops:1
While there is no definitive test of ovarian reserve, a woman's follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) level can be measured to evaluate how well her ovaries are working. A high FSH level is a sign that the body is trying to stimulate the ovaries to make more egg follicles, but the ovaries are not responding and conception is unlikely.
A woman's FSH level can be tested using a blood sample:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Society for Reproductive Medicine, Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (2008). 2008 Assisted Reproductive Technology Success Rates: National Summary and Fertility Clinic Reports. Available online: http://www.cdc.gov/art/ART2008/PDF/ART_2008_Full.pdf.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Femi Olatunbosun, MB, FRCSC - Obstetrics and Gynecology|
|Last Revised||December 7, 2011|
Last Revised: December 7, 2011
Author: Healthwise Staff
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