While many of our blogs focus on the female fertility journey, infertility is not just a problem for women. Infertility affects about 15% of the population around the world, which is approximately 48.5 million couples. In about one-third of these couples, a female factor and a male factor both play a role in their struggle with infertility. Fortunately, there are various tests available to both men and women to help pinpoint the cause of infertility issues. In addition to touching on some of the general causes of infertility, we’ll also discuss possible testing options for men and women that can help diagnose infertility in couples.
General Causes of Infertility
The appropriate test used to diagnose infertility in couples depends on the health and lifestyle of each person in the partnership. In men, infertility most commonly is due to three main factors. The first factor that may impact fertility is a disruption in ejaculatory or testicular function. There are various causes that may lead to this disruption, including medical conditions, varicoceles, or unhealthy habits like drug and alcohol use. The other two factors that may impact male fertility are hormone disorders, like low testosterone, and genetic disorders. In women, infertility can occur whenever a medical condition, or certain lifestyle factors, interferes with the normal function of the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or uterus. Female fertility tests depend on which part of the reproductive system is being affected, and what is causing the dysfunction.
Female Fertility Tests
Because there are many different causes of infertility, there are numerous tests available to achieve the most accurate diagnosis. Some of the most common tests include:
- Medical History Assessment: In order to determine the best fertility test for you, your doctor will need to gather some information about your medical and sexual history. This exam typically consists of getting more information about menstruation and ovulation history, as well as any prior sexually transmitted infections or medical conditions.
- Ovulation test: This test starts with a blood test, and then from that point, your hormone levels can determine whether or not you’re ovulating.
- Hormone testing: Hormone tests check levels of two different hormones to ensure there are no disruptions in the reproductive processes.
- Ovarian reserve testing: Typically following hormone testing, this test helps to determine the number of eggs available for ovulation.
- Hysterosalpingography: This test examines your uterus and fallopian tubes to look for blockages.
- Imaging tests: Imaging tests are usually a pelvic ultrasound to try and identify uterine or ovarian disease.
The following tests may become necessary to look for other diseases or health conditions that may be contributing to or causing infertility.
- Hysteroscopy: This procedure can help examine any potential abnormalities and to check for uterine disease.
- Laparoscopy: A laparoscopy is used to check for endometriosis, scarring, blockages, or problems with the fallopian tubes, ovaries, or uterus, a laparoscopy may become necessary.
- Genetic testing: Genetic tests are administered if it is suspected that a genetic defect is causing infertility.
Male Fertility Tests
- Scrotal ultrasound: This test uses high-frequency sound waves that create images to help identify any problems in the testicles or surrounding structures.
- Hormone testing: A blood test measures the levels of testosterone and other hormones that play an important role in sexual development and sperm production. This test can help determine if there is too much, or not enough testosterone, both of which can lead to infertility.
- Post-ejaculation urinalysis: This test is used to help identify retrograde ejaculation, a condition in which the sperm travels backward towards the bladder instead of out of the penis during ejaculation, resulting in sperm being found in the urine.
- Genetic tests: Blood tests can help identify any signs of genetic abnormalities in the Y chromosomes that may contribute to having an extremely low sperm count.
- Testicular biopsy: A testicular biopsy can identify whether or not a sperm count is normal, and can help decipher if infertility is caused by a problem with sperm transport rather than sperm count itself.
- Transrectal ultrasound: In order to determine if there are issues with the sperm transport, a transrectal ultrasound can be administered to check the prostate and search for potential blockages in the tubes that transport the semen.
Talk to A Fertility Expert
If you or your partner have any questions or concerns pertaining to infertility, reach out to Carolinas Fertility Institute today. Our knowledgeable and dedicated staff can help answer any questions you may have about fertility testing. We also offer a wide variety of services, from fertility evaluations to In Vitro fertilization. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation by calling our Charlotte office at (844) 686-2233 or our office in the Triad at (336) 448-9100.