An Anti-Müllerian Hormone test, also commonly known as an AMH test, is a test that measures the level of the anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) in the blood. To carry out this test, a specialist will take a small sample of blood from the patient, which will then be analysed and the results explained at a later date.
The anti-Müllerian hormone is made in the reproductive tissues of both males and females, though its role and whether or not levels are to be considered “normal” will depend on the age and sex of the individual. To understand why, it should also first be noted that the first important function of AMH is to help develop the sex organs of an unborn baby.
If a foetus has already developed male (XY) genes, then high levels of AMH will typically be made in order to prevent the development of female reproductive organs, while promoting the formation of male organs. If there is not enough AMH present to prevent female reproductive organs from forming, this may result in both sex organs forming. This is medically termed as “ambiguous genitalia”, and the baby’s genitals may not be identified as being either male or female. The term most commonly associated with this in the modern day is “intersex”.
If the foetus has developed female (XX) genes, a small amount of AMH will be made, in order to allow the female reproductive system to form. This changes after puberty, when the role of AMH in the female body changes. When a person who identifies as female, or is non-binary or transgender but was born female, reaches this stage of life their ovaries will begin producing more AMH. The more egg cells they have in their ovarian reserve, the higher the levels of AMH present in the body.
In adult female patients, their levels of AMH can indicate whether or not they will be able to conceive naturally. This is due to the fact that it can offer an accurate reflection of their ovarian reserve, from which eggs may be fertilised naturally or collected for treatments such as IVF. If a patient undergoes an AMH blood test and their reserves are found to be high, there is a higher chance that they will be likely to get pregnant or to conceive through fertility treatments, either immediately or at a later point in time.
Alternatively, if a patient’s AMH test reveals that they have a low ovarian reserve, this may indicate that there will be difficulties in attempting to conceive. It may often be recommended that they either start trying to conceive naturally right away or undergo a fertility treatment of their choice to ensure that they can expand their families when they wish to.
AMH tests are not only used to measure fertility potential, however. By some specialists and clinics, they may also be used to:
- Check infants with genitals that are not clearly identified as male or female
- Find out the reasons for early menopause in some patients
- Help diagnose polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in some patients
- Help find out the reason for amenorrhea (the absence of menstruation) in patients, particularly teenage patients who have not started their periods by the age of 15, or adult patients who have missed several periods
- Monitor patients who have certain types of ovarian cancer
- Predict the start of the menopause in some patients
There is little to no risk in having this test carried out, with most only experiencing brief discomfort when the needle is used. Any pain or slight bruising in the spot where the test was conducted should go away again quickly.