What Is the Function of Anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH)?

By (gynecologist), (gynecologist), (gynaecologist), (gynecologist), (embryologist), (psychologist) and (invitra staff).
Last Update: 11/03/2021

The Antimüllerian hormone (AMH) is a marker used to evaluate a woman's ovarian reserve and thus assess her fertility status at a specific moment.

High AMH values indicate that the ovarian reserve is optimal. However, as the age of the woman increases, these values decrease until ovarian depletion occurs.

The analysis of the AMH levels also provides information on the most appropriate assisted reproduction treatment to achieve a pregnancy: artificial insemination (AI), in vitro fertilization (IVF) or the need to resort to egg donation.

What is the anti-müllerian hormone?

HMA is a protein present in both men and women, but with different functions and locations. Its main role occurs during pregnancy, as it is responsible for the sexual differentiation of the fetus.

In the following section, we will explain the mechanism of action of AMH in relation to the sex of the fetus:

Male sex
AMH is produced by the testes around weeks 8 and 9 of fetal development in order to prevent the development of the Müllerian ducts, structures that lead to the uterus and fallopian tubes.
Female sex
the absence of HMA allows the female reproductive system to form in the fetus. However, AMH will begin to be expressed a few weeks later, when ovarian follicles are already present.

After birth, AMH levels remain high in males until adolescence, but in adulthood, they remain low.

In women, however, the anti-müllerian hormone begins to become important from puberty onwards, as it is produced by the ovarian follicles where the eggs develop.

AMH in women

Antimüllerian hormone is produced by the preantral and antral follicles of the ovaries throughout a woman's reproductive life, i.e. from puberty to menopause.

Specifically, it is the granulosa cells that surround the egg that is responsible for synthesizing it. Therefore, the measurement of the AMH in the blood indicates approximately the number of eggs a woman has, i.e. her ovarian reserve.

The antimullerian hormone is present in all follicles of both ovaries equally and is, therefore, a biological marker of fertility.

To evaluate female fertility, other analyses will also be taken into account: FSH and LH hormone values, antral follicle count by transvaginal ultrasound, etc.

Find more information about this topic here: What Can Ovarian Reserve & AMH Tests Tell Us?

When to perform an analysis?

As we have said, the antimüllerian hormone is synthesized by the antral and preantral follicles of the ovary. These are growing basal follicles, which have not yet been selected to mature into dominant follicles.

The importance of this is that AMH values do not vary with the menstrual cycle. The blood test can, therefore, be done on any day of the cycle without influencing the results. It is also not necessary to fast.

However, it should be borne in mind that other female hormones are normally also looked at to assess fertility, such as FSH and estradiol, especially before undergoing assisted reproduction treatment.

For all this, it is more practical to perform a single hormonal blood test in the basal state, which is the first days of the cycle: 3-5 days after the start of menstruation.

AMH values

The AMH reference values are well defined and it is possible to know more or less exactly what the woman's current fertility status is at the time of the analysis.

However, since there are several methods for detecting AMH, it is difficult to compare the levels obtained between different techniques. It is best to interpret each patient's results according to the cut-off values of each test.

We will now establish the reference ranges of the technique most commonly used in laboratories, although there may be slight differences.

Very high AMH
niveles mayores de 6 ng/ml. They indicate that there may be a risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome when administering hormonal medication in an IVF.
High AMH
between 3 and 6 ng/ml. The ovarian reserve is good.
Normal AMH
between 1 and 2,9 ng/ml. The ovarian reserve is good.
Normal low AMH
between 0,7 and 0,9 ng/ml. The ovarian reserve has begun to decrease, although it is still within normal range
Low AMH
between 0,3 and 0,6 ng/ml. Suggest a low ovarian reserve and, as a consequence, the patient is likely to have a low response to hormone stimulation.
Very low AMH
levels lower than 0.3 ng/ml The ovarian reserve is almost exhausted and the woman is close to menopause. Egg donation is most likely needed to have children.

In other hormone analyses, it is possible to find the AMH values in the units of pmol/l.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that women with polycystic ovaries have the highest antimullerian hormone and that it decreases more slowly with increasing age. This implies that these women have more delayed ovarian aging.

Anti-Mullerian Hormone by Age

As a woman's age increases, her ovarian reserve decreases and, consequently, so does her anti-mullerian hormone.

