Anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) has gained significant attention in the field of reproductive medicine as a valuable marker of ovarian reserve. It provides insight into egg quantity and can be useful in assessing fertility health and predicting the chances of egg freezing success.
However, there are certain medications that can potentially influence AMH levels, raising questions about the accuracy and interpretation of AMH testing while on them. In this article, we will explore the relationship between medications and AMH levels, shedding light on the impact of specific drugs and discussing their implications for women's reproductive health.
What is AMH?
AMH is a hormone produced by the cells within ovarian follicles. Its primary role is to promote the growth and development of follicles. AMH levels are generally stable during the menstrual cycle, making it a reliable marker for assessing ovarian reserve. It is measured through a simple blood test and has become an important tool in fertility evaluations and treatment planning.
What causes AMH to change?
AMH levels naturally decline as we age. The highest levels of AMH are typically found in women during their early reproductive years, and the levels gradually decrease as we approach menopause… making age the most common reason for AMH to change.
But there are other reasons AMH may change over time. The most common reason is simply age. Since AMH is considered a reliable marker of ovarian reserve, which refers to the quantity of eggs remaining in the ovaries, this hormone naturally decreases as we get older.
Certain medical conditions, such as ovarian tumors, can also affect AMH levels. Additionally, treatments like chemotherapy or radiation therapy that target the ovaries can significantly reduce AMH levels.
While the direct impact of lifestyle factors on AMH levels is not yet fully understood, some studies suggest that factors such as smoking, obesity, and extreme exercise may be associated with lower AMH levels. However, more research is needed to establish definitive conclusions.
Lastly, certain medications can impact AMH levels. For example, oral contraceptives and drugs like clomiphene citrate used in fertility treatments can temporarily decrease AMH levels. On the other hand, supplements like DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) and vitamin D have been associated with increased AMH levels. We’ll go more into detail about these below.
Remember that individual variations exist, and AMH levels should be interpreted in conjunction with other fertility assessments to gain a comprehensive understanding of your reproductive health. If you have concerns about your AMH levels or fertility, it's best to consult with a fertility doctor for personalized guidance and recommendations.
What medications can affect AMH levels?
Several medications have been found to influence AMH levels, potentially complicating its interpretation as a marker of ovarian reserve. Here are some examples:
Oral birth control
Oral contraceptives are commonly used for birth control and to regulate menstrual cycles. Studies have suggested that oral contraceptive use may lead to decreased AMH levels in the short term.
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.
Metformin is a medication commonly used in the treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a complex endocrine disorder associated with metabolic and reproductive disturbances, and for managing insulin resistance. Research has shown that metformin use may be associated with decreased AMH levels.
Clomiphene citrate (brand name Clomid©), is a medication used to stimulate ovulation in women who are trying to conceive. Similar to metformin, clomiphene citrate has been associated with decreased AMH levels. When undergoing fertility treatments involving clomiphene citrate, you’ll want to take this potential impact into account when interpreting AMH results.
What supplements can affect AMH levels?
DHEA is a natural hormone that can be converted into other hormones in the body, including testosterone and estrogen. Some studies have suggested that supplementation with DHEA may lead to increased AMH levels. These findings suggest that certain nutritional interventions may have a positive effect on ovarian reserve.
Vitamin D is essential for overall health and has been linked to various biological processes in the body, including reproductive health. Some research indicates that vitamin D supplementation may lead to increased AMH levels. However, more studies are needed to fully understand the relationship between vitamin D and AMH levels.
Is there anything I can take to increase AMH levels?
While there are medications and supplements that have been associated with changes in AMH levels, the impact of these medications is typically temporary or specific to certain conditions.
Currently, there is no definitive medication or treatment specifically designed to increase AMH levels. However, there are lifestyle factors that may positively influence overall reproductive health, such as maintaining a healthy weight, adopting a balanced diet, managing stress levels, and avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. These lifestyle choices can contribute to optimal ovarian function and potentially support healthy AMH levels.
Summing it up
AMH testing has revolutionized our ability to assess ovarian reserve and guide fertility treatment decisions. However, it's crucial to consider the potential influence of certain medications on AMH levels. Understanding how specific drugs and supplements may affect AMH results can help you interpret the findings accurately and make informed decisions about fertility treatments.
Remember that these effects are usually temporary or specific to certain conditions. It's always best to consult with your fertility doctor who can provide personalized guidance based on your specific situation.
Better yet, focusing on maintaining a healthy lifestyle, managing stress levels, and adopting a balanced diet can contribute to overall reproductive health and support optimal ovarian function. By staying informed and working closely with your healthcare team, you can navigate the complexities of AMH testing and make informed decisions about your fertility journey.
Cofertility is a human-first fertility ecosystem rewriting the egg freezing and egg donation experience. With our Freeze by Co platform, women can freeze their eggs for free when they donate half of the retrieved eggs to a family who can’t otherwise conceive. We are obsessed with improving the family-building journey — today or in the future — and are in an endless pursuit to make these experiences more positive.