If You Think Egg Count and Quality Don’t Matter, Think Again

I was recently quoted in an article published by CNN detailing findings from a study that challenged the connection between egg count and fertility.

Since then, I have seen several subsequent articles, with headlines that can be misleading, and down right confusing. You may have read one of these and thought, “Oh — I don’t need to get my egg count checked. It won’t have any bearing on my ability to conceive.”

Wrong. Egg count and quality are important parts of a much bigger picture in understanding your fertility. But it’s not the only one. So it’s important not treat it as THE signal for fertility.

Ultimately, I’m here to help clear the air from the confusion this latest study may have caused. I want each of you to be informed and make decisions for your own bodies and family plans according to the full set of facts, not based on one study.

And so, in case you had any doubt. Please know that, yes. It is 100% smart, proactive, and recommended that you get your fertility (including egg count) checked.

If you’ve seen any of my Egg Whisperer Shows, or been at one of my egg freezing parties, you’ll hear me say that: “every woman should get her levels checked by the time she’s 25 and then if she hasn’t started her family and if it’s right for her strongly consider freezing eggs.”

Once you run out of eggs, you can never get them back. Ovarian aging is one of the most common causes of infertility in today’s modern society.

During my egg freezing parties and egg whisperer shows, I teach people how to get levels checked, how to track levels over time, and how important it is to get advice from a fertility expert who can review your personal history and family history so that you can reach your goals of having the family you always wanted.

Getting fertility levels checked isn’t as clear cut as some other health tests are. For diabetes a glucose (blood sugar) test can be very telling. The same is true for cholesterol levels.

Fertility is complex. There are multiple chapters in the book of your fertility story. One (egg count) doesn’t dictate how your story will end.

When you get your levels checked (and please do!) I want you to know this:

Just because your levels are low doesn’t mean you’re unable to conceive. I hear it and see it time and time again where women get their levels checked and for some reason are told or think because of online research that they are infertile and shouldn’t even bother trying. There couldn’t be anything that’s further from the truth.

Your levels are a guide as to when you’ll run out of eggs and that’s all. If you have low levels, get seen, start trying, consider fertility preservation. You’re not a number! And more goes into your fertility than just your levels. Your genetics, family history, uterine environment and sperm matters too!

I have patients who get their levels checked then think they can do things like change their habits like you would if you find out if you have a high blood sugar. Your fertility isn’t skin deep!

Exercising and losing weight if overweight doesn’t hurt anybody, but we don’t have that kind of control over our fertility levels the way we do over other systems in our body. You can’t exercise your FSH down, or eat anything to get your AMH up. The levels fluctuate from cycle to cycle (FSH does) and AMH meanders as well.

So before you think you’re a number and have control over these things, realize that at the end of the day you don’t. The best thing you can do is get educated, understand what the levels mean for you, and try to have a baby as soon as you’re ready.

Talk to a psychologist before you get your levels checked. Yes, I’m serious! You wouldn’t do that before you get your cholesterol checked. But this may turn into an emotional experience for you. You might need emotional support. http://www.drellieschwartzman.com/fertility-awareness.html.

Take a look at this list of questions even before you get your levels checked. I do my best to support my patients emotionally and be their fertility cheerleader but I know that no matter what I say or what mantras I give them to keep them positive with a PMA (Positive Mental Attitude) the numbers still affect their self esteem and can cause sadness and depression.

I have patients come to me that are told they have plenty of time when they’re over 40 and that they have the eggs of a 25 year old. The reality is that each egg only has a 10% chance of viability over 40 no matter how many you have. You can’t put botox in your ovaries. So if you’re having a difficult time as you’re approaching 40 or you are over 40, realize that ovarian aging could be an issue.

I’ve seen this time and time again, especially at egg freezing parties, where women compare their levels or the number of eggs frozen. It just takes one egg and your levels aren’t the equivalent of getting a score on a test. One snapshot in time doesn’t tell you the whole story. Be sure to learn everything about you so your future family plan is uniquely yours.

Seeing a fertility specialist is important. There may be more options for how to get your levels checked — many of them seeming easy and requiring no medical support. However, the human touch is irreplaceable, and it’s what I love most about the work I do. I’d love to get to know more about you, and invite you to get in touch: eggwhisperer.com

Catch more of me, and topics like this through The Egg Whisperer Show. Episodes are live-streamed on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and on iTunes on Wednesdays at 7PM PST.

Fertility Doctor, Reproductive Endocrinologist, Egg Whisperer: www.eggwhisperer.com

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