Women in their 30s and 40s anxious about their dwindling prospects of getting pregnant have become a booming market for a new arm of medicine: fertility testing.
Thousands of women have flocked to have their “ovarian reserve” measured, and have made major life decisions — like whether to try to have kids sooner — based on the results of these tests, which typically cost between $150 and $350. Ovarian reserve, or the amount of eggs a woman has left in her ovaries compared to other women her age, was thought to be a key metric of reproductive capacity.
But a new study out in JAMA shows that these tests are often useless for many of the women to whom they’re marketed.
While ovarian reserve tests can still inform would-be moms about their chances of success at harvesting eggs for egg freezing or for in vitro fertilization, they are not necessarily a good predictor of a woman’s ability to conceive through sex. Getting pregnant ultimately depends on many, many complicated factors in both women and their partners — not simply how many eggs remain in a woman’s ovaries.
How fertility testing became a booming business
But getting pregnant in your 30s or 40s can also come with a lot of uncertainty about whether it’s even possible conceive, and how much time might be left before infertility sets in.
Enter fertility testing, a relatively new industry that claims to be able to help women answer these burning questions.
Several online companies and fertility centers now offer tests of ovarian reserve. At Future Family, the $149 Fertility Age Test promises to deliver “insight into your current and future fertility” in the privacy of your own home. For $150, the at-home Let’s Get Checked test determines if a woman’s “pregnancy chances are lower than…