Understanding reproductive health is crucial, especially when it comes to fertility. Anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) is one of the key markers used to assess ovarian reserve, which refers to the quantity of eggs. Many factors can impact AMH levels, including age, genetics, and certain medical conditions.
One common question that arises is whether birth control, a widely used contraceptive method, can affect AMH levels. In this article, we will explore the relationship between birth control and AMH levels to shed light on this topic and provide valuable insights for those concerned about their fertility.
What is AMH?
Before delving into the impact of birth control on AMH levels, let's first understand what AMH is and its significance in assessing ovarian reserve. AMH is a protein produced by the small follicles in the ovaries. These follicles contain immature eggs, and the level of AMH in the blood provides an estimate of the remaining egg supply. Ovarian reserve tests can help you make decisions about egg freezing. In general, higher AMH levels indicate a larger number of follicles and potentially better ovarian reserve, while lower levels may suggest a diminished egg supply.
Can birth control affect your AMH levels?
One common concern among women is whether taking birth control can influence AMH levels. Birth control methods, such as oral contraceptive pills (aka “the pill”), patches, injections, and intrauterine devices (IUDs), work by regulating hormones and preventing ovulation. So it is reasonable to question whether these hormonal interventions can impact AMH levels.
Research suggests that hormonal birth control may affect AMH levels. But it depends on the type of birth control.
One study looked at data from women on various types of birth control and found:
- Combined oral contraceptive pill led to 23.7% lower AMH
- Progestin-only pill led to 14.8% lower AMH
- Vaginal ring led to 22.1% lower AMH
- IUD led to 6.7% lower AMH
- Implant led to 23.4% lower AMH
- Copper intrauterine device led to 1.6% lower AMH
The authors concluded that birth control use is associated with a lower mean AMH level than for women who are not on contraceptives, with variation depending on the type of birth control
Learn more: Egg Freezing and Birth Control: An Overview
The amount of time you are on birth control may also be a factor. A systematic review of 15 studies concluded that AMH is unchanged in women using combined oral contraceptive pills if they were using it under six months.
However, they found a lower AMH in long-term users of the pill. But it’s just temporary – AMH levels rebounded after they stopped using birth control.
Is AMH accurate if on birth control pills?
One study compared the AMH levels of 228 hormonal contraception users and 504 non-users. They found that users of birth control had 29.8% lower AMH concentrations. Because of this, the authors concluded that AMH may not be an accurate predictor for women using hormonal contraception.
You may want to consider the timing of the AMH test when using hormonal contraceptives. Estrogen can suppress the production of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH), which are necessary for the development and maturation of follicles.
As AMH levels are influenced by FSH and LH, you could wait for a few weeks after discontinuing birth control before measuring AMH levels for a more accurate assessment of ovarian reserve. Or, you could take the test knowing the results may be lower due to birth control. It’s best to discuss this with your doctor.
Do I need to get off birth control to get AMH tested?
In general, it is not necessary to discontinue birth control before getting an AMH test. However, it's important to be aware that hormonal contraceptives, such as oral contraceptive pills, can potentially lower AMH levels temporarily while being used. This means that if you are currently using birth control, the AMH results may be lower than they would be if you were not on contraceptives.
If you are concerned about the accuracy of your AMH test or have specific fertility-related questions, it’s best to consult with a fertility doctor. They can provide personalized guidance based on your individual circumstances and help you understand how birth control may impact your AMH results. They will take into consideration factors such as the type of birth control you are using, your reproductive goals, and any underlying medical conditions. This will help ensure that you receive the most accurate and relevant information regarding AMH testing and its interpretation.
Will my AMH change if I get off birth control?
AMH can and will change throughout your life. And, it is generally believed that AMH levels should return to their baseline after stopping hormonal contraceptives.
Birth control methods, such as oral contraceptive pills, work by suppressing ovulation and altering hormone levels. Once you discontinue birth control, your body will naturally resume its normal hormonal patterns, and AMH levels should stabilize accordingly.
Individual responses to stopping birth control may vary. Some may experience a temporary fluctuation in their hormone levels as their body adjusts, which could potentially affect AMH measurements. However, these fluctuations are typically short-lived, and AMH levels should gradually return to their baseline within a few menstrual cycles.