The most drastic drop takes place from the age of 36, but there are some women who can count on a low reserve even earlier. This would be the case with early menopause.

Knowing the state of fertility and the ovarian reserve can help women to better plan their motherhood and make decisions like the following:

  • Preservation of fertility if she wants to become a mother in the future, i.e. freezing the eggs for later use.
  • Bringing motherhood forward to the near future in the case of a normal-low reserve.
  • Undergoing an assisted reproduction treatment if AMH has resulted in a low value.

Since the analysis of the anti-Müllerian hormone can be a bit expensive, it is also possible to assess the ovarian reserve with an ultrasound and the FSH level.

The value of AMH is directly proportional to the number of antral follicles in the ovary and, therefore, to the ovarian reserve.

In contrast, FSH values vary in reverse: the lower the ovarian reserve, the higher the FSH hormone.

AMH and assisted reproduction

Another of the advantages of this hormonal determination is that it is very useful for assisted reproduction professionals, as they can decide which treatment is most suitable for each patient, as well as the pattern of hormonal medication required.

It has been shown that there is a correlation between the values of HMA and the degree of ovarian response to ovarian stimulation. Thus, patients with high AMH may be at risk of hyperstimulation, while patients with low AMH are more likely to have a low response.

The latter, therefore, will need higher doses of gonadotropins to achieve multiple follicular development.

AMH can be useful to better predict the success of assisted reproduction treatments and to be able to make a more accurate indication of the appropriate technique for each patient.

In addition to all this, the anti-Mullerian hormone also allows a better study of fertility physiology, since its levels have also been related to the quality of the eggs. It is said that only healthy follicles, which will give rise to a high-quality oocyte, are capable of producing AMH.

AMH in men

Although this test is not as widely used in men, AMH is a good marker of testicular function.

In particular, AMH is synthesized in Sertoli cells, where sperm formation (spermatogenesis) also occurs.

Analysis of AMH in men can be performed at diagnosis of azoospermia (absence of sperm in the ejaculate). In this case, AMH helps to determine whether or not there are sperm in the testicle.

These could be removed by biopsy and used in an intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) to fertilize the woman's eggs.

However, AMH in men is a predictor that is not as effective as in women and, ultimately, better results are obtained through FSH analysis.

AMH test costs

The determination of AMH in blood is a test that can be performed within the female fertility testing or separately. Prices can vary greatly depending on the clinic and laboratory where it is done.

In general, female fertility studies cost $150-500 and include pelvic ultrasound. Apart from this, fertility-related blood tests are charged $200-400 and the most expensive ones include AMH testing.

If only the AMH test is performed, the price is about 100$.

In assisted reproduction, like any medical treatment, it is necessary for you to trust the professionalism of the doctors and the clinic you choose.

This Tool generates you a personalized report with all information necessary about the treatment you will need. Besides, there is a list of clinics in your area which we have chosen based on our selection criteria with their budget plan included. Last but not least, you will find a series of useful tips for your first clinic visit.

FAQs from users

Can AMH values increase from one test to the next?

By Blanca Paraíso M.D., Ph.D., M.Sc. (gynecologist).

La hormona antimulleriana (AMH) es una hormona cuyo valor se puede determinar en una analítica de sangre para valorar la reserva ovárica de la mujer. Esta hormona es producida por los folículos antrales, por lo que es proporcional al recuento de folículos antrales y al número de óvulos que podremos conseguir en una estimulación ovárica.

En general, se considera que la AMH es el parámetro más fiable a la hora de valorar la reserva ovárica. Sin embargo, a veces nos encontramos que los valores difieren entre una extracción y otra, e incluso nos podemos encontrar con incrementos de su valor con el tiempo. Este aumento no va en relación con un aumento en la reserva ovárica, ya que esta disminuye con el paso del tiempo.

La AMH puede tener una gran variabilidad debido a factores como los cambios estacionales, el momento del ciclo, el consumo de tabaco o determinadas enfermedades. En un estudio que valoró la variabilidad de la AMH en diferentes días del ciclo encontró una media de variación de hasta un 20%, siendo mayor en aquellas mujeres con niveles bajos de AMH.

