In the United States, approximately 1 in 5 females of reproductive age will experience difficulties when trying to conceive. If you or your partner suspect infertility, you may be interested in learning about infertility and discovering what type of infertility diagnostic testing is available.
What Is Female Infertility?
Female infertility refers to the inability of a woman to conceive or carry a pregnancy to full term despite regular unprotected intercourse. It can result from various factors such as hormonal imbalances, ovulatory disorders, reproductive system abnormalities, or age-related issues. Treatment options vary depending on the underlying cause, which can be identified through various types of fertility evaluations and diagnostic procedures.
Infertility Testing for Female Infertility
Infertility tests include lab tests (e.g., testing blood for hormone levels), imaging tests, and minimally invasive diagnostic procedures to examine reproductive organ function. These include:
Medical History and Physical Examination: The fertility care team gathers information about your menstrual cycle regularity, sexual history, and any previous pregnancies or miscarriages, as well as your medical history. A complete physical examination is often performed to evaluate your overall level of health.
Ovulation Assessment: Evaluating ovulation involves monitoring your menstrual cycle and assessing for signs of regular ovulation, such as a slight increase in basal body temperature, or the results from ovulation prediction kits.
Hormonal Testing: There are several hormones that influence reproductive function, so assessing hormonal levels via blood tests often provides valuable insights into fertility issues. There are several different tests you may undergo, including those that measure the level of hormones that influence conception, such as follicle-stimulating hormones (FSH), luteinizing hormones (LH), estradiol, thyroid-stimulating hormones (TSH), prolactin, and anti-Müllerian hormones (AMH).
Anti-müllerian hormone (AMH): AMH testing is one of the more common hormone tests used to evaluate female fertility. As AMH is produced in the ovaries, a normal AMH balance typically indicates normal ovarian reserve, while low AMH levels can be a sign of diminished ovarian reserve or potentially premature menopause. Measuring AMH levels is also crucial in determining how a patient may respond to ovarian stimulation medications, such as those used in in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Ovarian Reserve Testing: This involves evaluating the quantity of eggs in your ovaries. Tests such as the antral follicle count (AFC) are conducted using ultrasound, alongside AMH testing.
Hysterosalpingography (HSG): An HSG test is performed by injecting a contrast dye into the fallopian tubes and uterus, and then taking X-rays to evaluate whether there are any blockages or abnormalities.
Transvaginal Ultrasound Testing: Using a probe inserted through the vagina, this type of ultrasound examines the ovaries and uterus to detect any cysts, fibroids, or structural abnormalities.
Laparoscopy: Laparoscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that involves the insertion of a tube with a camera through a small incision; this test is often used to diagnose endometriosis or scar tissue in the pelvic organs.
Genetic Testing: Infertility can sometimes be caused by hereditary conditions or chromosomal abnormalities detected through genetic testing. Genetic testing can be immensely helpful in several scenarios, including for patients who have experienced recurrent miscarriages.
Saline Infusion Sonogram (SIS): A SIS test is performed to test for uterine deformities (e.g., polyps and fibroids) that could interfere with getting pregnant. The procedure involves a catheter that is inserted into the cervix to examine whether polyps, myomas, or other anomalies are present inside the uterus. Saline is injected into the uterine cavity while a transvaginal ultrasound is performed to view ultrasound images, in real-time, of the uterus. Your doctor may also test the patency of your fallopian tubes with the SIS test.
Female Infertility and Testing FAQs
What increases the risk of female infertility?
There are several factors known to increase the risk of infertility, including age, smoking, excessive alcohol use, and extreme weight loss or gain.
How long should I try to conceive before seeing a fertility specialist?
It’s typically recommended that you see a fertility specialist after 6 to 12 months of trying to conceive, depending on your age, menstrual regularity, and other factors.
What is meant by “diminished ovarian reserve”?
A diminished ovarian reserve means that the egg supply is not optimal, either due to a low number of eggs, low-quality eggs, or a combination. Low ovarian reserve generally translates to a lower rate of successful embryo transplantation and an increase in miscarriage risks during the first trimester.
What factors influence my ovarian reserve?
Age is one of the most indicative factors that impact egg quality and quantity; as a person ages, the ovarian reserve decreases. Other factors that impact egg quality include hormone levels, environmental factors, ovarian cysts, chemotherapy, smoking, drug use, and obesity.
What can I expect during my fertility evaluation appointment?
A fertility evaluation includes a thorough examination of the reproductive anatomy as well as an assessment of ovarian function and the fallopian tubes. Factors such as hormone production and ovarian function are key indicators of egg quality. Blocked fallopian tubes are a common cause of female infertility. Several diagnostic tests are aimed at assessing the health of the reproductive system. A complete history and physical will clue your fertility specialist into other causes of infertility, such as thyroid function, and various health conditions.
Which infertility tests will be recommended for me?
Your fertility specialist will recommend specific tests based on your medical history, symptoms, and initial evaluation. The tests will be ordered and interpreted by a reproductive endocrinologist to provide an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment options.
Schedule a Female Fertility Evaluation in South Florida
If you are concerned about your fertility, don’t hesitate to get help. Take the first step to realizing your dream of becoming a parent by requesting a consultation with one of our experienced fertility specialists at IVFMD today. Fill out our new patient form, and we will promptly contact you to schedule your consultation in our Miami, Boca Raton, Naples, or other Florida office locations.
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IVFMD: The Premier Fertility Clinic of Miami & South Florida
Since 1991, IVFMD has helped over 10,000 individuals and couples achieve their dreams of having a child. Our fertility doctors and reproductive endocrinologists offer a full range of fertility treatment options for female, male, and LGBTQ+ fertility. Our services include in vitro fertilization (IVF), intrauterine insemination (IUI), fertility preservation (egg freezing, sperm freezing, oncofertility), INVOcell, PGT testing, fertility surgery (myomectomy, tubal reversal, etc.), egg donation, surrogacy, and more. Visit our fertility clinics in South Florida.