I’m one of those people who has always been anxious about my health.
The first time I used a tampon at 14, I convinced myself I had toxic shock syndrome and was slowly dying. There was no cure (there definitely is a cure) and a painful, brutal death was simply inevitable. It was all very sad and as much as I wanted to tell my family, I just couldn’t bear the pain they would feel at losing their daughter to a tampon.
When I eventually broke the news to my mum, she laughed at me and told me that a vague headache and an upset tummy probably weren’t symptoms of a rare disease, and were far more likely to be related to the anxiety I was experiencing about my imminent death.
At first I was annoyed by her rudeness, but it didn’t take long for me to feel better.
Now, as a woman in her mid-twenties who wants to one day have children, my anxiety has attached itself to the idea of having fertility issues.
Deep down, I believe I have endometriosis or polycystic ovarian syndrome (despite not having symptoms of either) or some other undiagnosed problem with my ovaries, and I’ve always had a feeling that when I try to have kids, I won’t be able to.
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This is compounded by the fact that I’ve been very irresponsible with the pill for 12 years and have never accidentally fallen pregnant. This can only mean one thing, and we all know what it is.
The niggling thought of my faulty ovaries has plagued me for a number of years now. I’ve desperately wanted to walk into a doctor’s office and yell: CAN I HAVE BABIES OR NO, but I thought that was a… ridiculous expectation. I was convinced there was no way to find out anything about your fertility unless you went to a gynecologist, had a bunch of invasive, unpleasant tests, and paid a lot of money.
That was until I heard about something called an AMH test.
AMH stands for Anti-Mullerian Hormone, and via a blood test, it’s possible to measure the levels of this hormone in a woman’s blood stream. The hormone is produced by Granulosa cells, which surround every egg in a woman’s ovary. Your AMH level, therefore, corresponds to how many eggs you have left. Obviously, eggs decline in numbers with age, and a doctor will compare your AMH level with the expected range for your age.
It's important to note, however, that this test does not tell you anything about the quality of your eggs. In fact, there is no good test for egg quality.
For example, you might get a low result and fall pregnant straight away, because the quality of your eggs is high. On the contrary, your AMH level might be high, but you may still have trouble conceiving.
An AMH test is just one part of what should be an overall assessment of your chances of conceiving.
And because I'm anxious and want as many answers about what the hell is happening in my body as possible, I wanted one.
Luckily, it doesn’t matter if you’re on the pill or any other type of contraception – you can still have the blood test. Unfortunately, it isn’t covered by medicare, so it costs $98.