Frequently Asked Questions About Infertility
How will doctors find out if a woman and her partner have fertility problems? continued...
For a woman, the first step in testing is to find out if she is ovulating
each month. There are several ways to do this. A woman can track her ovulation
at home by:
- Recording changes in her morning body temperature (basal body temperature)
for several months
- Recording the texture of her cervical mucus for several months
- Using a home ovulation test kit (available at drug or grocery stores)
Doctors can also check if a woman is ovulating by doing blood tests and an
ultrasound of the ovaries. If the woman is ovulating normally, more tests are
Some common tests of fertility in women include:
- Hysterosalpingography: In this test, doctors use X-rays to check for
physical problems of the uterus and fallopian tubes. They start by injecting a
special dye through the vagina into the uterus. This dye shows up on the X-ray.
This allows the doctor to see if the dye moves normally through the uterus into
the fallopian tubes. With these X-rays doctors can find blockages that may be
causing infertility. Blockages can prevent the egg from moving from the
fallopian tube to the uterus. Blockages can also keep the sperm from reaching
- Laparoscopy: During this surgery doctors use a tool called a laparoscope to
see inside the abdomen. The doctor makes a small cut in the lower abdomen and
inserts the laparoscope. Using the laparoscope, doctors check the ovaries,
fallopian tubes, and uterus for disease and physical problems. Doctors can
usually find scarring and endometriosis by laparoscopy.
How do doctors treat infertility?
Infertility can be treated with medicine, surgery, artificial insemination,
or assisted reproductive technology. Many times these treatments are combined.
About two-thirds of couples who are treated for infertility are able to have a
baby. In most cases infertility is treated with drugs or surgery.
Doctors recommend specific treatments for infertility based on:
- Test results
- How long the couple has been trying to get pregnant
- The age of both the man and woman
- The overall health of the partners
- Preference of the partners
Doctors often treat infertility in men in the following ways:
- Sexual problems: If the man is impotent or has problems with
premature ejaculation, doctors can help him address these issues. Behavioral
therapy and/or medicines can be used in these cases.
- Too few sperm: If the man produces too few sperm, sometimes
surgery can correct this problem. In other cases, doctors can surgically remove
sperm from the male reproductive tract. Antibiotics can also be used to clear
up infections affecting sperm count.
Various fertility medicines are often used to treat women with ovulation
problems. It is important to talk with your doctor about the pros and cons of
these medicines. You should understand the risks, benefits, and side
Doctors also use surgery to treat some causes of infertility. Problems with
a woman's ovaries, fallopian tubes, or uterus can sometimes be corrected with
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is another type of treatment for
infertility.IUI is known by most people as artificial insemination. In this
procedure, the woman is injected with specially prepared sperm. Sometimes the
woman is also treated with medicines that stimulate ovulation before IUI.
IUI is often used to treat:
- Mild male factor infertility
- Women who have problems with their cervical mucus
- Couples with unexplained infertility