Ovarian Reserve and Ovulation

Fertility and Ovarian Reserve: Checking Your Eggs

Ovarian reserve refers to the health, quality, and age of the ovaries and the eggs (oocytes) contained in your ovaries. You can test or measure your ovarian reserve to discover if you may be facing fertility issues or to find out if your ovarian reserve is diminished. FSH Tests can help you determine issues with ovarian reserve. You typically take consecutive FSH tests on CD3 through CD5 or so. An FSH test provides useful information regarding ovarian reserve, egg quality - including an early warning to diminished ovarian reserve or the proximity to menopause.

Elevated levels of FSH during the testing window indicate possible issues with ovarian reserve. If you are experiencing symptoms or issues relating to fertility, and FSH test may be advised, particularly if you are over age 35, have one ovary, exhibit symptoms of menopause or peri-menopause, or have a history of early menopause in your family.

Ovulation Facts Review

  • The ovum survives for just twelve to twenty-four hours after ovulation. If fertilization does not take place, it will disintegrate after about 24 hours. Fertilization must take place within this time window.
  • During ovulation, only one egg is released (from one of your two ovaries).
  • Implantation of a fertilized egg (embryo) typically takes around six days or more after ovulation.
  • Each woman is born with tiny ova (oocytes) that they carry throughout their lives.
  • As you grow older, the quality and count of ova decreases. “Ovarian Reserve” refers to the amount of fertilizable eggs you have. An FSH test can inform you about you ovarian reserve and your proximity to menopause.
  • A menstrual period can take place even if ovulation has not occurred. This is why a bbt “thermal shift” is the best way to identify that you have ovulated. Fertility charting will tell you the exact day you ovulate.
  • Mid-cycle pains (or mittelschmerz) can take place prior and during ovulation. You can note this pains on your fertility chart.
  • Cycle regularity can be impacted by hormonal balance, and also by stress, insomnia, illness and physical health. Excess weight - or being underweight - can inhibit cycle regularity or prevent you from ovulating regularly.

What are your Odds of Conceiving?

Your month-by-month odds of conceiving depend on numerous variables. Fertility charting and timing intercourse increase your chances a great deal! Of course, other factors like age and health can contribute as well. As a general rule, you have about a 15-25% chance of conceiving each month. On average, it will take couples 6 or so months to conceive a baby.

After age 30, your odds of conceiving each cycle do decrease however. As a general rule, if after 9 months to a year of trying, if you have not achieved pregnancy, you may wish to consult with your doctor regarding possible fertility issues, treatments, or options. However, don’t jump to conclusions or diagnose yourself with a problem just because TTC is taking a bit longer than you expected. Symptoms like anovulation - or a very irregular cycle (missed period, etc – may also indicate that a talk with your doctor may be in order.

Moreover, do not forget that sperm health and male fertility is also a key variable in subfertility issues.

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My husband and I have tried to conceive for 10 years. Several years ago, it was thought that I had PCOS. I was treated with increasing levels of Clomid and Glucophage for nearly 3 years. Then a fertility doctor thought that ovarian drilling could work, so we did that. Now about six years later, I am finding out that I likely never truly had PCOS, and at age 30, it has just been determined that I have poor ovarian reserves, based on high day 3 FSH and LH and low Anti-Meulleran Hormone. I am really wondering if this could have been caused by misdiagnosed PCOS and the subsequent ovarian drilling. There seems to be no other possible factor that could have caused premature poor ovarian reserves. Now I am terrified that we may have no hope now of ever conceiving. We are going to seek out all of our options and pull out all the stops, so to speak. But still it really scares me. I am not sure what to think anymore.

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By TTC veteran and mother of two, Elizabeth Andrews.