An antral follicle count helps to measure a woman’s ovarian reserve, or egg count. Women are born with all the eggs they will ever have. When a woman hits puberty she will begin to release an egg monthly, which is why by the time she hits menopause her egg supply is depleted.
Antral Follicle Count
These eggs can be found within a woman’s ovaries, inside of ovarian follicles. A follicle is a fluid-filled sac that contains an immature egg or oocyte. During ovulation, a mature egg is released from a follicle. Several follicles will begin to develop each ovulation cycle, but normally only one will ovulate an egg. The follicles that did not produce a mature egg will then disintegrate.
When undergoing fertility treatments your follicle growth and development are tracked. Some fertility treatments goal is to stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple mature follicles at once. A antral follicle count, AFC, is a test that helps to determine this count and evaluates the ovarian reserves.
What is an Antral Follicle Count Test?
An antral follicle count is a transvaginal ultrasound that measures a woman’s ovarian reserve. This fertility test is usually done between day two and five of your cycle. The technician will observe each ovary and determine the number of follicles within them that measure between two and 10 millimeters. Doctors hope to find eight or more follicles during this test.
This test is usually ordered to :
- help evaluate your ovarian reserves
- diagnose polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- diagnose primary ovarian insufficiency
- to help determine your fertility related to your age
Many fertility doctors believe that a woman’s antral follicle count is essential to determine fertility health. This test makes it possible to estimate the amount of eggs that a woman has within her ovaries. How many follicles she has left can help predict where she is at on her fertility timeline.
In addition to this ultrasound, it is likely that these tests might be ordered to determine overall fertility:
- Preconception genetic screening – A genetic test will help to discover if a woman may have any inheritable genetic conditions. If these genes are found, testing may be recommended for future embryos.
- Blood test – A blood test will help to determine fertility in general. It will show the levels of hormones within the body such as prolactin, follicle- stimulating hormone (FSH), estradiol, anti-Mullerian hormone, and thyroid– stimulating hormone.
How is Low Antral Follicle Count Defined?
An AFC test is hoping to find at least eight or more follicles within the ovaries. If the AFC results show fewer than six follicles, this is called a low count.
- Low count- A count of three to six follicles.
- Very low count – If an ultrasound reveals less than three follicles, this may be a sign that the mother is a candidate for donor eggs.
What Your Antral Follicle Count Can Mean for Your Fertility
Especially when struggling to conceive and undergoing fertility treatments, your ovarian reserve is important. If a woman has an average to high number of antral follicles, fertility specialists believe that they will be able to retrieve a good amount of eggs during IVF. This can help the chances for a successful pregnancy to raise.
If a woman does not produce enough antral follicles during a fertility treatment due to a low count, this could cause the treatment to be canceled all together.