Approximately 15 percent of couples worldwide are affected by infertility. Thankfully, in the majority of cases, a diagnosable cause can be found with the right testing. Let’s talk about what fertility diagnostics are done at RISE.
The first step in the diagnostic process at RISE is gathering information about your medical history. A thorough medical history gives us a better picture of the possible causes of your infertility and helps determines what fertility diagnostics need to be done
Many of the hormones your body produces play an important role in your fertility. That’s true even for those that may seem unrelated, like hormones produced by your thyroid. Some hormones also help us tell whether your ovarian reserve is adequate and how you’ll respond to fertility treatment. For these reasons, we may check the levels of many different hormones as part of our fertility diagnostics, including:
- Anti-Mullerian Hormone: This hormone gives us information about your ovarian reserve and helps us determine how you will respond to fertility treatment.
- Follicle-Stimulating Hormone: We typically do a blood test to check your follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) level on the second or third day of your cycle. FSH plays an important role in ovulation, and the level of FSH in your blood helps us know whether you’re ovulating properly, how well you’re likely to respond to fertility treatment, and whether you have diminished ovarian reserve.
- Prolactin: Prolactin is the hormone responsible for stimulating your body to produce milk, but it also plays a part in regulating your menstrual cycle. If you don’t have appropriate levels of prolactin, you may have a harder time becoming pregnant.
- Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone and Thyroxine: These hormones provide important information about how your thyroid is functioning. Since we know that thyroid problems contribute to infertility, it’s important to rule them out as a potential cause.
- Insulin: You may not suspect insulin levels as the cause of your infertility, but diabetes is a significant health problem that can affect your fertility.
- Luteinizing Hormone: Luteinizing hormone (LH) impacts both ovulation and pregnancy. Additionally, improper LH levels are commonly associated with conditions, like polycystic ovarian syndrome, which we know impacts fertility.
Ultrasounds are used in a variety of fertility diagnostics because they help us examine your uterus and ovaries. Additionally, we can perform an antral follicle count to get an idea of both your ovarian reserve and how well you would respond to fertility treatment. Plus, we’ll also look for any structural abnormalities or problems like tumors.
We may also perform a type of ultrasound called a sonohysterogram or saline infusion sonogram. This test involves inserting a catheter through your cervix to fill your uterus with a saline solution. Then we use an ultrasound wand to get a clear picture of the inside of your uterus. The additional clarity this type of diagnostic provides allows us to look for things like fibroids, polyps and scarring that could affect your fertility.
Another advanced test that helps us clearly see inside the uterus is the hysteroscopy. During this procedure, a tiny camera is inserted into the uterus allowing us to look for any problems. Additionally, conditions like fibroids and polyps can be treated during the procedure.
Many fertility problems originate with the fallopian tubes, so it’s essential to determine whether they are open and functioning properly. The best way to do this is with a test called a hysterosalpingogram, a special type of X-ray in which dye is inserted into your uterus allowing us to see whether the dye is able to flow out of both fallopian tubes.
If the test shows that one or both of your fallopian tubes is blocked, we’ll investigate further for potential causes. For instance, ectopic pregnancy, endometriosis, chlamydia, pelvic inflammatory disease, and residual impacts from past surgeries are all potential causes of blocked fallopian tubes.
Infertility can be linked to one or both partners, and a semen analysis is typically the first step in evaluating male fertility and looking for problems that contribute to infertility. Many men also choose to have a semen analysis if they plan to freeze or donate their sperm.
A semen analysis involves checking the volume of semen you produce, along with factors like the pH and viscosity of your semen, and whether it contains high levels of white blood cells, which can damage sperm. We’ll also check your sperm count, sperm motility, and sperm morphology (shape).
Additionally, we’ll check whether you have a high number of immature sperm cells. And we’ll see whether you have problems with agglutination, a condition in which sperm cells stick together, making it difficult for them to move.
Many couples struggling with infertility choose to have genetic testing done as part of their fertility treatment. Additionally, couples with known hereditary disorders may opt for genetic testing to determine their likelihood of conceiving a child with a genetic disorder.
The initial genetic screening is a simple blood test that checks for hundreds of genetic diseases. Once you know your results, you and your partner can discuss your risks and potential options.
Many couples who undergo procedures like in vitro fertilization also choose preimplantation genetic (PGD) testing to screen for genetic diseases and help select the healthiest embryos for implantation.
Remember, each individual and couple’s fertility journey is different. So the exact fertility diagnostics we recommend will depend on your unique medical history. However, knowing what fertility diagnostics are done at RISE helps you familiarize yourself with the terminology and procedures that may be recommended as part of your fertility workup.
If you’re ready to begin your fertility journey at RISE, please give us a call or fill out this form to schedule your in-person or virtual consultation.
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