Are you considering fertility screening? Well, you’re not alone.
Increasing numbers of couples are seeking fertility screening these days – some do so because they have trouble falling pregnant, while others are keen to fully assess and understand their fertility, even before they start trying for a baby.
It is a well known fact that more women are marrying at an older age, and postponing their pregnancies for their careers, or other lifestyle-related factors.
Fertility rates decrease, for both men and women, as they get older. It is therefore unsurprising, that more and more couples are having trouble conceiving.
Couples are encouraged to seek fertility screening if they have been unable to conceive despite having regular unprotected sexual intercourse for 1 year.
In cases of advanced maternal age (women > 35), consultation with a fertility doctor is recommended after 6 months of trying to conceive. Fertility screening aims to detect underlying medical and anatomical issues in either partner, which, if addressed properly and promptly, can assist in their reproductive success.
Infertility investigation doesn’t apply just to the ladies. Male factors account for one third of all infertility cases, while female factors contribute a further third, and combined factors occur in 20% of cases. That’s why its important to screen both partners.
The assessment starts with obtaining a thorough medical history from you and your partner – this includes your age, how long you’ve been trying for a baby, a menstrual history, sexual history and any previous sexually transmitted diseases, previous surgery, and any previous pregnancies/miscarriages. After that, you will proceed on to Fertility Tests.
So, what kind of tests may be included in fertility screening for couples?
Hormonal blood tests
A panel of hormonal blood tests will be taken, the most important of which are the follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and estradiol. These are used to assess a woman’s ovarian reserve, which is directly linked to a woman’s fertility. Other hormones may also provide important clues about the your fertility status, and can be used to identify hormonal imbalances that are interfering with your chances of falling pregnant.
An ultrasound of the pelvis is a painless and non invasive way of examining the uterus and ovaries, and can also be used to count the number of eggs a woman has in her ovaries.
The ultrasound is used to detect conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome, fibroids, and pelvic infections, all of which can decrease your fertility.
A hysterosalpingogram or HSG is a more detailed investigation of the female pelvic organs. This test involves the injection of a dye into the uterus via the cervix. X rays are taken as the dye is injected, which allows for accurate assessment of the anatomy of the uterus and the patency of the fallopian tubes. The test allows for detection of any abnormal blockages within the uterine cavity and along the tubes, which may be preventing normal fertilization of the egg, or implantation of the embryo in the uterus.
Semen analysis is a common and essential test done for male fertility screening. The test encompasses sperm count, sperm movement and sperm quality, amongst many other things. This test helps in assessing if the sperm has a good chance of fertilising an egg.
What should you do if you have been trying for a baby and have been unsuccessful?
Remember, fertility starts to decrease as you get older and drastically declines after the age of 35 years old.
If you and your partner have been trying actively for at least 1 year (woman’s age under 35 years old) or 6 months (woman’s age >35 years old) and have not been successful, see a medical professional for further fertility screening.
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