Female Infertility: Evaluation and Treatment
Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive after 12 months of unprotected, regular sexual intercourse. It is condition that affects up to one in six couples of reproductive age.
The single biggest influence on a couple’s chances of getting pregnant is woman’s age. Male infertility plays a close second to this, together affecting almost half of all infertile couples.
Causes of infertility may include following conditions.
- Problem with the production of sperm or eggs.
- Structural or functional issues with the female or male reproductive systems.
- Hormone or immune conditions in men, women or both.
Hence it is necessary to get yourself evaluated to find out what is the cause of infertility and treat it accordingly. It is a two pronged approach to look for issues in both the male and female partner.
The first step for couples seeking fertility treatment begins with a thorough assessment of both partners, including a detailed medical history and number of routine tests.
Fertility Tests for Women
To measure female fertility, the following tests are often performed
- Ovulation Test: A quick blood test to asses if the woman is producing an egg each month or not.
- Ultrasound Scan: A scan to look at the condition of the uterus for the presence of issues like fibroids, adenomyosis and ovaries for ovarian reserve, cysts or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).
- Ovarian Reserve (AMH Test): A blood test that measures the level of AMH hormone to help estimate the number of eggs she has, especially when they are at risk of decreased ovarian reserve. Ex: Advanced maternal age/ history of previous ovarian surgery / history of cancer chemotherapy or pelvic radiation.
Sometimes fertility specialists also perform additional tests for better assess the condition of the woman’s fallopian tubes, ovaries and uterus.
- Hysterosalpingogram (HSG)
- Diagnostic Laparoscopy
The most important diagnostic test to assess male infertility is a semen analysis. In nearly all cases, man does not display any obvious outward signs or symptoms that may indicate an issue with his fertility.
Specialist andrology assessment of sperm is essential to measure
- The number of sperm, volume and consistency of the sample
- The size and shape (morphology) and ability to move (mobility) of the sperm, both of which can interfere with penetration and fertilization of an egg.