“There are several fertility tests that couples who desire children can do. For example, basic gynecological examinations in women and in men, special sperm analysis.”
Having a baby may be a dream for some married couples. Various methods and programs of pregnancy have been carried out, but have not produced results? You and your partner may need to undergo a fertility test. Through a fertility check, your doctor can find out what is causing the difficulty for you and your partner to achieve pregnancy. The doctor may perform some basic testing, or refer to a fertility consultant obstetrician and gynecologist (fertility specialist) or andrologist (for male fertility).
What Is a Fertility Check for Men and Women Like?
Fertility checks involve both partners. While you might think of pregnancy as occurring in a woman’s body, successful fertilization requires fertility on the part of the man as well. According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), 25 percent of all infertility cases have one or more contributing infertility factors. For example, 40 percent of infertility cases are caused by male factor infertility, while 25 percent of female infertility is due to abnormal ovulation.
Fertility Screening for Women
Not all fertility tests will be performed in every case. More invasive tests, such as diagnostic laparoscopy, are only performed when symptoms or other tests point to them, or when the cause of infertility cannot be found otherwise. For women, fertility screening may include:
- Basic gynecological examination.
- Test for sexually transmitted diseases. Some types of sexually transmitted diseases can cause infertility).
- Blood test. to check for thrombophilia and antiphospholipid syndromes (in case of recurrent miscarriage), as well as various hormones, including LH, FSH, thyroid hormone, androgen hormones, prolactin, estradiol (E2), and progesterone.
- Ultrasound. To look for polycystic ovaries, larger ovarian cysts, fibroids, and sometimes, to confirm ovulation. This examination is also used to check the shape of the uterus and the thickness of the uterine lining.
- HSG or hysterosalpingogram. To check whether the fallopian tubes are open and not blocked, as well as to evaluate the shape of the uterus.
- Hysteroscopy. Involves placing a telescope-like camera through the cervix into the uterus to take a closer look at the inside of the uterus. This is done if the HSG examination shows a potential abnormality or is inconclusive.
- Sonohysterogram. Involves placing sterile fluid in the uterus (through a catheter), and then evaluating the uterus and uterine wall via ultrasound.
- Diagnostic laparoscopy. This is the most invasive fertility test. This test is only done if symptoms suggest possible endometriosis, as part of treatment for blocked fallopian tubes, or in some cases of unexplained infertility.
Fertility Check for Men
Sperm analysis is the primary fertility test for men. In this case, the man will need to provide a semen sample for evaluation in the laboratory. Ideally, the test should be done twice, on different days, to confirm the results.
Usually, only a sperm analysis is needed to diagnose male infertility. However, further testing may also be performed, including:
- General physical examination by a urologist.
- Specific sperm analysis, including genetic testing of sperm (looks for the presence of antibodies) and evaluation of immobile sperm (to see if they are alive or dead).
- Blood tests, to check hormone levels, usually FSH and testosterone, but sometimes also LH, estradiol, or prolactin.
- Test for sexually transmitted diseases.
- Ultrasound, to evaluate the seminal vesicles and scrotum.
- Post-ejaculatory urinalysis (urine test), to check for retrograde ejaculation.
- Testicular biopsy, which involves removing testicular tissue through a minor surgical procedure.
- Vasography, which is a special X-ray used to look for obstructions in the male reproductive organs.
Those are the types of fertility checks for women and men. Some fertility screenings may involve both partners. Includes genetic karyotype and post-coital testing (PCT). If recurrent miscarriage is a problem, a genetic karyotyping may be performed to look for genetic disorders that may cause miscarriage. This is done through a simple blood test.
Although rarely performed anymore, PCT involves taking a sample of cervical mucus from a woman through a pelvic exam, a few hours after the couple has had sexual intercourse. It evaluates the interaction between a woman’s cervical mucus and a man’s sperm.
After the fertility check is complete, you and your partner can discuss the results with your doctor. This includes the possibility of re-examination, follow-up tests, and appropriate treatment. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor before and after a fertility check.