After spending most of your adult life carefully guarding against unwanted pregnancies with effective birth control, it’s ironic when you find yourself facing infertility as a couple. Isn’t conception naturally easy?
For about 9% of men and 10% of women in the United States, the answer is “no.”
If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for a year (if the woman is under 35) or for six months (if the woman is over 35), you’re considered to be infertile. But a label based on a timeline doesn’t tell why you’re infertile and what you can do about it.
When you and your partner fit into the infertile category, you deserve to know why and what your options are. Sharon Smith, MD, an expert and caring OB/GYN, conducts fertility tests at OBGYN Care of Houston. Here’s what you and your partner can expect.
If you’re having trouble conceiving, we recommend tests for both partners. In about a third of cases, the woman has a fertility issue, in another third it’s the man, and in the rest of the cases, it’s both partners or unknown causes. Fertility tests for women include:
A simple blood or urine test can tell us a lot about your health and fertility. It may identify an infection that’s impairing conception. Blood tests also give us information about your hormone levels, which we may need to adjust to improve your chances of conception.
Dr. Smith gently palpates your abdominal and pelvic area, looking for abnormalities in your organs, such as the presence of intra- or extra-uterine fibroids, a kind of benign tumor. She also looks inside your vagina and cervix with special instruments, such as colposcope or hysteroscope.
A colposcope is a set of specialized binoculars. A hysteroscope is a flexible camera that she inserts into your uterus to check for abnormalities.
An ultrasound study is a safe, simple, noninvasive way for Dr. Smith to look inside your uterus and at all of the organs in your reproductive system. An ultrasound also helps her determine if your ovaries release eggs regularly so that you can conceive a child.
A CT scan is another safe way to get a good look at all of your reproductive organs. If Dr. Smith suspects you have other issues, such as blocked fallopian tubes, she may refer you for other tests, including:
Your chances of conceiving increase if you know when your ovaries release eggs. You can use a take-home test to identify when you’re ovulating to be sure that your cycles are regular.
Although we don’t test your partner’s fertility, we refer him to a urologist for a fertility evaluation. Tests for men include:
Based on the results of your and your partner’s tests, Dr. Smith may recommend fertility treatments, including procedures to fix abnormalities in your reproductive system. She may advise:
Your partner may also require treatment for male fertility issues. If necessary, Dr. Smith refers you as a couple to an assisted reproductive technology specialist for procedures such as in vitro fertilization.
If you think you may be infertile, contact our Houston, Texas, office today. You can phone our friendly staff or use our online form.