Ovarian reserve

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2008 Apr;1127:27-30. doi: 10.1196/annals.1434.011.


As a result of temporary social trends, many women elect to postpone their first pregnancy to a later stage in life. A large part of this population will be infertile by the time they opt to conceive, mainly because of a decreasing ovarian reserve and low oocyte quality resulting from age. Aging oocytes have been widely suggested to be the major cause for the decline in fertility. In a subfertile population, the availability of an accurate screening test of ovarian reserve would provide a valuable means of predicting the chances of pregnancy and live birth with or without treatment and selecting an optimal dose of ovarian stimulation where treatment using ovarian stimulation is planned. The following hormonal markers and ultrasound parameters have been used to attempt to estimate ovarian reserve and predict those with a poor chance of success in assisted reproductive techniques: age; concentrations of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), estradiol, inhibin, anti-Müllerian hormone; ovarian volume, ovarian antral follicle count; and ovarian biopsy. Further studies have introduced the use of dynamic tests-using gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist, FSH, or clomiphene citrate-to assess ovarian function. The use of a wide range of tests suggests that no single test provides a sufficiently accurate result. But the simultaneous evaluation of a combination of tests could be used as a marker of diminished ovarian reserve and a sensitive predictor of response to ovarian stimulation in patients undergoing in vitro fertilization treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Mullerian Hormone / metabolism
  • Biopsy
  • Clomiphene / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Fertility Agents, Female / pharmacology
  • Fertilization in Vitro / methods
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Female / diagnosis*
  • Infertility, Female / therapy*
  • Inhibins / metabolism
  • Ovarian Follicle / pathology
  • Ovary / diagnostic imaging
  • Ovary / pathology*
  • Ovary / physiology*
  • Ovulation Induction
  • Reproductive Techniques, Assisted
  • Ultrasonography


  • Fertility Agents, Female
  • Clomiphene
  • Inhibins
  • Anti-Mullerian Hormone
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone