Types Of Fertility Tests [Choose The Best One]
If you’ve been having trouble conceiving, know there are options available to you. And discovering the right one starts by evaluating your situation to identify the root cause. This is where Future Family comes in.
We’re here to help make your fertility journey a bit easier by discussing the primary types of fertility tests. Keep in mind, fertility testing and treatment differ for women and men, which is why we’ve broken down the types of fertility tests by female and male.
Female Fertility Exams
There are different types of fertility tests for women that may be recommended by a physician. Below are just a few:
Blood tests can assess areas such as:
- Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels: FSH stimulates the growth of eggs in the ovaries. An FSH blood test can look at the ovarian reserve and how well your ovaries respond to hormonal signals coming from your brain.
- Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and prolactin levels: These areas are useful in identifying thyroid disorders and hyperprolactinemia, both of which can cause menstrual irregularities, fertility issues, and miscarriages.
A hysterosalpingogram is used to determine whether:
- The fallopian tubes are open
- The uterine cavity is normal
The physician will insert a speculum into the vagina and clean the cervix. A device called a cannula is then placed into the cervix where a liquid containing iodine fills the uterus. The iodine will show up white on the X-ray image and trace the uterus.
The iodine will travel through the fallopian tubes; if the tubes are open, the fluid will trickle out of the ends. If the flow of iodine is disrupted, this may indicate abnormalities. An HSG exam usually takes less than five minutes and is done after menstruation ends and before ovulation.
Transvaginal ultrasonography can examine the uterus and ovaries for any abnormalities. This is conducted via an ultrasound probe, which is inserted into the vagina. The healthcare provider will gently move the probe around to examine your pelvic organs.
Urinary Luteinizing Hormone (LH)
LH testing helps identify the times of greatest fertility—the days when luteinizing hormone levels rise plus the two days that follow. The test looks at whether you have LH in your urine and helps predict ovulation (when conception is most likely to happen).
LH is conducted through over-the-counter ovulation predictor kits. These kits come with test sticks, which you’ll need to urinate on for a few to several days. The stick will turn a specific color or provide a positive sign if an LH surge is detected.
Male Fertility Exams
20-30% of infertility cases are attributed to male infertility. If you and your loved one are having trouble conceiving, it’s important to also explore male fertility exams.
Here are two main types of tests that are available:
Semen analysis is a non-invasive exam where a semen sample is collected via masturbation. The sample is examined to evaluate the quantity and quality of the sperm.
More specifically, a semen analysis looks at the following factors:
- Concentration: the number of sperms per milliliter of ejaculate
- Volume: the amount of fluid that is ejaculated
- Motility: the movement of the sperms
- Morphology: the size and shape of the sperms
Depending on the outcome of the semen analysis, further tests may be done to identify less common fertility issues. One of these exams is DNA fragmentation.
DNA fragmentation occurs when there is a break in a sperm’s DNA structure. This fragmentation can be attributed to things like:
- Cigarette smoking
- Drug use
- Exposure to environmental toxins
A DNA fragmentation exam entails evaluating a semen sample under different testing methods such as sperm chromatin structure assay (SCSA) and single-cell electrophoresis assay (COMET assay).
For more information on male infertility, be sure to read up on Sperm Fertility Tests: What Are Your Options?
Preparing for Your Appointment
If you’re having difficulty conceiving, discuss your situation with a fertility specialist who can determine the best fertility exam option for you. A fertility specialist will provide expertise, compassion, and a plan for the next steps.
When it’s time to see a fertility specialist, have a list of questions prepared. These questions should help you gain a comprehensive understanding of what lies ahead. Moreover, these questions should help you initiate thoughtful and honest discussions with your specialist.
Reach Out to Future Family
IVF can help those who are struggling to start a family. At Future Family, our IVF services can connect you with fertility coaches who are all registered nurses (RNs). The coaches are here to personalize your care, debrief you after appointments, and provide knowledgeable support throughout your fertility journey.