Beware of the “egg timer” test, researchers say
Women concerned about their “biological clock” should think twice about the anti-Mullerian hormone test because it’s a poor predictor of fertility, researchers say.
A study published this month found women might be misled by statements about the AMH test on some fertility clinic websites. The test, which is sometimes promoted as empowering for women, is also known as the “egg timer” test and “ovarian reserve” test.
While the test can be useful for doctors prescribing medications used for IVF, it is not an accurate measure of a woman’s future fertility or the quality of her eggs.
The researchers analysed the content of all information about the AMH test on clinic websites in Australia and New Zealand. Of the 39 websites, 25 included information about the AMH test.
They looked at statements about:
- the usefulness of the test
- who the test is suitable for
- actions women can take in response to the test, and
- warnings about its limitations.
Eight specific statements about the usefulness of the test were identified, many of which are not evidence-based.
While some websites were transparent regarding the test’s limitations, others had no warnings or included persuasive statements promoting the test as empowering for a range of women in different circumstances.
The authors concluded that fertility clinics should provide information based on the best available evidence and be transparent about uncertainties and limitations so that women are not misled to believe the test can predict their fertility.
Relying on the “egg timer” test for pregnancy planning can give women with normal or high readings a false sense of security about postponing childbearing and women with low readings unnecessary worry about their ability to have children. This might lead them to pay the significant cost associated with egg freezing.
Another group of researchers are currently surveying women about their experience of the AMH test. If you’ve taken the test in the last five years, you might be interested in participating in their research.
The study is exploring how AMH results are shared with women, how this affects wellbeing, and how it might influence choices and behaviours around family planning. Find out more here: http://go.unimelb.edu.au/x6di
Copp T, Nickel B, Lensen S, Hammarberg K, Lieberman D, Doust J, et al. Anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) test information on Australian and New Zealand fertility clinic websites: a content analysis. BMJ Open. 2021; https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/11/7/e046927