About 11% of women and 9% of men in the United States experience fertility problems in their reproductive years. You’re considered to be an infertile couple if the woman is under 35 and you’ve tried to get pregnant through unprotected intercourse for at least a year, or if the woman is over 35 and you’ve been trying for at least six months.
If you’ve been disappointed month after month and are now in the infertile category, fertility tests can help determine where the problem is so your doctor can recommend ways to resolve or circumvent it. But what tests do you need?
Both partners are tested
In one-third of cases, infertility originates with the woman, in one-third of cases, infertility originates with the man, and in the other one-third, either both partners have fertility issues or no cause can be identified. During your consultation at Columbia Fertility Associates, your doctor conducts tests on both you and your partner at any of their convenient locations in Washington, DC, Bethesda, Maryland, and Arlington, Virginia.
Tests for women
The fertility tests that a woman undergoes help determine if all of her reproductive organs are functioning optimally and if she ovulates regularly.
Some exams and tests you can expect are:
Your provider does an internal pelvic exam and palpates your abdominal area to detect possible abnormalities, such as uterine fibroids or ovarian cysts.
By taking a sample of your blood, we can determine if your hormones are balanced and whether or not you’re ovulating. We also evaluate the health of your thyroid, which produces the regulatory thyroid hormone.
Your doctor may order an ultrasound to check for fibroids or to determine if your ovaries are releasing eggs regularly.
We may give you at-home tests so you can determine when you ovulate, so that you can increase your chances of getting pregnant.
Tests for men
Men may be infertile if they don’t produce enough sperm or if their sperm is deformed. If you have low levels of the “male” hormone testosterone, that may affect your fertility, too.
Tests you can expect are:
Your doctor visually examines and palpates your testicles and penis, checking for abnormalities.
A blood test checks your levels of testosterone and thyroid hormones.
Your doctor asks you to ejaculate into a donor cup and then examines your sperm. They check the sperm for its motility (how well the sperm moves), the form of your sperm, and how many sperm you have. A normal sperm count ranges from 15-200 million sperm per milliliter of semen.
By analyzing your urine, we determine if you may have an infection that could be impairing your fertility. Urinalysis can also reveal a condition called retrograde ejaculation, in which some of all your semen goes backward, up your urethra into your bladder, instead of out your urethra and into your partner’s vagina.
Tests for unexplained infertility
If none of the basic tests reveal abnormalities, and tracking ovulation hasn’t resulted in a pregnancy, we may recommend further tests.
More advanced tests for the woman include:
Cervical mucus test
After you and your partner have unprotected sex, you come to Columbia Fertility Associates for a postcoital cervical mucus test within 24 hours. Your doctor removes a small amount of mucus from your cervix and then tests it. If the mucus contains dead sperm, your body may be mistakenly identifying your partner’s sperm as a pathogen and killing it before it can reach your egg.
Sonohysterogram or hysteroscopy
These tests look inside your uterus for abnormalities and scarring.
Your doctor injects dye into your fallopian tubes and then X-rays your pelvis to determine if your tubes are open, partially blocked, or fully blocked.
Your doctor surgically inserts a mini camera through tiny incisions in your abdomen to examine your fallopian tubes, ovaries, and the exterior of your uterus. We may also be able to treat any abnormalities found during this exploratory procedure.
Depending on the results of your tests, we devise a treatment strategy for you, your partner, or both. If no cause for infertility can be identified, we may recommend that you pursue assisted reproductive technology (ART), such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), donor eggs or sperm, or surrogacy.
Don’t guess about why you’re not getting pregnant. Find the answers you need with fertility tests so you can move forward to treatment and building your family. Contact our team at Columbia Fertility Associates by phoning the office nearest you or using our handy online booking form.