This test measures the level of anti-müllerian hormone (AMH) in the blood. AMH is made in the reproductive tissues of both males and females. The role of AMH and whether levels are normal depending on your age and gender.
AMH plays an important role in the development of sex organs in an unborn baby. During the first weeks of pregnancy, a baby will start developing reproductive organs. The baby will already have the genes to become either a male (XY genes) or a female (XX genes).
If the baby has male (XY) genes, high levels of AMH are made, along with other male hormones. This prevents the development of female organs and promotes the formation of male organs. If there is not enough AMH to stop the development of female organs, organs of both sexes may form. When this happens, a baby's genitals may not be clearly identified as male or female. This is known as ambiguous genitalia. Another name for this condition is intersex.
If the unborn baby has female (XX) genes small amounts of AMH are made. This allows for the development of female reproductive organs. AMH has a different role for females after puberty. At that time, the ovaries (glands that make egg cells) begin making AMH. The more egg cells there are, the higher the level of AMH.
In women, AMH levels can provide information about fertility, the ability to get pregnant. The test may also be used to help diagnose menstrual disorders or to monitor the health of women with certain types of ovarian cancer.
An AMH test is often used to check a woman's ability to produce eggs that can be fertilized for pregnancy. A woman's ovaries can make thousands of eggs during her childbearing years. The number declines as a woman gets older. AMH levels help show how many potential egg cells a woman has left. This is known as the ovarian reserve.
If a woman's ovarian reserve is high, she may have a better chance of getting pregnant. She may also be able to wait months or years before trying to get pregnant. If the ovarian reserve is low, it may mean a woman will have trouble getting pregnant, and should not delay very long before trying to have a baby.
AMH tests may also be used to:
Predict the start of menopause, a time in a woman's life when her menstrual periods have stopped and she can't become pregnant anymore. It usually starts when a woman is around 50 years old.
Find out the reason for early menopause
Help find out the reason for amenorrhea, the lack of menstruation. It is most often diagnosed in girls who haven't started menstruating by the age of 15 and in women who have missed several periods.
Help diagnose polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal disorder that is a common cause of female infertility, the inability to get pregnant
Check infants with genitals that are not clearly identified as male or female
Monitor women who have certain types of ovarian cancer
If you are a woman trying to get pregnant, your results can help show what your chances are for conceiving. It can also help you decide when to try to get pregnant. A high level of AMH can mean your chances are better and you may have more time before trying to get pregnant.
A high level of AMH may also mean you have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). There is no cure for PCOS, but symptoms can be managed with medications and/or lifestyle changes, such as maintaining a healthy diet and waxing or shaving to remove excess body hair.
A low level can mean you may have trouble getting pregnant. It can also mean that you are starting menopause. A low level of AMH is normal in young girls and in women after menopause.
If you are being treated for ovarian cancer, your test can show whether your treatment is working.
In a male infant, a low level of AMH may mean a genetic and/or hormonal problem causing genitals that are not clearly male or female. If AMH levels are normal, it may mean the baby has working testicles, but they are not in the right location. This condition can be treated with surgery and/or hormone therapy.