How Does the Doctor Determine If I Am Infertile?
For a woman, testing begins with a medical history and physical exam, including a pelvic exam. The doctor then makes sure that she ovulates regularly and that her ovaries are releasing the eggs. Blood tests are taken to measure hormone levels. The ovaries and uterus may be examined by ultrasound, and a specific X-ray test can check the uterus and fallopian tubes.
In about 80% of couples, the cause of infertility is either an ovulation problem, blockage of the fallopian tubes, or a sperm problem. In 5%-15% of couples, all tests are normal, and the cause is not known.
What Are the Treatments for Infertility?
In men, fertility is treated with:
- Surgery, if the cause is a varicoele (widening of the veins in the scrotum) or a blockage in the vas deferens, tubes that carry sperm.
- Antibiotics to treat infections in the reproductive organs.
- Medications and counseling to treat problems with erections or ejaculation.
- Hormone treatments if the problem is a low or high level of certain hormones.
In women, infertility is treated with:
- Fertility drugs and hormones to help the woman ovulate or restore levels of hormones
- Surgery to remove tissue that is blocking fertility (such as endometriosis) or to open blocked fallopian tubes
Infertility in men and woman can also be treated with assisted reproductive technology, or ART. There are several types of ART:
- IUI (intrauterine insemination): Sperm is collected and the placed directly inside the woman's uterus while she is ovulating.
- IVF (in vitro fertilization): The sperm and egg are collected and brought together in a lab. The fertilized egg grows for 3 to 5 days days. Then the embryo is placed in the woman's uterus.
- GIFT (gamete intrafallopian transfer) and ZIFT (zygote intrafallopian transfer): The sperm and egg are collected and quickly placed in a fallopian tube. With GIFT, the both sperm and eggs are placed into the fallopian tube. With ZIFT, the sperm and eggs are brought together in a lab and then a fertilized egg is placed into the tube at 24 hours.