Some couples first talk to their family doctor when concerned about infertility issues. Others meet with an obstetrician/gynecologist (OB/GYN). Or some go directly to see a fertility specialist , also called a reproductive endocrinologist (RE), who can offer a full range of services-from the basic evaluation and diagnosis of the problem to treating it. In generally, fertility specialists are OB/GYNs who have completed additional training in advanced assisted reproductive therapies (ART).
Before performing any infertility tests, it might also help to learn about fertility awareness methods and identify the best time(s) to become pregnant. Some couples find that they have been missing the most fertile days when trying to become pregnant. A woman should keep a record of her menstrual cycle and when she ovulates. This record will help the doctor if the couple decide to have infertility tests.
You can set up a meeting with a doctor or specialist and bring your partner as you begin to explore infertility issues. The doctor will review medical history and records looking for factors that might explain potential causes for infertility. The doctor will ask questions about your sex life, your birth control methods, any sexually transmitted disease (STDs), medicine use, and the use of caffeine, tobacco, alcohol, or illegal drugs. A woman's menstrual cycle and exercise patterns will be analysed as well.
Based on the information provided, a doctor should have a sense of whether or not a person is at particular risk for having a fertility problem. They can then begin to discuss potential testing options. If STDs are suspected, more tests may be done.
Blood or urine tests
Genetic tests - Karyotyping is a blood test that looks for problems in the genetic material (chromosomes) in the cells. Some genetic problems cause miscarriages or make it hard to become pregnant.
A woman's physical examination usually includes a pelvic examination and Pap test. A man's physical examination usually includes a testicular examination. Not all fertility doctors will do a physical examination of the man. If there are problems with the semen, the doctor may refer the male partner to a urologist.
Postcoital test - checks a woman's cervical mucus after sex to see whether sperm are alive and able to move normally through the mucus. This test must be done the day before or the day of ovulation. Many doctors question the value of the postcoital test to check for infertility. It is not done very often.
Semen analysis - checks the number of sperm (sperm count), the number of sperm that look normal, the number of sperm that can move normally, the number of white blood cells in the semen, and how much semen is made.
Sometimes tests cannot find the cause of infertility and not all infertility problems can be treated. Other times, infertility tests may identify potential causes for fertility problem can sometimes include treatment during the tests. Infertility in men is often less successfully treated than infertility in women. But a woman may still be able to become pregnant using assisted reproductive technology, which can treat male or female problems. To learn more about how doctors treat infertility , and infertility options to conceive ntinue reading the next section on "Infertility Treatment" that follows.