The proverbial “biological clock” starts ticking as soon as the human female is born. She starts with one to two million eggs, which drops to 300,000 by age twelve or so, and by the time she hits thirty she’ll be down to about 30,000. Which is still okay. However, some women lose eggs faster. To avoid a rude awakening, there’s a blood test available that will reveal this problem, so that counter-measures can be taken, such as getting pregnant sooner, or freezing eggs.

bio clock

A recent NBC News story says this blood test — known as the Anti-Müllerian Hormone (AMH) test — has been widely used in fertility clinics for years. It is a simple blood analysis that measures the amount of AMH circulating in the bloodstream. The more they find, the more eggs there probably are. It doesn’t measure the quality of the eggs, and it’s not a guarantee of fertility, but if it comes back lower than normal, it’s a wake-up call. That’s why some doctors (in the US, at least) are now offering it as an option to healthy women to assess their egg situation. Accordingly, it’s being called the “Baby Deadline Test.”

Alyssa Gold is someone who was helped by the test, according to the NBC story. She had planned on getting married by twenty-six and having kids by thirty— but life worked out differently. Instead, at thirty-four, she was single and successful, and about to start an MBA program. She still wanted a family, though.

At her regular gynecology visit, she took the AMH test and found out her clock was ticking faster than normal. “I’m glad I did, because the results were not what I was hoping them to be,” Gold told NBC. “My tests were really below normal, and that was an indicator to me that I needed to move ahead with taking control of my fertility at that time and do something, which was egg freezing.”

Gold finished her graduate studies, and soon after met her future husband. She is now happily married, and at age thirty-eight she’s thinking about opening the freezer and starting a family. She’s grateful to the Baby Deadline Test for giving her that option. “If I had waited until I met my husband and we were trying now to have a child, it would be a very different story.”

Bill Rogers is a Toronto-based lawyer, journalist, and family law mediator