Fertility testing helps turn patients into parents by helping them understand what is keeping them from becoming pregnant. Many patients do not know what to expect during fertility testing and are therefore reluctant to start the process. The fertility specialists at Viera Fertility Center understand the importance of this testing for patients and are dedicated to helping their patients gain the greatest benefits of fertility testing.
Fertility testing starts with a thorough review of your medical, reproductive, and family history. Your personal and family history will determine which tests you should undergo.
Bringing a copy of your pertinent medical records, such as your reproductive health history, will help us determine where you are in your journey to parenthood.
Your doctor will perform a physical examination to assess your overall health. The doctor will also assess thyroid and breast health, along with a pelvic exam and pap smear.
Also known as a sperm count, a semen analysis measures the quality and quantity of semen and sperm to determine if they may be the cause of infertility. You will likely need to provide the sample in a private room at the lab.
Semen analysis includes measurements, such as:
- Volume – amount of semen in the sample
- Sperm count – number of sperm in the sample
- Sperm concentration – measures how close together the sperm are in the semen
- Motility – measures the percentage of sperm moving forward
- Sperm shape – also known as morphology, this reports the number of sperm that have a normal shape; abnormally-shaped sperm may not be capable of fertilizing an egg
- pH – measures the acidity of semen, as highly acidic semen can kill sperm or affect their motility
- White blood cells – may be a sign that an infection is affecting fertility
Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) is an x-ray that outlines the internal shape of the uterus. HSG can show blockages in the fallopian tubes. Doctors perform HSG by threading a thin tube through the vagina and cervix, and injecting contrast material into the uterus. A series of x-rays, known as fluoroscopy, follows the dye as it moves into the uterus and into the fallopian tubes. The dye should gradually fill the tubes; if it does not, the fallopian tubes may be blocked.
Other tests, such as laparoscopy, hysteroscopy, and sonohysterography, may provide similar information.
For best results, patients should undergo HSG 7 to 10 days after the beginning of their last menstrual period. Doctors sometimes recommend patients take an over-the-counter pain reliever an hour before the procedure, as mild pain or discomfort may develop during or after HSG. Most patients feel well enough to drive themselves home, but others benefit from having a driver accompany them.
Hormone imbalances can affect fertility. Some hormone imbalances can prevent ovulation, or release of the egg from the ovary. Others affect the follicles, which are fluid-filled sacs in the ovary which contain immature eggs; there are thousands of follicles in the ovary, and each contains a single egg.
Blood tests can measure reproductive hormones, such as:
- Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) – FSH stimulates the growth of the follicles
- Luteinizing hormone (LH) – stimulates the rapid growth of the follicle just before ovulation
- Prolactin (PRL) – high levels of this hormone can prevent ovulation
- Thyrotropin (TSH) – low levels of TSH can interfere with ovulation
- Androgens – this group of sex hormones initiate puberty and play a role in reproductive health; high androgen levels can interfere with follicles and ovulation
There are no special preparations for hormone testing.
Ultrasound uses sound waves to create images of the female reproductive organs. Doctors also use ultrasounds to monitor the patient’s response to various fertility treatments.
For more information about what to expect during fertility testing, contact your Melbourne fertility clinic, Viera Fertility Center.