The doctor is telling Khloe that her basal antral follicle count, an estimate of how many eggs she has, is lower than most women in their early thirties.
Despite repeatedly trying for a baby, the couple never conceived. Now, Khloe’s fertility is coming up again—and her doctor may have discovered why she’s had trouble getting pregnant in the past.
In a teaser trailer for the next episode of KUWTK, Khloe visits fertility specialist Andy Huang, who does an ultrasound of her pelvis. During the scan, the doctor tells her that something might be off with the follicles on her ovaries. "These are follicles, these hold eggs, so this is just giving you an idea of how young your ovaries are," her doctor says during an ultrasound, adding, "There are fewer follicles than I anticipate for a normal 32-year-old."
"This is definitely not at all how I thought this appointment was going to go,” Khloe says. “What if I can't get pregnant?"
So what does this really mean for Khloe's fertility? Daniel Shapiro, M.D., chief clinical officer of Prelude Fertility, says that the doctor is telling Khloe that her basal antral follicle count, an estimate of how many eggs she has, is lower than most women in their early thirties.
“Though there are no established norms for each age group, 32 is still considered young so the count should be ‘high,’” he says. That means the estimate should be 18 or more follicles (i.e. egg sacs) that are visible on ultrasound. “Less could mean anything from zero to 17,” he says, adding that more than 18 is “optimal.”
Shefali Shastri, M.D., who works with Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey, says that a lower follicle count indicates that a woman doesn’t have as many eggs as other women her age and therefore might have more difficulty getting pregnant.
Here's the catch: This test doesn’t necessarily mean Khloe will have issues getting pregnant—it just means she might. Elizabeth Kennard, M.D., the director of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility and associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, says that research shows that this test can predict whether someone will have success with IVF but not with trying to conceive with other fertility treatments or without reproductive assistance, as it only takes one egg release to make a baby. But with IVF, you want to capture many eggs at once—making it difficult if you don't have many eggs to begin with.
Kennard also says this isn’t a standard evaluation for women unless they’re already experiencing infertility, i.e. trying to conceive for a year or more with no luck. “It’s not a screening test for a young woman off the bat at her annual exam or anything like that,” she says.
If you find out that you have a low follicle count, talk to your doctor. It may not mean much for your chances of conceiving, but he or she should be able to guide you in the right direction.