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Will You Be Infertile?

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You know how you always see older women who have babies and didn't have any problems getting pregnant? That 38-year-old friend of your sister who just happened to get pregnant? Or your colleague at 41 who blinked and got knocked up?

It makes you wonder about your own life.

Despite all the studies that suggest that a woman's fertility starts declining in her 20s and 30s—first at 35, then precipitously at 38 and again, finally at 41—anecdotal evidence suggests it's not that way for everyone. Some women have no trouble conceiving. Others, though, have to go through years of fertility treatments. Some can't get pregnant at all, and others can't use their own eggs.

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The question is, how can you know if you're going to be one of those lucky fertile ones?

One in ten women will experience Premature Ovarian Failure (POA)—the condition where a woman's ovaries age faster than normal and causes her to lose eggs at an accelerated pace. But who?

How can you know if you should run to the nearest egg-freezing clinic and immediately retrieve your oocytes?

Until now, you couldn't. Sure, you could get your fertility checked—make sure you have no major "plumbing" problems, like endometriosis, erratic periods, PCOS— and get your hormones checked out with a blood test, but chances are if you're young and healthy and under 35, your tests will turn out normal; they won't assess how you will do over the next decade, when you finally decide it's time to procreate.

But now a new test is available for women 18-35. What's My Fertility? is a risk screening program for POA that can tell young women if they will have trouble getting pregnant in the future. It's based on a patented screening paradigm which looks at a certain gene (FMR1) that allegedly predicts future fertility.

How can you know if you should run to the nearest egg-freezing clinic and immediately retrieve your oocytes?

"After treating infertility in women for decades and hearing them tell us time and time again that they wished they had known of the risk of POA so that they could have planned for a family sooner, we were determined to find a better way to proactively identify POA in young women," states Norbert Gleicher, one of the founders of What's My Fertility and Medical Director and Chief Scientist of The Center for Human Reproduction (CHR).

Here's how it works: you fill out a family history questionnaire online, go to a lab to get a blood test, and 24-48 hours after you submit them, experts will produce a report defining you as likely no risk, increased risk, or already affected by POA. It also includes specific recommendations on how to proceed.

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For example, if you have increased risk, you should get follow-up testing to see if it's declining further. You might decide to get pregnant sooner than you'd planned, freeze your eggs, or dump that commitment-phobe you'd been dating forever and find someone more kid-friendly.

The test cost $98 plus lab fees, and is recommended for women age 24 (when fertility actually starts declining.)

"POA screening will empower women with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions earlier in life and will help them avoid the emotional and hefty costs of later infertility treatments," Dr. Gleicher said.

What do you think? Is this something you would've taken if it were available?

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