Struggling to Conceive?

Struggling to Conceive? Learn How Fertility Tests May Help

Although 85% of women are happily pregnant within a year of trying for a baby, for other couples it takes far longer than this to conceive. If you have not managed to conceive within a year of trying or within 6 months if you are over 35, you may decide to undergo fertility tests to see whether there is a particular reason you are struggling to become pregnant. Making this decision then allows you to get access to the necessary treatment, which may include assisted fertilisation.

Tests to diagnose possible infertility

As it’s possible for both men and women to have problems with infertility, it is wise that you both take part in fertility testing. For women the first step is usually a blood test to measures levels of your hormones that control ovulation, as this can assess whether you ovulate, which is essential if fertilisation is to take place. Your family doctor will usually carry out this test and at the same time check for levels of other hormones that control reproduction, such as those produced by your thyroid and pituitary gland. Your partner may also be asked for a semen sample, as analysis of this shows whether his sperm are in good health. If the results of these tests show that you are not ovulating or semen analysis highlights a problem with your partner’s sperm, you will usually need to see a fertility specialist, though if either of you have a history of STDs, pelvic or urogenital surgery, these are also indicators that you need more specialist advice.

Although your specialist will decide on the most appropriate fertility tests given your own circumstances, they may decide that an ultrasound scan to check your uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries is advisable. This can find conditions such as pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome, all of which affect fertility and are treatable. However, your doctor may need a more detailed inspection of your reproductive organs, in which case they will arrange a hysterosalpingography (a specialist X-ray) or a laparoscopy (a form of non-invasive surgery) to take a closer look. If these tests show any irregularities, your specialist will advise on the surgical procedures available. Your doctor may also recommend that your partner has a scrotal or rectal ultrasound to rule out any obstructions or other problems with your partner’s tubes.

Rarely a genetic condition may explain the cause of your infertility, so if other tests do not show any reason for your difficulty conceiving, your specialist may offer genetic testing to you both. However, you should bear in mind that with each further test you have, this will often increase the size of the bill you receive from your fertility clinic.

Undergoing fertility treatment

The results of your fertility tests will decide the most suitable treatment option for you, but these broadly fall under taking fertility medication to induce ovulation, undergoing a surgical procedure to correct a blockage or another structural problem, or starting assisted conception. If assisted conception is advised, IVF is the not the only option available to you, and your specialist will discuss the range of procedures available to aid conception, though the cost of these varies, which you may need to take into account. Whichever option you choose, your doctor will probably tell you not to give up on any lifestyle changes that you have already made to enhance fertility, as these may also increase the effectiveness of assisted reproductive treatments. For instance, research shows that losing excess weight, eating a well-balanced diet, taking regular exercise, managing stress and reducing caffeine and alcohol intake may all increase the chance of a successful pregnancy following treatment.

If you are keen to explore complementary therapies that may enhance the effectiveness of fertility treatment, acupuncture shows promise for increasing the rate of pregnancy and live births. Research also indicates that yoga boosts mental wellness among women before they receive IVF, which theoretically may improve the outcome of your treatment.

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Laura Wright worked in nutritional science and health provision before turning to writing for a new career. Now she combined ghost writing for a wide range of businesses and organizations with spreading the word about a number of health guides she’s personally invested in. When not writing, she likes spending time with her family and going for long hikes.

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