Are you now ready to have a baby? Or have you been trying, but to no avail? If so, worry not. There’s always a solution, but first, you may need to undergo fertility testing. But what’s fertility testing? And when is the best time to get one? These and other related questions are addressed in this article.
What Is Fertility
Before delving into the world of fertility testing, perhaps it’s necessary to understand what’s meant by fertility. In simple terms, fertility is your body’s natural ability to produce children. It takes a man and a woman to produce children; therefore, fertility applies to both genders.
Infertility, on the other hand, is the inability to conceive a baby naturally. A couple is potentially infertile if they cannot reproduce after at least 12 months of unprotected sexual intercourse.
What Does Fertility Involve?
Being fertile means a couple can produce a baby. But what does it take to make a baby? It takes a man’s sperm and a woman’s egg to produce a child. Here’s a general overview of what making a baby is all about.
- Sperm and Egg Production
Hormones like estrogen and others create an environment suitable for ovulation (releasing a reproductive egg from one of the ovaries) in women. A man, on the other hand, produces sperms in his testes.
- Sexual Intercourse
During sexual intercourse, a man releases sperms into a woman’s cervical area. These sperms play a significant role in fertilization.
Sperm cells swim up the woman’s uterus into the fallopian tubes. There, one of the sperm cells burrows into the egg. Through IVF in Melbourne or many other places, an egg can also be fertilized using technology.
The fertilized egg undergoes cell division while traveling down the fallopian tube back into the uterus. The egg then implants its self into the uterine lining, and a baby begins to form.
Factors Affecting Fertility
Some factors improve or decrease fertility in men and women, and they include:
The number and quality of female reproductive eggs are said to decrease every day. So, it’s reported that the older a woman gets after the age of 35, the lesser her level of fertility. In men, however, it’s said that age has a lesser effect on fertility.
As you may already know, women have a 28-day menstrual cycle between the start of each period. Ovulation, or the release of an egg, is believed to occur on day 14. Chances of falling pregnant are low at the beginning of the cycle and increase from day 8. Day 12 is said to be the best time to try for a baby.
Numerous lifestyle conditions could affect fertility, including:
- Being overweight
- Recreational drugs
These could diminish the quantity or quality of eggs and sperms.
- Medical Conditions
Some medical conditions can affect the fertility of women and men. Conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome, endometriosis, cancers, hormonal imbalance, and other conditions may affect fertility in women. On the other hand, men can be affected by medical conditions such as STIs, cancers, and diabetes.
There’s a common misconception that fertility issues only affect women, but as stated earlier, they affect both. If you’re unable to reproduce after a year of trying, your doctor will normally recommend that you get a fertility test as a couple. That way, they’ll be able to pinpoint whether you or your spouse is affected.
Signs Of a Fertility Problem
As indicated earlier, the most common red flag is if you fail to conceive after at least a year of trying. There’re, however, some other symptoms that could indicate the same. These include:
- Frequent miscarriages
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Heavy or light bleeding
- Severe period pain
- Pelvic pain during sexual intercourse
- Low sex drive
These symptoms and others may prompt your doctor to order some fertility testing.
Fertility testing is generally the whole process of assessing whether one is fertile. But because many factors could affect your health, fertility testing may involve several other tests such as STI testing, cancer testing, and so forth.
Where To Get Tested
Basic fertility tests are normally carried out in a hospital or a fertility clinic. A fertility clinic is a medical facility that assists couples who want to have a baby.
Types Of Fertility Tests
There’re many different types of fertility tests for men and women. Your doctor will usually suggest the best way to identify any possible problems with your fertility. The most common initial tests include the following:
Ovarian Reserve Testing
Ovarian reserve refers to your ovaries’ capacity to develop good enough eggs to be fertilized into a successful pregnancy. This test is done to assess the quality of your eggs. The test is also used to predict a woman’s response to fertility treatments like IVF.
Chlamydia is one of the common sexually transmitted diseases that may cause problems with fertility. Your OB-GYN might give you a urine test or vaginal swab if you’ve been trying for a baby with no success.
An ultrasound scan may be used to check for any abnormalities in your reproductive system. An ultrasound probe is usually inserted into the vagina to scan for things like fibroids, fallopian tube blockages, or endometriosis, which could prevent you from falling pregnant.
A blood sample can be tested for progesterone, a hormone that shows whether you’re ovulating. Another test could be done to measure the level of hormones called gonadotrophins if you have irregular periods. These are believed to stimulate egg production in the ovaries.
A hysterosalpingogram is used to detect whether your fallopian tubes are blocked. Blocked fallopian tubes could hinder your egg from being deployed from the ovaries. A special type of dye is injected into your womb in a hysterosalpingogram, and an x-ray is taken.
The laparoscopy is usually prescribed if there’s a high chance that you have fertility problems. The procedure involves a small incision in which a small telescope is inserted in your lower abdomen to examine your womb and fallopian tubes. At times, a special dye is injected to show any blockages.
A hysteroscopy is mostly used to detect and treat conditions affecting the uterus, such as fibroids, cysts, and tissue scars. During a hysteroscopy, the doctor will normally insert a hysteroscope into your uterus through your cervix. The hysteroscope is quite thin; you could get the procedure done with or without general anesthesia.
Cervical Mucus Test
Cervical mucus has been said to be a contributing factor to fertility problems in some cases. If the doctor suspects this could be your problem, they’ll likely prescribe the cervical mucus test. This could help establish whether your cervical mucus is good enough for interaction with sperm.
At times genetic testing may be required to assess whether your infertility could be resulting from a genetic defect. It’s usually recommended for couples who may have had multiple failed IVF procedures. For this sort of procedure, you may have to go to the best fertility clinic Melbourne or other parts of Australia for a successful procedure.
Studies suggest that a third of all fertility issues may be due to the male partner. Your doctor can therefore prescribe a sperm test. A sperm test is usually conducted through a complete semen analysis which checks the quality and quantity of sperm. The quality of sperm involves the shape and movement of the sperm, while the quantity is the number of sperm cells.
In rare cases, the doctor may call for a testicular biopsy to check for abnormalities in your partner’s testes. The procedure involves creating an incision in the scrotum, through which a small sample of the testicle is taken for examination.
A Note About Fertility Tests
Although there’re many different forms of fertility tests, you don’t have to do all of them. You may not even need to do more than one. Most of them are usually recommended by a fertility specialist when you’ve shown signs of infertility.
When To Get a Fertility Test
If you’re worried that you might have problems conceiving, then you may have to speak to a professional.
However, the best time to get a test is if you’re showing any signs of infertility. The main one, as highlighted earlier, is when you’ve been trying for a baby but to no avail. It’s recommended that when you’re 35 and below, you need to have tried for at least 12 months. If you’re 35 and above, you need to have failed for six months and above.
Your GP will probably ask how long you’ve been trying before they refer you to a specialist. Your first port of call is usually a gynecologist, while for men, it could be a urologist. The professional will normally ask you a couple of questions to understand your lifestyle. An understanding of your lifestyle will help them come up with a testing plan.
Fertility testing is the process of assessing your capability to produce a child. There’re various tests for different situations. But it important to understand that you may not need to get all the tests done. Your doctor will normally recommend the right test for your condition, based on what they need to assess.
Fertility tests can be proactive before you decide to have a baby, but they’re normally conducted to diagnose the cause of infertility. It’s important to get checked because only then can a potential solution to your problem be found. Remember, infertility doesn’t only affect women; even men could bear the brunt of it. Always try to get tests done together as a couple.