If you’ve been trying to conceive with no luck, you may be worried about issues that could cause your infertility. Your first step is to talk to your doctor. They may send you to a fertility specialist who will conduct tests to determine if any problems exist.
Initial Visit with a Fertility Specialist
Even before prescribing tests to check your fertility, the doctor will begin learning about potential factors that may be causing your inability to conceive. They will want to know details about your medical history, including any medicines you are taking now.
The doctor will ask about your lifestyle, such as whether you smoke or drink alcohol and how much. They will ask about drug use now or in the past and if you’ve had contact with chemicals or various toxins. Each of these substances may impact your ability to conceive.
The fertility specialist will ask about birth control methods used and if you’ve had any diagnoses of sexually transmitted diseases. You may also be asked about any previous sexual relationships or any issues you may have with sexual intercourse.
Before you attend your first visit with the specialist, you will want to keep track of your cycle, such as when you had your last period and if they are regular. They will specifically want to know if there have been any changes to your cycle or period. Once the doctor gathers this information, they can decide on which tests to order first.
One of the first steps a fertility doctor will perform is a blood test. This test checks the levels of your follicle-stimulating hormone or FSH. This hormone triggers your ovaries to get an egg ready to be released each month. If your FSH is high, it may indicate lower fertility. The levels are usually checked on day three of your menstrual cycle.
A blood test can also check your anti-mullerian hormone or AMH. AMH levels indicate how well your ovaries are functioning. If they are low, it may indicate an issue with your ovarian reserve.
Your doctor will likely perform a Pap smear unless they have access to your records from a recent test. This test detects problems with the cervix, including cervical cancer. It can also determine if you have any sexually transmitted diseases that you may not be aware of.
The doctor may have you take a urine test to check the luteinizing hormone or LH surge. This hormone increases levels just before ovulation. They may test for progesterone levels, which indicate you are ovulating if they rise during your cycle.
Another area of concern is the thyroid, which can inhibit fertility. The doctor may recommend a thyroid test to check other hormone levels. These tests can rule out certain conditions, which impact your ability to get pregnant.
Testing Reproductive Organs
If the doctor rules out other health conditions, they may perform tests on your reproductive organs. Your ovaries, uterus, and fallopian tubes all need to be in working order for you to get pregnant and carry a baby to term. Here are some tests you can expect:
- Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) – This test is commonly known as a tubogram and takes X-rays of your uterus and fallopian tubes. The radiologist injects liquid dye or saline and air with an ultrasound. This test checks to see if your fallopian tubes are blocked.
- Transvaginal ultrasound – An ultrasound wand is inserted into the vagina and looks at images of the ovaries and uterus to see if any problems exist.
- Hysteroscopy – This test uses a thin tube with a camera on the end, which is inserted into the cervix to view the uterus and detect fibroids or other issues and collect tissue samples.
- Laparoscopy – The doctor will make an incision in your abdomen and insert a camera and other tools to find and correct problems, such as endometriosis.
Not every patient will need all of these tests. Once the fertility doctor has performed an exam and taken your medical information, they will determine which tests are needed. Depending on the results of the first tests, they will decide if more testing is necessary or create a treatment plan. This is the same with STD testing. You may ask yourself how long does it take to get std testing back? It can take a couple of days to even a couple of weeks! However, some clinics offer rapid STD testing so you can choose between these two.
Fertility Tests for Men
While the woman is often the first focus for fertility testing, the doctor may also recommend tests for the male. These tests will check testicular function and sperm analysis. The Sperm DNA Fragmentation Assay is a state-of-the-art measurement of fertility health in the man. If these tests show issues, the doctor will recommend a course of action for treatment.
Fertility testing is standard with specialists as they determine what is causing you to have issues getting pregnant. If you are concerned or have questions about the tests, you should talk to your fertility specialist who can help you understand the details of what the tests entail.