What is fertility testing?

Fertility testing is the first stage in infertility treatment and is used to establish the problem that is preventing you from conceiving. There are a wide range of problems that could be causing your infertility, so you may need to go through several different tests before the problem is found.

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Around half of infertility problems are down to just one partner, with a quarter down to a combination of both partners and a further quarter unexplained. You will both need fertility testing to establish where the problem lies.

You may be able to get fertility testing as part of your home country’s national health provision, and then use the results to plan infertility treatment abroad. The results of fertility testing will help your doctor to select the best treatment to overcome the problem.

The simplest, and cheapest, tests are often done first. These include:

  • Blood tests to check the levels of your key hormones, such as follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinising hormone (LH) and progesterone.
  • Blood screening to check for diseases, such as chlamydia and rubella that may affect fertility.
  • Sperm tests to check for sperm numbers, motility and overall quality.

If these fertility tests do not show up a problem, or your doctor suspects that there is something else going on, then you might need more extensive and expensive tests, including:

  • Hysterosalpinogram – a special X-ray in which a dye is injected into the cervix. This will show any blockage to the fallopian tubes.
  • Hysterosalpingo contrast sonogram (HCS) – an ultrasound probe is inserted into the vagina to investigate possible blockages anywhere in the female genital tract.

If the problem is still not understood, then further, more invasive, fertility tests may be required. These include:

  • Laparoscopy – a camera is inserted into the abdomen via a small incision. This is then used to examine the ovaries and surrounding tissue to check for fibroids, endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, adhesions and scar tissue.
  • Hysteroscopy – the same as a laparoscopy, except that the camera is inserted vaginally.

Thorough fertility testing may easily find the cause of your underlying problem. However, in up to 25 % of cases, infertility remains unexplained.

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