If you are planning to assess your ovarian reserve through an AMH test, you may want to wait for a few weeks or consult with your fertility doctor to determine the most appropriate timing after discontinuing birth control. This will help ensure a more accurate assessment of your current ovarian reserve without the influence of hormonal contraceptives.
Remember, AMH levels provide valuable insights into ovarian reserve but are just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to fertility.
Does birth control help egg reserve?
Although birth control does not directly affect AMH levels or egg reserve, it can provide some indirect benefits related to reproductive health. By preventing ovulation and regulating menstrual cycles, birth control can help manage various gynecological conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, and irregular periods. By providing symptom relief and controlling hormone levels, birth control can potentially improve overall reproductive health (thanks birth control!).
Additionally, certain forms of birth control, such as combined oral contraceptive pills, may help reduce the risk of ovarian cysts and decrease the incidence of ovarian and endometrial cancers. These benefits contribute to the overall well-being of your reproductive system, indirectly supporting egg reserve.
AMH and egg sharing
If you are looking to donate your eggs through Cofertility’s Split program, where you freeze for free in exchange for donating half to a family that could not otherwise conceive, we require a minimum AMH of 2.0 (though clinics may have their own unique requirements). This is to increase the chances of retrieving enough eggs to actually split, to ensure positive outcomes for both parties involved.
You are not a number
With all the nuances involved here, it’s important not to get lost in the weeds. Fertility is impacted by so many factors that you can drive yourself crazy trying to manage all of them.
Remember, you are more than any number. This process can be overwhelming, but focusing on the things that you can control can help you feel more grounded during your fertility journey, whatever it may look like.
Cofertility is here to help you every step of the way on that journey.
Our Split program offers women a chance to freeze their eggs for free when donating half the eggs retrieved to a family who cannot conceive otherwise. If you qualify for the program and decide to donate half of your retrieved eggs, every expense associated with the egg freezing procedure — medications, supplements, travel if necessary, insurance, and 10 years of storage — are completely free of charge. We don’t even need a payment or credit card up front, as the family you match with covers all the expenses.
Or, in our Keep program, you can freeze and store your eggs for your own future use, with lower prices on things like storage and medication – as well as our team’s support and access to our community.
The benefits for of working with Cofertility include:
- Power of choice: Freeze your eggs more affordably or, if you qualify, freeze for free when you give half to a family who can’t otherwise conceive.
- Community: Our inclusive online spaces allow you to connect with others going through the process in our private online community.
- Compassion: We’ll always treat you with care, and our Split program gives you the opportunity to make someone’s family building dreams a reality.
- Data-driven: We provide you with trustworthy guidance and evidence-based research so you can make informed decisions about your fertility.
- Free egg freezing: Freeze and store your eggs for 10 years, entirely for free if you qualify for our Split program.
Ready to learn about more affordable (even free!) egg freezing with Cofertility? Fill out this quick quiz to learn about our accessible egg freezing options and see if you qualify for our programs — it only takes one minute.
Whatever your journey looks like, our team is here to guide you through it and keep your family-building options open.
Summing it up
Understanding reproductive health is crucial, especially when it comes to fertility. AMH is a key marker used to assess ovarian reserve, which refers to the quantity eggs. While birth control does not directly impact AMH levels or egg reserve, it can have temporary effects on AMH measurements while being used. The type and duration of birth control can influence the degree of impact on AMH levels.
If you are currently using birth control, it is not necessary to discontinue it before getting an AMH test. However, it's important to be aware that hormonal contraceptives can potentially lower AMH levels temporarily. This means that the AMH results may be lower than they would be if you were not on contraceptives. Consulting with a fertility doctor can provide you with specific guidance on timing and interpretation of AMH results.
If you decide to discontinue birth control, AMH levels should return to their baseline over time as your body adjusts to its natural hormonal patterns. Temporary fluctuations in hormone levels may occur, but these are typically short-lived, and AMH levels should stabilize within a few menstrual cycles. (And if you do discontinue birth control, definitely use backup contraception during that period if you’re trying to avoid pregnancy).
Remember, AMH levels provide valuable insights into ovarian reserve, but they are just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to fertility. Consulting with a fertility doctor can help you understand the broader context of your reproductive health and provide guidance on any concerns or questions you may have.