Fertility in older women and oral contraceptive use

Pills in a blister pack

Women are waiting longer and longer to have children, however research about factors associated with a delayed onset of pregnancy have been slow to take off. BUSPH faculty member, Dr. Lauren Wise, with funding support from idea hub, works to expand scientific knowledge about modern fertility and identify predictors of ovarian aging.

In one study, Dr. Wise and her team investigated patterns of oral contraceptive use and anti-mullerian hormone (AMH), a marker of ovarian reserve- one factor that predicts fertility, in over 203 women in Canada, Denmark, and the United States and the extent to which patterns of oral contraceptive use affected AMH concentrations measured during the preconception period.

Her team found:

  • past oral contraceptive use is associated with a brief decrease in the return of fertility (of about 3 months).
  • a slight increase in overall probability of conception per-cycle for long-term oral contraceptive use of 10 or more years.
  • lower AMH values among women who were older, had higher BMI, and who smoked.
  • no differences between oral contraceptive formulations.

This research identifies factors that are associated with ovarian aging and educates doctors and families trying to conceive. These results can lead to improvements in fertility testing.

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