For many couples, the process of trying to conceive can be frustrating. Generally, women who are under age 35 and healthy should try to get pregnant for one year before scheduling an appointment with a fertility specialist. Women over age 35 should see one after 6 months. However, since male factors account for approximately 30% of all infertility cases, it is important that both partners undergo fertility testing.
Before any tests or procedures, the first step is for you and your partner to go through a medical history interview. Your fertility specialist will ask about a variety of conditions that may have a bearing on fertility such as diabetes, sexually transmitted diseases, thyroid disease, or hormone imbalance.
Other questions may include discussions about your past birth control use, your sex life and the reproductive histories of your immediate family members (parents and siblings). He or she will also need to know about any medication you’ve recently or are currently taking.
Following the medical history, each of you will undergo a general physical exam. Women will also complete a gynecological exam.
From here, each of you will undergo a gender-specific evaluation.
Female Fertility Evaluation
With female patients, the cause of infertility can be tested through special imaging, blood tests, hormone levels, and other procedures.
Special imaging tests can be performed through a hysterosalpingogram (HSG) or sonohysterogram to view the uterine cavity for abnormalities or other issues.
Blood tests for ovarian reserve determines the number and quality of eggs in the ovaries, and the ovarian follicle hormones; this is tested by follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), estradiol, clomiphene citrate challenge test (CCCT), and anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) tests.
One of the most common female fertility tests is the cervical mucus test. Being a post-coital test, a sample of a woman’s cervical mucus is collected and examined several hours after intercourse. The test is conducted just prior to ovulation at the point in her cycle when the mucus is most receptive to sperm. The results will indicate whether sperm can survive in the woman’s body and move freely toward the eggs. Because this test is reliant on timing, you will need to use an ovulation predication kit.
If deemed necessary by your fertility specialist, other tests that may be performed include hysteroscopy, endometrial biopsy, thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) test, and prolactin hormone test.
Male Fertility Evaluation
Low sperm count or poor sperm quality are the cause in approximately 30-40% of all infertility cases. Knowing this, the male fertility evaluation involves a semen analysis.
A sample is collected in a sterile container, then semen analysis, postcoital tests, and prolactin hormone tests are used to evaluate the sperm. These tests help determine whether an adequate number of sperm are present, the quality of the sperm, and whether the shape, appearance and activity level of the sperm are normal.
Additionally, the seminal fluid will be cultured to rule out infection.
Contact Carolinas Fertility Institute
If you are ready to explore fertility testing and learn more about what treatment option may best for you, contact Carolinas Fertility Institute to schedule an appointment.