Por ello, se debe siempre contrastar la información dada por la AMH con una ecografía de recuento de folículos antrales, y ser cautos a la hora de interpretar una única determinación de AMH, sobre todo en caso de mujeres con baja reserva ovárica.

I am 23 years old and my antimullerian hormone value is 1.2 ng/mL. Do I have good ovarian reserve?

By Rut Gómez de Segura M.D. (gynecologist).

Antimullerian hormone is only one of several factors used to measure ovarian reserve. We will have to take into account age, ultrasound (antral follicle count) and AMH (antimullerian hormone) along with other hormones that also guide us (FSH, LH estradiol). Therefore, the value of antimullerian hormone alone is not sufficient to define the ovarian reserve of a patient.

Between 1.2ng/mL and 3 ng/mL is considered a normal AMH. However, it is somewhat low for 23 years. For this reason, I would recommend you to extend the study and, if in doubt, to vitrify oocytes (freeze eggs) if you wish to postpone your maternity, in case the hormone value decreases later on.

At what age should AMH be examined?

By Elena Santiago Romero M.D. (gynecologist).

Anti-Müllerian hormone is produced by the ovary, and its blood levels are an indicator of a woman's ovarian reserve.

To ensure everything works as expected, we recommend that the first measurement is done from age 20 and not later than age 30. By doing this, if a woman has a diminished ovarian reserve at a young age, she would have time to decide whether she wants to have a baby now or cryopreserve some eggs to become a mother in the future.

What information does the Anti-Müllerian hormone analysis provide?

By María Arqué M.D., Ph.D. (gynaecologist).

Anti-Müllerian hormone is produced by the preantral and antral follicles of the ovaries throughout a woman's reproductive life.

Specifically, responsible for synthesizing it are the granulosa cells that surround the egg. The measurement of AMH in blood indicates approximately the quantity or number of eggs a woman has, i.e. her ovarian reserve. To complete the information on the ovarian reserve it is necessary to perform a transvaginal ultrasound with an antral follicle count.

It is important to remember that both the AMH and the antral follicle count are quantitative markers and do not provide us with information about egg quality. The parameter that best correlates with the quality of the oocytes is the woman's age.

Can I get pregnant naturally with a low AMH level?

By Zaira Salvador B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

Low AMH values are an indication of a low ovarian reserve. However, it is only reported that the chances of pregnancy are reduced, not impossible. It depends on the exact value obtained and other factors such as the quality of the partner's semen, the permeability of the fallopian tubes, endometrial receptivity, etc.

Why can't I get pregnant even though my AMH level is high?

By Zaira Salvador B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

A high AMH level indicates that the egg reserve is good. However, there may be other changes that affect your fertility. In these cases, it is best to have a full fertility check-up to analyze which factors can prevent you from getting pregnant.

Can you improve low AMH levels?

By Zaira Salvador B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

Basically not. AMH is an indirect measure of the number of eggs in a woman's ovarian reserve and there is no treatment to increase egg production. However, some women experience a slight improvement in their AMH levels by living a healthier lifestyle. Quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet or losing weight are habits that can improve the quality of the eggs, which could be reflected in the AMH level.

Lectura recomendada

To learn more about the women's ovarian reserve, we recommend that you read on here: What is the Ovarian Reserve and How Does It Affect Fertility?

To read more about the AMH test and other important examinations, you can read the following article: Can a Women's Egg Count be Measured with a Blood Test?

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References

A La Marca, G Sighinolfi, D Radi, C Argento, E Baraldi, A Carducci Artenisio, G Stabile, A Volpe. Anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) as a predictive marker in assisted reproductive technology (ART). Hum Reprod Update. Mar-Apr 2010;16(2):113-30. doi: 10.1093/humupd/dmp036.

G Ozzola. Anti-Müllerian hormone: A brief review of the literature. Clin Ter. Jan-Feb 2017;168(1):e14-e22. doi: 10.7417/CT.2017.1976.

Hui-Yu Xu, Hong-Xian Zhang, Zhen Xiao, Jie Qiao, Rong Li. Regulation of anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) in males and the associations of serum AMH with the disorders of male fertility. Asian J Androl. Mar-Apr 2019;21(2):109-114. doi: 10.4103/aja.aja_83_18.

