What Tests To Expect From Your RE

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Now that you’ve found a reproductive endocrinologist (RE), you will want to prepare yourself for your first visit. You may feel excited and a bit anxious. These feelings are normal.  You are embarking on the first steps to starting your family and realizing your dream of having a child.

When you meet with your fertility specialist, she will want to take a medical history and perform a physical exam. Then, she will proceed with a series of basic tests.  Once your RE performs the necessary tests, she will review the results with you and your partner and come up with a treatment plan that is best for you.

Creating Your Treatment Plan

The thought of going through numerous tests may be daunting.  However, the tests your RE performs will help your doctor to come up with the best treatment plan.

Tests You Can Expect

Here are the tests your doctor may perform to help determine the best course of treatment.  Both members of the couple should undergo testing, in the following order:

  • Blood Test.  The doctor will draw blood from the woman and test it to determine levels of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and lutenizing hormone (LH), both key to development and quality of eggs.
  • Semen Analysis. A sperm sample is evaluated under a microscope for sperm count, motility, and shape, among other factors.
  • Cervical mucus/post-coital test. After intercourse, a sample of cervical mucus is obtained and viewed under a microscope to see if sperm can penetrate and survive in the mucus.
  • Ultrasound. A transvaginal ultrasound exam is done to assess the lining of the uterus, monitor follicle development and assess condition of the uterus and ovaries.
  • Hysterosalpinogram (HSG). A radiologist injects a special dye through the cervix and into the uterus and fallopian tubes and uses an X-ray machine to view any tumors or blockages.
  • Laparoscopy. A surgeon inserts a small fiber optic telescope into a woman’s abdomen to view the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries, and to determine the presence of endometriosis or pelvic adhesions.
  • Endometrial biopsy. A small amount of tissue is scraped from the lining of the uterus and viewed under a microscope to determine if the woman has a hormone imbalance, which prevents her from sustaining a pregnancy.

Testing for fertility problems can be rigorous and expensive.  And women often go through this extensive process before their partners. The truth is men and women contribute equally to the causes of fertility problems. But sometimes it is harder for a man to admit he may be experiencing fertility problems.

Before putting yourself through a long and sometimes expensive testing process, have your partner undergo a simple semen analysis test to eliminate that as a factor.

After Testing Is Completed: What Next?

Be sure to schedule a follow-up meeting with your doctor to discuss your test results and your options.  Use that meeting to ask your doctor questions that will help you map out your treatment.

Remember, more than half the couples who seek treatment will become pregnant1 and most patients are successfully treated with low-tech therapies.  Depending on your diagnosis, your doctor might prescribe medicines to control or regulate ovulation.  These medications are usually in pill or injectable form and are often used in conjunction with intrauterine insemination to increase chances of pregnancy.

Sometimes it is necessary for your doctor to conduct surgery to repair reproductive organs.  For example, if you have endometriosis your doctor may want to perform laparoscopic surgery to remove some of the scar tissue thereby increasing your chances of conception. Your doctor should discuss surgery with you if it’s appropriate.

Fertility treatment success rates are improving thanks to existing therapies and new technologies like recombinant fertility medications.  The more you know about infertility and its treatments and the sooner you get started, the better your chances of becoming pregnant.


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