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How Do Doctors Test For Fertility: Everything You Need To Know

Are you and your partner eager to start a family but facing challenges? Could it be time to consider a private fertility test? But what is a fertility test? A fertility test is a medical examination or series of tests that assess a person’s ability to conceive a child. These tests can help identify any potential issues or obstacles that may be affecting fertility.

But when to take a fertility test? If you’re under 35 and have been engaging in regular unprotected intercourse for 12 months, or if you’re over 35 and have been trying for 6 months, it’s time to consult a doctor.

There’s a common misconception that it is only necessary for older women or that it solely focuses on the female partner. However, fertility tests are important for anyone who is struggling to conceive, regardless of age or gender. These tests can detect any underlying issues that could potentially impact fertility.

In this blog, we have covered in detail various topics including types of tests, fertility test for couples, reproductive organ testing, generic screening, and more. So keep reading for detailed insights.

Step 1: Tests Involving The Ovarian Reserve

Ovarian testing primarily focuses on fertility check up of a woman’s ovaries, which are essential for reproductive health. These tests examine aspects such as ovarian reserve, hormone levels, and ovarian function, offering insights into fertility potential and overall reproductive health. Similarly, for men, fertility testing and assistance involves assessing sperm health and production through semen analysis, which typically includes evaluating sperm count, motility, and morphology.

1. FSH Tests

FSH tests measure Follicle-Stimulating Hormone levels in the blood, crucial for reproductive health. In women, high levels may signal diminished ovarian reserve, impacting fertility. For men, FSH levels indicate sperm production; low levels may imply issues with sperm production, while high levels may point to testicular or pituitary gland problems. FSH tests play a vital role in diagnosing fertility issues, guiding treatment, and assessing reproductive health in both men and women.

2. AMH Tests

AMH tests measure Anti-Müllerian Hormone levels in blood. High levels suggest many eggs remaining, while low levels indicate a reduced egg supply. This test helps evaluate fertility potential and guides reproductive health decisions. For women undergoing fertility treatments, AMH testing helps determine ovarian response to stimulation drugs.

3. Antral Follicle Count 

Antral Follicle Count (AFC) is a transvaginal ultrasound-based test used to evaluate ovarian reserve in women. It measures the number of small, fluid-filled sacs (antral follicles) present in the ovaries at the beginning of a menstrual cycle. A higher AFC typically indicates better ovarian reserve, suggesting a greater potential for successful fertility treatment. While a lower count may indicate reduced ovarian reserve, affecting natural conception or fertility treatment outcomes like in vitro fertilization (IVF).

Step 2: Blood Tests

Blood tests are used to measure hormone levels, and identify the ovarian reserve, and potential ovulatory disorders. Hormones such as follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) are commonly evaluated through blood tests to determine their impact on fertility.

Blood tests also help to evaluate the ovulatory function and reproductive health. For example, a serum progesterone test evaluates progesterone levels, a hormone crucial for preparing the uterus for pregnancy and supporting early fetal development. Additionally, these tests measure estradiol, a type of estrogen, luteinizing hormone, which triggers ovulation, and prolactin, responsible for stimulating milk production. Thyroid-stimulating hormone levels are also checked because low levels can cause period problems, which might affect fertility.

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Step 3: Reproductive Organ Testing

1. Transvaginal Ultrasound

A transvaginal ultrasound, also known as an endovaginal ultrasound, is a crucial diagnostic tool used to examine your female reproductive organs. It provides detailed images of your uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, and cervix. It is typically performed to investigate various gynaecological concerns, such as infertility, abnormal bleeding, and pelvic pain, or to monitor pregnancy. The test is relatively quick, generally painless, and provides a more detailed view of the pelvic organs compared to a traditional abdominal ultrasound.

2. Hysterosalpingogram

A hysterosalpingogram is performed to assess the causes of infertility and is particularly sensitive to identifying abnormalities within the fallopian tubes. A small tube is carefully inserted through your vagina and cervix. Then, a special fluid is injected into your uterus through the tube, followed by X-ray imaging to determine the internal shape of the uterus and to check for blockages in the fallopian tubes or other issues.

3. Sonohysterography

During a sonohysterogram, ultrasound imaging captures detailed images of the structures and shapes inside your uterus, achieved by filling it with saline solution. This procedure helps to identify any abnormalities in the uterus or its lining (endometrium) that could be causing symptoms like bleeding, pelvic pain, or infertility. Sonohysterograms are also known as Saline Infusion Sonohysterography (SIS) and are valuable diagnostic tools in gynaecological care.

4. Hysteroscopy

A hysteroscopy helps doctors diagnose and treat uterus and cervix issues like abnormal bleeding, thickened endometrium, postmenopausal bleeding, and infertility. In the procedure, a hysteroscope which is a thin tube with a light is inserted through your vagina, cervix, and into your uterus. This allows doctors to see inside your cervix and uterus. If they spot anything unusual, they can take a sample for testing later on.

Step 4: Genetic Screening

Genetic testing is a medical procedure that detects changes in genes, chromosomes, or proteins. It confirms or excludes suspected genetic conditions and predicts the risk of developing or transmitting a genetic disorder.

You can also be asked to go through, carrier screening. This test identifies if you or your partner carry genes for certain genetic disorders that could be passed on to your child. Typically for recessive disorders, both parents must carry a gene for the child to have the disease. 

You may be offered screening for diseases like cystic fibrosis, hemoglobinopathies, and spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), though you can opt for others. Additionally, you can choose other genetic tests like a karyotype, which detects chromosomal abnormalities that may impact fertility. This test is often recommended for individuals with multiple miscarriages, infertility history, or chromosomal disorders. Private gynaecologists in London can do these tests for you with care and support, keeping your privacy in mind.

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Conclusion

Infertility can be quite challenging. Even though fertility tests might seem overwhelming, they’re crucial for figuring out why conception is difficult. It’s important to talk openly with your healthcare provider if you need more explanation or time to understand. Make sure all your questions get answered properly, no matter your age. When you’re ready, have a discussion with your doctor about possible treatment options. 

If you want to know more about fertility testing, feel free to contact us.