Comprehensive fertility testing is essential to determine the causes of your fertility problems and possible course for fertility treatment. Your doctor will typically begin with the simplest and least invasive fertility testing. If the causes of conception difficulties are not identified, more involved tests may be scheduled.
Female fertility: medical examinations and common tests for women
During the gynaecological examination, your doctor will search for any genital abnormalities or any other physical signs that might be associated with conception difficulties.
Hormone level testing
Hormone levels in the blood are tested on specific days of the menstruation cycle to ensure that eggs are maturing.
Fallopian tube testing
A viewing instrument is inserted into the uterus via the vagina to identify any malformations in the uterus lining, the presence of myomas, fibroid growths or damage to the fallopian tubes. If necessary, minor surgery may be performed at the same time.
Under anaesthetic, an instrument with a telescopic viewing system is inserted into the abdomen through a small incision below the navel to explore the uterus, ovaries, pelvic cavity and fallopian tubes. It is also used to identify endometriosis. If need be, cysts, fibroid growths or endometriotic tissue may be removed at the same time.
Male fertility: medical examinations and common tests for men
Genital examination and ultrasound
Initial examination is by a urologist or an andrologist – a specialist in male genital disorders. The doctor will perform a palpation, a physical examination of the testicles and epididymis for any irregularities. He will also examine the prostate gland via the rectum. A more detailed investigation may involve ultrasound testing of the testicles and prostate gland.
Sperm, obtained via masturbation, are examined under a microscope and tested for regularity of shape and motility. As the quality of sperm cells varies greatly, the test may be repeated after an interval of three months. If the number of intact sperm is found to be insufficient, a sample of tissue may be taken from the testicles to assess sperm production.
Hormone level tests
Excessively low sperm production may be caused by a hormonal imbalance. To rule out this possibility, hormone levels in the blood are tested. Hormone disorders occur more rarely in men than they do in women.
Men who produce a very low sperm count may be asked to provide a blood sample to be tested for genetic abnormalities.