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Fertility Tests for Women

Doctors arbitrarily diagnose infertility when a couple hasn't conceived a child after 12 months of unprotected and regular sex. Impaired fertility may be a better description, though. Many women who keep trying will get pregnant in the second year or later.

Whatever its name, infertility is a call to take advantage of available fertility testing and treatments that can improve your chances of pregnancy. Fertility testing is something couples should do together, since the male is the sole cause of fertility problems 30% of the time.

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Your Guide to Female Infertility

Infertility is the inability to get pregnant after a year of unprotected intercourse.  About 10% of couples in the United States are affected by infertility. Both men and women can be infertile. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1/3 of the time the diagnosis is due to female infertility, 1/3 of the time it is linked to male infertility, and the remaining cases of infertility are due to a combination of factors from both partners. For approximately 20% of couples, the cause cannot...

Read the Your Guide to Female Infertility article > >

 

The Infertility Interview

Experts recommend visiting a doctor for an infertility evaluation after six to 12 months of unprotected and regular sex without pregnancy. Infertility testing is best done by an infertility specialist.

The first step is a detailed interview. A thorough infertility interview should involve both partners, and ask about:

  • Your medical histories, including any chronic illnesses or surgeries
  • Your use of prescription medication
  • Your use of caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs
  • Your exposure to chemicals, toxins, or radiation in the home or at work
  • How often you have sex
  • Your history of birth control use
  • Any history of sexually transmitted diseases
  • Any problems having sex
  • Whether either of you has had sex outside the relationship

Infertility is due to problems related to the woman about two-thirds of the time. A doctor will likely ask a woman questions about her gynecologic history:

  • Have you been pregnant before and what was the outcome of those pregnancies?
  • How often have you had periods over the last year?
  • Have you had irregular and missed periods or had spotting between periods?
  • Have you had any changes in blood flow or the appearance of large blood clots?
  • What methods of birth control have you used?
  • Have you seen a doctor before for fertility problems and undergone treatment for them?

Infertility Tests for Women

There is no single best test or ideal workup for infertility. In practice, doctors perform multiple tests and exams to identify any problems that might be contributing to a woman's infertility.

Pap Smear
Most women are familiar with this basic gynecologic test. The Pap smear and pelvic exam are best at detecting cervical cancer, other problems with the cervix, or active sexually transmitted diseases. Any of these can interfere with fertility in women.

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