JUL 09, 2020 6:51 AM PDT

Women's Hair Holds Fertility Clues

WRITTEN BY: Tara Fernandez

A new predictive tool for measuring women’s fertility uses an unlikely biological source for answers: hair. During the initial phases of the hair growth cycle, hair shafts under the skin are “fed” with nourishment by a network of blood vessels. At this time, anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH), a glycoprotein hormone whose levels are correlated with fertility, is absorbed into the hair shaft. 

AMH levels are a common metric in fertility assessments and are thought to provide insights into how many eggs a woman has left in her ovaries. Higher AMH levels correspond to higher chances of being able to conceive spontaneously in women between the ages of 30 and 44. 

These test results are particularly valuable to women undergoing in vitro fertilization, or IVF. At the latest European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology virtual meeting, research was presented showcasing how hair samples could provide more accurate AMH level measurements for women in the process of IVF. A group of over 150 women had both hair and blood samples taken to quantify the amount of AMH in their bodies. Ultrasounds of their ovaries were also taken to count the number of eggs present in their ovaries. The analysis revealed that AMH present in the participants’ hair was a much better indicator of the long-term average levels of the hormone. In the future, experts believe this could be used as a better predictive tool for clinical fertility procedures.

“Hair is a medium that can accumulate biomarkers over several weeks, while hormone levels in blood can fluctuate rapidly in response to stimuli,” said study lead Sarthak Sawarkar from the US fertility company MedAnswers.

Studies indicate that one in three US adults have either used fertility treatments themselves, or know someone who has. The chances of becoming pregnant through IVF depend heavily on the age and number of a woman’s eggs. On average, only under 40 percent of assisted reproduction cycles for women under 35 results in a live birth, with these numbers diminishing with age. More sensitive and accurate predictive tools such as the AMH hair test may help to better tailor fertility treatments and increase the chances of a healthy pregnancy.

 

Sources: European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, New Scientist, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

 

About the Author
  • Tara Fernandez has a PhD in Cell Biology and has spent over a decade uncovering the molecular basis of diseases ranging from skin cancer to obesity and diabetes. She currently works on developing and marketing disruptive new technologies in the biotechnology industry. Her areas of interest include innovation in molecular diagnostics, cell therapies, and immunology. She actively participates in various science communication and public engagement initiatives to promote STEM in the community.
You May Also Like
SEP 24, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
2-In-1: Stroke Scans Also Diagnose COVID
SEP 24, 2020
2-In-1: Stroke Scans Also Diagnose COVID
King’s College London researchers took a closer look at emergency room CT scans of patients suspected of having a ...
SEP 28, 2020
Cancer
A New Transcriptomics Program in the Works Glioma Diagnosis
SEP 28, 2020
A New Transcriptomics Program in the Works Glioma Diagnosis
The future of medicine is “personalized healthcare.” However, testing remains a critical hurdle researcher&r ...
OCT 19, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Making Capillary Electrophoresis Accessible for Any Lab
OCT 19, 2020
Making Capillary Electrophoresis Accessible for Any Lab
Analyzing nucleic acids through gel electrophoresis has been a staple of genetic research for decades. But using traditi ...
OCT 20, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Non-coding RNA As A Barometer For Liver Health
OCT 20, 2020
Non-coding RNA As A Barometer For Liver Health
October is liver cancer awareness month — a month dedicated to educating people about the risk factors and prevent ...
NOV 15, 2020
Neuroscience
Hearing Test Can Predict Autism in Newborns
NOV 15, 2020
Hearing Test Can Predict Autism in Newborns
For some time now, researchers have been aware that children and adults with autism tend to have different sensory syste ...
DEC 31, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Silent Mice Drive Autism Gene Discovery
DEC 31, 2020
Silent Mice Drive Autism Gene Discovery
Around 1 in 54 children in the U.S. are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, a broad range of conditions tha ...
Loading Comments...