Poor lifestyle choices can decrease ovarian reserve in women, doctors warn

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Ovarian reserve is the number and quality of a woman’s eggs (oocytes). And as the name suggests, Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR) means lower egg count and quality. Various factors such as pollution, age, stress, smoking, endometriosis, tubal disease, and chemotherapy can affect the ovaries and affect them. Women with low ovarian reserve may be infertile and should opt for procedures such as egg freezing.

There are several reasons behind low ovarian reserve. Experts explain that women are born with a large number of eggs. By the time they get their period, they only have a few eggs left. With age, the ovarian reserve decreases.

According to Dr. Nisha Pansare, Fertility Consultant, Nova IVF Fertility, Pune, exposure to air pollutants can decrease a woman’s ovarian reserve. “Anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) is a marker of ovarian reserve. AMH levels tend to decline with age. Low levels of AHM are associated with environmental pollutants. Even age and smoking tend to have a negative impact on AMH levels. Smoking has an impact on the quality of oocytes. Alcohol consumption is also linked to ovulatory abnormalities. Additionally, tubal disease, endometriosis, genetic abnormalities like fragile X syndrome also disrupt the functioning of the ovaries, leading to low ovarian reserve,” she said.

If a woman is considering delaying her marriage, then she should take the AMH test, Dr Pansare said (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

Sometimes the cause can also be a combination of environmental factors and genetic factors.

Dr Padma Srivastava, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynecologist, Motherhood Hospitals, Lullanagar, Pune, said, “Women who are prone to undergoing ovarian surgery, undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy and have pelvic infection, self- immune may also have low ovarian reserve. Sometimes the cause is unknown and may be a combination of environmental and genetic factors. Being overweight or underweight can lead to irregular ovulation. If you have a low ovarian reserve, you may experience shorter menstrual cycles, heavy menstrual flow, irregular menstrual cycles, miscarriage, or even the inability to conceive.

Decreased ovarian reserve is diagnosed by blood tests that measure follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) levels. These two hormones play central roles in menstruation and reproduction, Dr. Srivastava said, adding that early diagnosis will lead to prompt treatment with a positive outcome.

If a woman is considering delaying her marriage, then she should take an AMH test, Dr. Pansare said. “egg freezing may be a good option for women with low ovarian reserve. This will help you plan your pregnancy later. You can thaw these eggs, create embryos and conceive easily. If one has a low ovarian reserve, it is better to plan a pregnancy through in vitro fertilization (IVF) as it has a good success rate,” Dr. Pansare concluded.

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