Fertility Health Check:
Everything You Should Know For Family Planning
According to the CDC, one in five women isn't able to get pregnant after trying to conceive for one year. A woman is considered to have fertility issues once she gets past the one-year marker.
Infertility can be an incredibly stressful thing to go through, but there are ways to help you get to the bottom of why you're having problems conceiving.
A fertility health check is a great option for both men and women. Each person goes through a medical and physical assessment to look for infertility issues.
This guide will discuss the benefits of fertility tests and what the process looks like for men and women.
When to See a Doctor to Get a Fertility Health Check
It can be difficult to determine if you're actually infertile. There sometimes aren't any signs of infertility, except finding it difficult to conceive or stay pregnant. The best way to determine if you or your partner is infertile is by getting a fertility health check.
As we mentioned before, it can take up to one year for a couple to get pregnant. If you've been trying for more than a year and still haven't conceived, it's time to talk to your healthcare provider about infertility testing.
There are certain health conditions that might make it more difficult to get pregnant. If you or your partner have a history of any of the below health conditions, don't wait longer than a year to speak with your doctor:
- Irregular periods
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Thyroid problems
- Repeated miscarriages
- Difficulty getting an erection
- Trauma or injury to your testes or scrotum
- Cystic fibrosis
- Problems ejaculating
According to Planned Parenthood, some healthcare providers recommend that women over the age of 35 get a fertility health check after six months of trying to conceive. Your gynecologist or family doctor can help you with a fertility health test. They might refer you to a specialist.
For more in-depth information read factors Affecting Fertility: Answers to 8 Common Questions.
Are Fertility Tests Covered by Insurance?
You might be wondering, "are fertility tests covered by insurance?" It's important to review your health insurance plan before you schedule a fertility health test.
Call the billing department of your insurance company to ask them about your health benefits. If you get health insurance through your employer, speak with your HR rep about what's included in your plan.
Some questions you should ask your insurance company include:
- Are there limitations on the coverage?
- What types of fertility tests are covered?
- Are there any restrictions on marital status?
- Are there any age restrictions?
How Fertility Tests Work
Wondering how fertility tests work? There are a variety of different types of fertility tests for both men and women. The most common types of fertility health tests include hormonal tests, imaging tests, and an x-ray.
Fertility health tests can tell you if you're ovulating correctly, how many eggs are in your ovaries, and an overview of the health of your hormones.
Types of Fertility Tests for People With Uteruses
Your doctor will use a variety of methods to test your fertility. They'll also want to know some of the following information about you:
- Medications you're on
- Medical history, including surgeries or long-term health conditions
- Lifestyle habits, like caffeine use or smoking
They'll also ask you questions about your sex life and what type of birth control you've used in the past.
STI screening is a general test for infertility. Your sexual health can play a major role in your body's fertility. Your doctor will want to ensure that you don't have any untreated infections that you're not aware of.
For example, inflammation and scarring from some STIs can block your fallopian tubes. That can make it difficult for you to get pregnant.
Hormone Level Testing
Hormones are a vital component of your body's reproductive function. Your hormone levels can give your healthcare provider a snapshot of how your ovaries are functioning. It'll also tell them what your ovary reserve looks like.
You can expect your doctor to order some of or all of the following hormone tests:
- Thyroid levels
- Follicle-stimulating hormone
- Anti-mullerian hormone
- Luteinizing hormone
The follicles in your ovaries hold all of your eggs that are waiting for their opportunity to mature. The eggs are in different stages of growth.
In this ultrasound, your doctor will look for your antral follicle count. Antral follicles are barely big enough to be located and counted with an ultrasound.
The more follicles you have, the more immature eggs you typically have. A high antral follicle count indicates that you have a high ovarian reserve. A low count means that your egg reserve is diminishing.
Cervical Mucus Test
If your doctor notices any problems in the above tests, they'll likely order additional testing. Your healthcare provider might order a cervical mucus test.
Issues with your cervical mucus can cause problems with your conception. If the consistency of your cervical mucus is off, it might make it hard for the sperm to reach your egg. Hostile antibodies in your cervical mucus can sometimes kill the sperm before it reaches your egg.
A hysterosalpingogram is an x-ray that uses a radio-opaque dye. Your doctor can see if there are any blockages in your fallopian tubes or uterus. Blockages can make it difficult to conceive or carry a baby to term.
This test consists of a small camera getting inserted into your uterus via the cervix. If the previous testing has indicated a problem with your uterus, a hysteroscopy can help your doctor see any abnormalities.
Your doctor might recommend doing a laparoscopy. In this procedure, a laparoscope is inserted into your abdomen through a tiny incision. The goal of laparoscopy is to see if you have endometriosis or scarring.
This is a more invasive procedure than a hysteroscopy or hysterosalpingogram. You'll be required to get put under general anesthesia.
With an endometrial biopsy, your doctor will take a sample of the lining of your uterus. The tissue will get tested to see if embryo implantation would be successful.
During the procedure, your doctor will remove a sample of your uterine lining with a catheter. The catheter is inserted into your uterus through the cervix and vagina. This biopsy is uncomfortable, but you'll receive painkillers.
Another term for saline hysterogram is a saline infusion sonogram or water ultrasound. This type of test happens during an ultrasound that's transvaginal.
The saline solution gets injected into your uterus via a small catheter. The catheter gets inserted through the cervix. The walls of the uterus expand and your doctor can look for various polyps or growths.
Keep in mind that not all women struggling with fertility will have to go through every test. Your healthcare provider will provide you with expert guidance on which tests are most appropriate for your situation.
Types of Fertility Tests for Men
There are a few different fertility tests that are used for men. Let's talk about some of the most common ones.
During the physical examination, the doctor will examine the man's genitals. They'll also ask questions about the following areas that could affect fertility:
- Surgeries or injuries
- Chronic health problems
- Inherited conditions
The doctor could also ask about sexual habits and development during puberty.
Semen samples can be provided in a few different ways. The man could masturbate and ejaculate into a sanitized container in a physician's office. There are some men that opt for their semen to be collected in a different manner because of cultural or religious beliefs. Their semen can get collected by using a special condom during sexual intercourse.
The semen then gets sent to a lab to measure how many sperm are present. According to the Mayo Clinic, they'll also look for abnormalities in the movement and shape of the sperm. The sperm will also be evaluated for signs of issues, like an infection.
Sperm count can significantly fluctuate from one sample to the next. Typically, several semen tests will get done over a short period of time so you have accurate results. If the sperm analysis comes back normal, the doctor will recommend the female partner get tested before doing any more tests on the male.
Other Fertility Tests
Your physician might recommend other types of tests to determine why you're infertile. Some of these can include:
- Transrectal ultrasound
- Scrotal ultrasound
- Hormone testing
- Genetic tests
- Post-ejaculation urinalysis
- Testicular biopsy
Support for Your Fertility
There are natural ways you can improve your fertility during the fertility testing process. Fertility supplements are a great way to regulate your cycle without having to take prescription medications. Coupling supplements with a fertility health check will help you get on the path to conceiving.
Learn more about how the Knowell supplement can help with your fertility.