What is involved with an infertility evaluation?

A comprehensive infertility evaluation is oftentimes the first step in overcoming infertility. During this evaluation, your doctor will obtain a detailed history and physical exam, finding important clues as to what may or may not be giving you a hard time achieving pregnancy.

Oftentimes, the details from this evaluation will help guide specific tests and even treatment options moving forward.While someone’s medical history may require additional testing, in most cases, your infertility doctor will want to evaluate the following critical pieces that are required to obtain a pregnancy:

– Determining the overall health of a woman’s ovaries and whether regular ovulation is occurring
Your doctor will likely want to run specific tests to see how healthy your ovaries appear, including ultrasounds and blood work done throughout the menstrual cycle. The information from these tests can confirm if normal ovulation is occurring and if there are a normal number of functioning eggs.

– Evaluating the uterus
Another evaluation will look specifically at the uterus to make sure there are no anatomic abnormalities, including fibroids, polyps, or scarring in the uterus. Any of these problems could lead to a decreased chance of achieving pregnancy and/or a higher chance of miscarriage. Specialized ultrasounds called sonohysterograms (SHGs) are a common way of looking for these problems.

– Checking for healthy, functioning fallopian tubes
In many cases, the fallopian tubes are the cause of fertility issues. Tubes can be damaged even if they are still open, and this compromises their function. To evaluate the health of the fallopian tubes, a hysterosalpingogram (HSG) is a common test performed, which basically involves an X-ray dye test. If abnormalities exist, often surgery is needed to correct the tubal problems.

– Performing a semen analysis
It is estimated that 30% of all infertility is at least in part based on an abnormal sperm test. Therefore, a semen analysis that evaluates sperm count and sperm movement is the single highest yield test done during an infertility evaluation, and it is recommended for all couples having trouble achieving pregnancy.

– Testing hormonal levels
In addition to hormones made by your ovaries, your doctor may also want to evaluate your thyroid and other hormone levels to ensure normal function of these systems. Subtle abnormalities can lead to difficulties achieving and maintaining pregnancy, even if the woman otherwise feels healthy.

The infertility evaluation typically takes less than one month to complete from start to finish. At that point, your doctor will review the results with you and together you will decide what treatment course, if any, makes sense for your particular situation.

If you are having trouble getting pregnant and need to schedule an infertility evaluation with one of our reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialists, please call Fertility Associates of Memphis at 901-747-2229.