Your body naturally produces anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) in your blood. This hormone plays a role in developing a baby's reproductive organs in the womb but is also important throughout your life. Your AMH levels and the role this hormone plays for your body varies based on your age and sex.
Anti-Mullerian Hormone Levels in the Womb
When you become pregnant, your baby’s sex organs begin developing in the first few weeks. Your baby has XY (male) genes or XX (female) genes. Males have much higher AMH levels while females have lower levels of the hormone.
For male infants, AMH plays a role in preventing female organs from forming while in the womb. Sometimes a male baby doesn’t produce high enough levels of AMH. When this happens, it’s possible to have both sex organs or indistinguishable genitalia. This condition is called ambiguous genitalia or intersex.
For female infants, only a small amount of AMH is necessary for sex organ production. The hormone is more important after puberty as your body begins making eggs and preparing for reproduction.
Anti-Mullerian Hormone Levels for Reproduction
If you’re female and have concerns about your reproductive abilities, talk to your doctor. An anti-mullerian hormone test may give you information about your fertility and the likelihood of getting pregnant.
If you have any health concerns related to your female sex organs, an anti-mullerian hormone test can also give your doctor information about your menstruation. If you have some types of ovarian cancer, the test is also a good way to help monitor your reproductive health.
Understanding an AMH Test
An anti-mullerian hormone test is used to measure the levels of AMH in your blood. Doctors often request blood work that offers AMH results for women who are having difficulty conceiving.
Your ovaries can produce thousands of eggs over the course of your life. Your AMH levels relate to the number of eggs available for fertilization. Your AMH levels naturally decline as you age. If you’re older, you may have fewer or no eggs available.
Even if you are in your childbearing years, you may have a health condition that affects your ability to become pregnant. An AMH blood test helps your doctor understand your potential for pregnancy. It’s important to know that you may need additional lab tests to learn more about your ability to become pregnant.
Your doctor may also request an anti-mullerian hormone test to:
- Find out when you will enter menopause.
- Help find a reason for beginning menopause earlier than expected (the average age is 51).
- Learn why your body is not menstruating. This test is common for teenagers 15 and older who haven’t begun menstruating or women who miss several monthly cycles in a row.
- Diagnose polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which is a hormone disorder that can increase an inability to conceive.
- Check your baby if they have both or indistinguishable sex organs.
- Monitor your health and healing if you have certain ovarian cancers.
Reasons for an AMH test. An AMH test isn’t a stand-alone test to tell your doctor what is right or wrong with your health. Instead, it is a smaller piece of information that can help your doctor narrow down health conditions and treatment options.
For example, if you’re struggling to conceive, an AMH blood test may help show your chances of conceiving naturally. Your doctor can also read the results to predict if your body will respond to conception treatments like in vitro fertilization (IVF).
You should talk to your doctor about an AMH test if you:
- Suspect you have a menstrual disorder
- Have severe acne that doesn’t respond to over-the-counter treatment
- Are female and notice excessive body and facial hair
- Have breasts that get smaller without cause
- Gain weight without reasonable explanation
- Are undergoing ovarian cancer treatment
Understanding AMH level test results. If you have a normal level of AMH in your blood, you probably have a good chance of conceiving. High levels of AMH may be a sign that you have PCOS. Your doctor may want you to begin treatment or make lifestyle changes to address your symptoms.
Low levels of AMH are a sign that you have fewer eggs available for fertilization and may struggle to get pregnant. Keep in mind that lower levels are normal if you’re at a pre-menstrual age or post-menopausal.
Factors affecting an AMH test. Your AMH test may be affected by outside factors. Before requesting the test for you, your doctor may talk to you about your family history and lifestyle choices.
- Family history or previous diagnosis of polycystic ovary syndrome
- Previous ovarian surgery to address health concerns
- Having received chemotherapy treatment
- Taking an oral birth control medication
- Being obese
- Having certain genetic mutations that increase your likelihood of developing breast or ovarian cancer
- Having a vitamin D deficiency