When a baby girl is born, she has all her eggs and will start to release them upon starting her periods later in life. Essentially, women are born with their lifetime supply of eggs. The eggs are lost gradually until menopause, when very few remain and they are no longer released.
An antral follicle count ultrasound scan shows how many proto-eggs a woman produces that month, which suggests a similar number in a treatment cycle in a month soon after. This then indicates her fertility potential and the possibility of effective fertility treatment. Combined with other tests, it is a simple procedure and one of many that can determine a woman’s fertility potential. As part of the same scan doctors will usually check for any basic physical anomalies; such as cysts, fibroids and polyps.
What are Antral Follicles?
Antral follicles are small fluid-filled sacs found inside a woman’s ovaries. They measure just 2-9mm in diameter and secrete hormones which then influence different stages of the menstrual cycle. Each follicle is able to release an egg for fertilisation. Their size and status are an indication of a woman’s fertility; they can be measured and counted during a transvaginal ultrasound.
What Happens if My Antral Follicle Count is Low?
If you have a low antral follicle count, you shouldn’t immediately worry. The quality is more important than the quantity. Within a natural menstrual cycle, you only release one egg anyway and it only takes that one egg to conceive a baby. What this means is, a low antral follicle count doesn’t necessarily mean you need fertility treatment. The older you get, the lower your count will be. The quality of your follicles will also reduce with age.
A common number of antral follicles could be anything from 8 to 15. During IVF treatment, your doctor will prescribe medication that will stimulate your ovaries. This will encourage your follicles to mature. If your antral follicle count is low, you might not respond to these drugs as well as a woman with a higher count.