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Infertility Tests - Overview

Where are infertility tests done?

Many infertility tests, including the physical exam, medical history, and blood tests, can be done in your doctor's office or clinic by an obstetrician or reproductive endocrinologist. Your internist or family medicine physician may do some of the first tests. Tests on a man may be done by a urologist. Some medical procedures are done in an operating room.

What are the benefits of infertility tests?

Infertility tests may find what is causing the problem and you can sometimes be treated during the tests. For example, a blocked fallopian tube may be opened during a hysterosalpingogram.

Sometimes tests cannot find the cause of infertility. And not all infertility problems can be treated. Infertility in men is often less successfully treated than infertility in women. But you may still be able to become pregnant using assisted reproductive technology, which can treat male or female problems.

What tests are done first?

Tests to find the cause of infertility
Test Description

Both partners: Medical history

Your doctor will ask questions about your sex life, your birth control methods, any sexually transmitted infections (STIs), medicine use, and the use of caffeine, tobacco, alcohol, or illegal drugs. Your menstrual cycle and exercise patterns will be checked. If STIs are suspected, more tests may be done.

Both partners: Physical exam

A complete physical exam of both you and your partner is done to check your health.

  • A woman's physical exam usually includes a pelvic examination and Pap test.
    Pap Test
    Pelvic Examination
  • A man's physical exam usually includes a testicular examination. Not all fertility doctors will do a physical examination of the man. If there are problems with the semen, the doctor may refer the male partner to a urologist.
    Testicular Examination

Both partners: Blood or urine tests

  • Luteinizing hormone (LH) and progesterone tests may be done during a woman's menstrual cycle to help see whether she is ovulating. LH may be checked in a man to see whether he has a pituitary gland problem.
    Luteinizing Hormone (LH)
  • Thyroid function tests may be done to check for thyroid hormone problems that may be preventing ovulation.
    Thyroid Hormone Tests
    Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH)
  • Prolactin is a hormone made by the pituitary gland. It may be checked if a woman has menstrual cycle or ovulation problems.
  • The anti-mullerian hormone test is a blood test that is sometimes used to check a woman's egg supply (ovarian reserve). It may be used for women who are considering IVF. Anti-mullerian levels go down as a woman's egg supply decreases, which usually happens with age.
  • In some cases, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) may be used to check a woman's egg supply (ovarian reserve). FSH testing may also be used for men with a very low number of sperm to try to find out the source of the problem.
    Follicle-Stimulating Hormone
  • A testosterone test may be used to see whether a problem with the testicles or pituitary gland is preventing a man from being able to father a child. A low amount of testosterone can lead to low sperm counts.
  • Tests for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) may be done. These may include urine samples or samples from the cervix or urethra.

Male partner: Semen analysis

A semen analysis checks the number of sperm (sperm count), the number of sperm that look normal, the number of sperm that can move normally, the number of white blood cells in the semen, and how much semen is made.

Semen Analysis

Female partner: Home test

Home LH urine test kits can be used to see when ovulation occurs. Sometimes a woman's basal body temperature (BBT) is also checked at the same time.

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