How will doctors find out if a woman and her partner have fertility problems?
Doctors will do an infertility checkup. This involves a physical exam. The
doctor will also ask for both partners' health and sexual histories. Sometimes
this can find the problem. However, most of the time, the doctor will need to do
In men, doctors usually begin by testing the semen. They look at the number,
shape, and movement of the sperm. Sometimes doctors also suggest testing the
level of a man's hormones.
In women, the first step is to find out if she is ovulating each month. There
are a few ways to do this. A woman can track her ovulation at home by:
- Writing down changes in her morning body temperature for several months
- Writing down how her cervical mucus looks for several months
- Using a home ovulation test kit (available at drug or grocery stores)
Doctors can also check ovulation with blood tests. Or they can do an
ultrasound of the ovaries. If ovulation is normal, there are other fertility
Some common tests of fertility in women include:
- Hysterosalpingography (HIS-tur-oh-sal-ping-GOGH-ru-fee): This is an
X-ray of the uterus and Fallopian tubes. Doctors inject a special dye into the uterus through the vagina. This dye shows up in the
X-ray. Doctors can then watch to see if the dye moves freely through the uterus and
Fallopian tubes. This can help them find physical blocks that may be causing infertility. Blocks in the system can keep the egg from moving from the
Fallopian tube to the uterus. A block could also keep the sperm from reaching the egg.
- Laparoscopy (lap-uh-ROS-kuh-pee): A minor surgery to see inside the abdomen. The doctor does this with a small tool with a light called a laparoscope (LAP-uh-roh-skohp). She or he makes a small cut in the lower abdomen and inserts the laparoscope. With the laparoscope, the doctor can check the ovaries,
Fallopian tubes, and uterus for disease and physical problems. Doctors can usually find scarring and endometriosis by
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.
Finding the cause of infertility can be a long and emotional process. It may take time to complete all the needed tests. So don't worry if the problem is not found right away.
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