So, you’ve come in for your first appointment and you walk away with a list of specific tests you are supposed to have done. You are trying to figure out what these tests will tell us and why you have to do them in the first place. The infertility process is not the same for every person who comes into the office. Each treatment plan is custom tailored to the specific needs of the patient and these tests help us determine the best course of treatment that will yield the most successful outcome for your particular set of challenges. Dependent on your specific situation, your physician’s recommendations may vary, but here are some very common tests that are done during the evaluation of infertility.
The first one that comes to mind is the Hysterosalpingogram or HSG. This is a test that is done in an outpatient radiology center and it examines the inside of the uterus and the fallopian tubes using X Rays and a contrast material. This test enables the radiologist to take pictures of the contrast material (dye) as it passes through the uterus into the fallopian tubes. This test helps to determine if there is a problem with the uterus or tubes such as: tubal blockage, fluid in the tubes, abnormal shape/structure of the uterus, polyp, fibroids, scar tissue, etc. that could contribute to infertility.
Cycle day 3 labs, which help evaluate your ovarian reserve – ie. how many eggs you have left – is another test that may be performed as a part of the initial evaluation. The way I like to explain this to my patients is that this test gives us a bird’s eye view of your ovarian reserve, it helps the physician choose the right course of treatment for you. Ovarian reserve gives us an indication of the quantity and quality of the eggs a woman has. We test both Estradiol and FSH hormones on cycle day 3 of full flow. Our physicians may also measure your ovaries or do a follicle count with an ultrasound, in the beginning of the cycle, to further help evaluate ovarian reserve.
Semen Analysis is the principal test that evaluates male fertility. This test is vital, because it helps to evaluate the sperm count, motility, and morphology which can all help to identify if male factor is playing a role in the infertility the couple is experiencing. If the semen analysis results are abnormal, we may refer the male partner to a urologist for further evaluation.
After your initial evaluation, your physician will discuss the results with you as well as their recommendations for next steps. There may be other tests needed, but these are the typical tests that most patients have done. These tests provide us with a wealth of information and allow us to get a better indication of your specific situation.
I think that the initial infertility evaluation is critical in determining the best treatment course for you. At TFC you are not just a number who walks through the door; each patient has their own treatment plan that is custom tailored to their specific needs. You may feel like you have to do many tests, but remember each test helps us to get a clearer picture of what may be causing YOUR infertility to occur.