Tests Give Women, Men a Preview of Fertility

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(ABC News) — Annie Gerhart is a 32-year-old single woman focused on her career. She is not ready for kids just yet but would like a family eventually.

“I’m in my early 30s and I know that I want to have kids at some point in my life,” the California resident told ABC News.

Gerhart took advantage of a test that helped her find out more about her fertility, including her hormone levels and ovarian reserve. It consisted of an ultrasound and blood work.

“One of my friends in her mid-20s got married and they started to try having kids and it wasn’t as easy as she thought it was going to be and so she ended up doing IVF [for] multiple rounds,” Gerhart said. “Their difficulties made me start to think about what that might look like for me.”

Fertility tests are also available for men to determine their sperm count and motility.

Dr. Kristin Bendikson, a Los Angeles-based fertility doctor, said she is seeing a growing number of single women and couples taking the fertility tests before trying to conceive.

“If they want to get pregnant, they want to make sure that things are okay before they start proceeding on that journey,” Bendikson told ABC News. “They also want to plan ahead. Do they want two children? Do they want three children? And how does that impact when they start having a family?”

Bendikson notes the tests are not a guarantee of a person’s fertility or infertility.

“There are limitations,” Bendikson said. “These tests, some of them are new. They haven’t really been examined and looked at using it in the general population, in patients that aren’t infertile yet.”

Bendikson added, “I think you have to be very careful.”

Gerhart said she, for one, is glad she took the test.

“The information that I got from the tests has definitely helped me,” she said. “If it’s something that, you know, a woman in her early 30s is thinking about then I, personally, I don’t know why you wouldn’t do it.”

ABC News’ Chief Women’s Health Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton said today on “Good Morning America” that the test’s results should be taken “with a grain of salt.”

“My cardinal rule in medicine is don’t do a test unless you think you have an idea of what you will do with the results of that test,” Ashton said. “So could it be helpful information for a lot of women? Absolutely, but, as we heard, it’s no guarantee what will happen in three months or three years so you have to take it with a grain of salt.”

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends ovarian reserve testing for women over the age of 35 who are having difficulties conceiving.

“Ovarian reserve testing should be performed for women older than 35 years who have not conceived after 6 months of attempting pregnancy and women at higher risk of diminished ovarian reserve, the College wrote in a January 2015 report, adding that certain cancer treatments and other procedures could lead to this condition.

The report added, “The main goal of ovarian reserve testing is to identify those individuals who are at risk of decreased or diminished ovarian reserve … At this time, ovarian reserve testing results cannot be extrapolated to predict the likelihood of spontaneous conception.”

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