Jure Bedenk, Eda Vrtačnik-Bokal, Irma Virant-Klun. The role of anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) in ovarian disease and infertility. J Assist Reprod Genet. 2020 Jan;37(1):89-100. doi: 10.1007/s10815-019-01622-7.

Leah Hawkins Bressler, Anne Steiner. Anti-Müllerian hormone as a predictor of reproductive potential. Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes. 2018 Dec;25(6):385-390.

Loes M E Moolhuijsen, Jenny A Visser. Anti-Müllerian Hormone and Ovarian Reserve: Update on Assessing Ovarian Function. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2020 Nov 1;105(11):3361-3373. doi: 10.1210/clinem/dgaa513.

Mathilde Victoria, Julie Labrosse, Fabien Krief, Isabelle Cédrin-Durnerin, Marjorie Comtet, Michaël Grynberg. Anti Müllerian Hormone: More than a biomarker of female reproductive function. J Gynecol Obstet Hum Reprod. 2019 Jan;48(1):19-24. doi: 10.1016/j.jogoh.2018.10.015.

Zehra Jamil, Syeda Sadia Fatima, Khalid Ahmed, Rabia Malik. Anti-Mullerian Hormone: Above and Beyond Conventional Ovarian Reserve Markers. Dis Markers. 2016;2016:5246217. doi: 10.1155/2016/5246217

FAQs from users: 'Can AMH values increase from one test to the next?', 'I am 23 years old and my antimullerian hormone value is 1.2 ng/mL. Do I have good ovarian reserve?', 'At what age should AMH be examined?', 'What information does the Anti-Müllerian hormone analysis provide?', 'Can I get pregnant naturally with a low AMH level?', 'Why can't I get pregnant even though my AMH level is high?' and 'Can you improve low AMH levels?'.

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Authors and contributors

 Blanca Paraíso
Blanca Paraíso
M.D., Ph.D., M.Sc.
Gynecologist
Bachelor's Degree in Medicine and Ph.D from the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM). Postgraduate Course in Statistics of Health Sciences. Doctor specialized in Obstetrics & Gynecology, and Assisted Procreation. More information about Blanca Paraíso
License: 454505579
 Elena de la Fuente Díez
Elena de la Fuente Díez
M.D., M.Sc.
Gynecologist
Bachelor's Degree in Medicine from the University of Valladolid, with Ph.D in Obstetrics & Gynecology from the University of Valencia, and Master's Degree in Advanced Gynecological Endoscopic Surgery from the University of Augvergne. Physician specialized in Obstetrics & Gynecology, and currently works as an associate doctor at the Assisted Reproduction Unit of Ginemed Valencia (Hospital Vithas 9 de Octubre of Valencia). More information about Elena de la Fuente Díez
License: 462855729
 María Arqué
María Arqué
M.D., Ph.D.
Gynaecologist
Doctorate in Reproductive Medicine at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, specializing in Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. María Arqué has many years of experience as a Reproductive Medicine and Gynecologist Consultant and currently works as Medical Director at Fertty International. More information about María Arqué
Licence number: 080845753
 Rut Gómez de Segura
Rut Gómez de Segura
M.D.
Gynecologist
Graduation in Medicine and Surgery from the University of Alcalá de Henares. Specialization in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Hospital Costa del Sol in Marbella. Dr Rut Gómez de Segura currently works as medical director in the fertility center ProcreaTec in Madrid. More information about Rut Gómez de Segura
Licence number: 28/2908776
 Zaira Salvador
Zaira Salvador
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Embryologist
Bachelor's Degree in Biotechnology from the Technical University of Valencia (UPV). Biotechnology Degree from the National University of Ireland en Galway (NUIG) and embryologist specializing in Assisted Reproduction, with a Master's Degree in Biotechnology of Human Reproduction from the University of Valencia (UV) and the Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI) More information about Zaira Salvador
License: 3185-CV
Adapted into english by:
 Cristina  Algarra Goosman
Cristina Algarra Goosman
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Psychologist
Graduated in Psychology by the University of Valencia (UV) and specialized in Clinical Psychology by the European University Center and specific training in Infertility: Legal, Medical and Psychosocial Aspects by University of Valencia (UV) and ADEIT.
More information about Cristina Algarra Goosman
Member number: CV16874
 Romina Packan
Romina Packan
inviTRA Staff
Editor and translator for the English and German edition of inviTRA. More information about Romina Packan

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