You Have POA (or May Develop it Soon). What Now?
If your results reveal that you’re at risk of losing your fertility soon, what can you do?
Some women will find out through What’s My Fertility that they are at risk of developing POA. Women with POA will eventually lose their ovarian reserve (the ovary’s ability to develop healthy eggs that can grow into healthy babies), though how quickly or gradually this loss of ovarian reserve happens depends on the individual.
If your What’s My Fertility results reveal that you’re at risk of POA or already have POA, there are several things you can do now to safeguard your option of having biological children in the future.
Periodic monitoring via blood tests
Finding out that you are at risk of losing your fertility sooner than others can come as a shock, but that doesn’t mean that you have to act immediately. Especially if you learn that you’re at risk of POA early--before your ovarian reserve is depleted enough to limit your ability to conceive naturally--you may still have time to decide what to do to manage your future fertility risks. If you aren’t in a place to take action right away, the physicians at What’s My Fertility will recommend periodic monitoring of your ovarian reserve.
Monitoring your ovarian reserve via periodic blood tests (FSH and AMH) will help you and your doctor pick up on the signs of declining fertility quickly. Once the results of your periodic blood tests show that your ovarian reserve has started declining, we can use that information to decide what to do, like freeze eggs when you are still fertile, start trying for children and so on. The physicians at What's My Fertility can work with you to set up a monitoring schedule that's right for you, or you can take your screening results to your OBGYN.
Freezing eggs or embryos
One option for women at risk of POA is egg freezing. While egg freezing is not a guarantee of future pregnancies, if you freeze enough eggs when your eggs are still of good quality, you’ll have a better chance of having biological children even if your ovarian reserve declines before you are ready to have children. Knowing your POA risk status is important, because the number and quality of eggs decline with ovarian reserve. Freezing enough good-quality eggs is easier when you are young and your ovarian reserve is still in good condition.
Another option is to freeze embryos. As embryo freezing require sperm, this is not an option for everyone, but embryo freezing has an important advantage over egg freezing: It’s a much more established procedure than egg freezing, and physicians can give you a more accurate assessment of your future pregnancy chances per embryo frozen.
Some women without partners have also used a combination option: Freezing embryos using sperm from donors, along with eggs, in order to increase the chance of pregnancy in the future.
Changing reproductive plans
Not everyone is in this position, but if you are, one of the most effective ways to prevent the threat of future POA from interfering with your ability to conceive is to have children sooner. If you have children before your ovarian reserve starts declining, you end up circumventing POA completely. In fact, the current trend of women having children later in life is a part of the reason POA has become more of a problem: the average age of first birth in the US has risen steadily since the 1970s, as women are choosing to marry later and develop their careers before becoming mothers (source: National Center for Health Statistics). In earlier times, when women began having children in their 20s, even those with POA had no problem because they already had all the children they wanted by the time their ovaries started “aging” prematurely.
If you already have POA, our physicians will guide you through your next steps
What if your results reveal that you may already have POA? In this situation, our fertility experts will ask you to repeat your blood tests, just to rule out false positives. You'll have the option of scheduling a formal consultation with one of our physicians to determine your next steps--the best course of action will depend on your life situation, your plan for the future, as well as how much your ovaries have “aged.” The good news is that you’ve caught POA early, which means that treatments will be much more effective and your chance of having biological children will be much higher.