Fertility clinics have been promoting “fertility MOT” tests for some time as a way of checking your future fertility by testing the stock of potential eggs in your ovaries, known as your ovarian reserve, to see how “fertile” you are. New research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that these MOT tests may have no value in predicting how likely you are to get pregnant.
Ovarian reserve tests do have a use for people who are having fertility treatment as they can give some idea of how your ovaries might respond to the drugs used in the course of the treatment, but this study shows that the tests have no value in predicting your chances of getting pregnant naturally.
The researchers looked at a large group of women who had been trying to get pregnant for less than three months, and following them up for a year found that the results of the tests had no relation to the chances of the women getting pregnant.
The cost of these “fertility tests” can vary hugely. The articles covering the story suggested that they might cost around £100, but a quick google reveals that some clinics are charging more than £400 for MOT tests. The researchers were quite clear that their findings “do not support the use” of these tests to assess natural fertility – so be warned before you decide to part with any money. If you are concerned about your fertility, your first port of call should be your GP rather than a clinic charging for tests.
One of the subjects which came up during the recent debate about whether women are leaving it too late to try to start families was the idea of fertility MOT testing – for anyone who isn’t familiar with it, this usually involves a series of tests for women which look at the ovarian reserve in order to predict whether a woman’s fertility is already in decline.
Of course, it can give some very useful information about your hormones and your ovarian reserve, but there does seem to be some misunderstanding about the limits of this kind of testing. It’s important to remember if you’re opting for a fertility MOT that it’s only giving part of the picture. Most of these tests focus on hormones, but you can have perfectly good hormone levels and be unable to get pregnant naturally if you have blocked fallopian tubes.
You’d also need your partner to have tests too, as male fertility problems are just as common as female ones. And even if you had every test under the sun, nothing can guarantee that you won’t have a problem further down the line. Many couples with fertility problems go through test after test, and yet experts can never find a reason why they aren’t getting pregnant. Estimates vary as to how many couples are left with no cause for their fertility problems, but unexplained infertility is generally thought to affect between 10 and 25% of those who are having difficulty.
So, fertility MOT tests are fine if you want to find out more about your ovarian reserve, they can indicate that you may have a problem but what they really can’t do is guarantee that you are not going to have difficulty getting pregnant further down the line.