Frequently Asked Questions About Infertility
How long should women try to get pregnant before calling their doctors? continued...
Some health issues also increase the risk of fertility problems. So women
with the following issues should speak to their doctors as soon as
- Irregular periods or no menstrual periods
- Very painful periods
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- More than one miscarriage
No matter how old you are, it's always a good idea to talk to a doctor
before you start trying to get pregnant. Doctors can help you prepare your body
for a healthy baby. They can also answer questions on fertility and give tips
How will doctors find out if a woman and her partner have fertility problems?
Sometimes doctors can find the cause of a couple's infertility by doing a
complete fertility evaluation. This process usually begins with physical exams
and health and sexual histories. If there are no obvious problems, like poorly
timed intercourse or absence of ovulation, tests will be needed.
Finding the cause of infertility is often a long, complex, and emotional
process. It can take months for you and your doctor to complete all the needed
exams and tests. So don't be alarmed if the problem is not found right
For a man, doctors usually begin by testing his semen. They look at the
number, shape, and movement of the sperm. Sometimes doctors also suggest
testing the level of a man's hormones.
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.