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Study raises concern about ability of tests to predict fertility
Date:10/26/2010

he general population.

Through the pilot phase of a project called Time to Conceive, Steiner and her colleagues looked at 100 women who were at risk of reproductive aging, defined as being between the ages of 30 and 45. As soon as these women came off birth control, the researchers began to measure levels of the hormones estrogen, FSH, and AMH. They then used statistical modeling to adjust for intercourse patterns and see if the hormone levels correlated with how long it took to get pregnant. The premise was relatively simple: people who take longer to get pregnant are less fertile than people who get pregnant very quickly.

In recreating the conditions used in the current fertility tests, they found that a quarter of the women had abnormal FSH levels and would be deemed infertile. But when the researchers followed these women for six months, they found that they did not have more difficulty getting pregnant than the others in the study. However, when they raised the threshold of these tests to a higher value of the hormone, they did find an association with infertility.

"So it may be that this test can pinpoint infertility, but we need to uniquely define where that cutoff is going to be," said Steiner.

The researchers also found that AMH, FSH's sister hormone, was vastly superior at predicting fertility. Unfortunately, AMH can only be measured in the blood and not the urine, and even the blood test has not been approved for clinical use. But Steiner says with further study the use of this other hormone may provide a more accurate infertility test.

Steiner continues to enroll women in the Time to Conceive study, which will eventually follow a total of 750 women for up to twelve months.

"Hopefully we can find a better way of predicting infertility so we can provide women with more reproductive control," said Steiner.


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Contact: Les Lang
llang@med.unc.edu
919-966-9366
University of North Carolina School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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