New blood test reveals timeline for women trying to conceive


by JIM BERGAMO / KVUE News and photojournalist DENNIS THOMAS and video editor ROB DIAZ

Bio | Email | Follow: @JimB_KVUE

Posted on May 16, 2013 at 6:31 PM

Updated Thursday, May 16 at 8:37 PM

AUSTIN -- A relatively new blood test can help make the dream of having children a reality for women who are trying to have children later in life. 

The results help doctors and patients make a more accurate plan for pregnancy.

The test involves the AMH hormone -- which measures a woman's ovarian reserve. It's sort of like measuring how much gas is left in your car.

Doctors say a low test score doesn't mean a woman can't get pregnant. It just may means a woman may want to try to get pregnant sooner.

Lisa Cantrell discussed her physical condition with Dr. Natalie Burger, a fertility specialist at Texas Fertility Center. Lisa and her husband Kevin got married three years ago. Even though she is in her early 40's, they decided to try to have a child.

"We just went for it," she said.

But it wasn't that easy.

"We know that women are actually born with all the eggs they're going to have, and that overtime they lose eggs and the eggs that are left have actually decreased in quality as well," said Natalie Burger, M.D., a reproductive endocrinologist.

Burger suggested the AMH hormone blood test. She says it provides a far more accurate picture of a patient's ovarian timeline without the restrictions and inaccuracies of previous tests.

"We knew that when we found a lower AMH level for her it was very important for us to be aggressive in terms of how we pursued things. So we didn't lose our window of availability," said Burger.

The test gave Cantrell's something money can't buy.

"The results also gave us a lot of comfort that we had a chance," said Kevin.

A 20 percent chance -- but a chance nonetheless. 

Doctor Burger implanted  five embryos into Lisa.  Five months later Chloe Elizabeth could be seen sonograms.

"When I just look at my stomach, and I see her moving, and I see her in every sonogram, it's priceless and speechless," said Lisa. "She's a miracle, and I thank God every day for her."

A miracle for Lisa's mother too -- who will soon get to hold her first grandchild.

"I never thought it would happen, but I always prayed," said Elizabeth Mazzara.  "I said, 'God, if you want it to be, it's going to happen, and this is it. If it wasn't meant to be, it wouldn't have happened, and I am thrilled."

Dr. Burger says because no one is the same -- even women in their 20's or early 30's can have egg quantity issues, so screening is important.

Patient cost varies from $70 to $400 depending on the lab the test is sent to by the doctor’s office.

Insurance will cover the test if the patient has “fertility testing” coverage which varies per individual and plan.

Click here to visit the Texas Fertility Center website.