Fertility describes one’s ability to reproduce. Infertility is a condition in which an individual or couple is unable to reproduce. This may be a frustrating and very trying time for an individual or couple who may desire to get pregnant and have a child. Infertility is generally described as an inability to get pregnant after one year of unprotected sex. If over the age of 35, it may be described as an inability to get pregnant after six months of unprotected sex. If you believe you may be infertile, it is essential to speak with a fertility specialist to help determine the possible cause of the problem.
During your consultation with a fertility doctor, he or she may ask you a litany of questions about your health and lifestyle including whether you smoke, drink heavily and how often you and your partner have sex. You may be put through a series of examinations and tests to help pinpoint the problem. Infertility may be caused by various lifestyle habits, conditions, illnesses, diseases, etc. and in many cases the only way to determine the exact cause is to speak with a fertility specialist.
Men may be asked to provide a sample of their semen and a semen analysis may be conducted to help determine the individual’s sperm count, motility, shape and other variables. A second semen analysis may be ordered to confirm the results of the first test if normal results are obtained. If two tests come back normal, the male may be considered fertile, but if something doesn’t seem right or doesn’t look right, further tests may be required. In some cases, no sperm or semen may be present, which may mean a blockage that may be corrected through surgery.
Testing for female infertility is a bit more complicated. The doctor may begin to track ovulation and evaluate the results to determine if the female is ovulating normally or not. The doctor may also measure the woman’s follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). Other tests that may be conducted include a cervical mucus test, ultrasound tests and hormone tests. Still, other procedures may be conducted to determine the cause of infertility such as hysterosalpingogram, or HSG (an x-ray of the uterus and fallopian tubes), hysteroscopy, laparoscopy or endometrial biopsy.
If you suspect infertility, speak with your doctor to discuss the possible causes, as more serious underlying conditions may be present in some cases.