Awoman is born with around 6 million eggs in her ovaries, which reduces to a few hundred thousand by the time she reaches puberty. The quantity and quality of these eggs that are present in a woman’s ovaries are referred to as her ovarian reserve. This essentially establishes her ability to procreate. Reduced chances of becoming pregnant can result from having fewer or poorer-quality eggs in both ovaries.
Pollutants in the air will most probably decrease a woman’s ovarian reserve. Anti-M llerian hormone (AMH)is a marker of ovarian reserve. AMH levels tend to decrease with age and exposure to environmental pollution. Age, alcohol consumption and smoking tend to impact AMH levels in a negative way and can lead to ovulatory abnormalities. Tubal disease, endometriosis, and genetic abnormalities like fragile X syndrome also add to a low ovarian reserve.
Signs of a low ovarian reserve
A diminished ovarian reserve rarely manifests any symptoms in females. “The menstrual cycle of some women may be shortened from 28 to 25 days. However, most women are diagnosed with Diminished Ovarian Reserve following diagnostic testing,” says Dr Jyoti Bali, Director, BabySoon Fertility and IVF Center.
Women less than 40 years can experience low ovarian reserve prematurely too due to chromosomal abnormalities or any radiation, chemo, shock therapy, or simply for no reason which is idiopathic.
“The signs and their degree vary from person to person, and usually, it’s the Type A person who is more prone to the symptoms like anxiety, insomnia, clinical depression, etc. I’d recommend one should start annual gynae checkups post 40 along with yoga and meditation,” says Dr. Priyanka Sharma, gynecologist, Amar Shakti Clinics.
Often around the age of 45, women start experiencing hot flashes, bouts of anxiety, palpitations, a burning sensation in hands, feet, and ears, like the heat is emitting from them, and a loss in the pattern of menstruation cycle which can be either reduced or delayed flow or complete absence of the cycle. “This means one is heading for menopause, and it’s normal. These are the signs of low ovarian reserve that you should keep an eye on,” adds Dr Sharma.
For women with dwindling ovarian reserves, procedures like in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) or hormone supplementation with DHEAS (dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate) have demonstrated extraordinarily positive results. “Some women with this illness may also be able to use egg donation or preserve healthy eggs in order to conceive later,” says Dr Bali.