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Why Have Fertility Checks?

It is advisable to seek the help of a Fertility Specialist when starting out on your journey to having children.   They will assess both you and your partner and be able to pick up if there are any underlying issues that may make conception difficult.  It must be remembered that both the egg from the female and sperm from the male are equally as important in creating a successful Pregnancy.  If there are any potential obstacles identified then your Specialist will be able to advise on the right treatments or interventions.

A Typical Female Fertility Assessment

There is no one test that can predict your Fertility and Likelihood of Pregnancy but a Fertility Specialist can look at a range of assessment measures and then make a decision on whether you can try naturally without any intervention or whether you may need some help.

What makes up a Fertility Assessment may vary between different Fertility Specialists but below is an example of typical components of an assessment:

Medical History Review

Your Specialist will typically ask questions about your menstrual history, sexual habits, previous pregnancies or miscarriages, hereditary conditions, any gynecological surgeries and lifestyle factors such as smoking, alcohol and exercise.

Physical Examination

Includes a Pelvic examination and they may perform a Transvaginal ultrasound which will examine the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries for any abnormalities such as fibroids, polyps, or cysts.  In this ultrasound they will also be able to count the follicles in the ovaries.

Blood Tests

Commonly Blood Tests will be done to check hormone levels that control the reproductive process and some of the hormones your Fertility Specialist may want to check can include:

  • Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) – an important one – the AMH hormone is the secreted by the Follicles in the Ovaries which are the sacs that contain the eggs.   So if you have a higher AMH level it indicates a higher reserve of Follicles therefore potential eggs.  However it can not confirm how many of these Follicles contain eggs and the quality of the eggs.
  • FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) – helps to control your menstrual cycle and growth of the follicles which contain the eggs in your ovaries
  • LH (Luteinising Hormone) – linked to ovary hormone production and maturing of your eggs – measuring LH can determine if you are ovulating and help in diagnosis of hormonal imbalances such as PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome)
  • Estradiol – an important form of Estrogen and measured to determine the function of your ovaries and quality of your eggs
  • Prolactin – this hormone is made by the pituitary gland and performed to evaluate infertility and determine why a woman is not ovulating
  • Androgen – test of this hormone is used in evaluating conditions such as PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome)

Other Tests

Other tests may be arranged depending on your individual circumstances which can include:

HSG (Hysterosalpingography) – a specialised X-ray that examines the uterus and fallopian tubes to check for blockages or other problems

Laparoscopy – a minor surgical procedure using a camera to look directly at the outside of the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes to identify any abnormalities.

A Typical Male Fertility Assessment

As explained the Males contribution to a Successful Conception is 50% therefore their Fertility Health also needs to be taken into account.  Again the Assessment may different between Specialists but typical measures they will assess include:

Medical History & Physical Exam

Includes looking at any past medical history, surgeries or lifestyle habits that can impact fertility.  An ultrasound may be carried out to check for varicoceles or other physical conditions that can affect the testicles or scrotum.

Blood Tests

To check for hormone levels affecting Sperm production and depending on what your Fertility Specialist feels needs to be tested they may want to look at:

  • FSH (Follicle Simulating Hormone) – stimulates the testes to produce and transport mature sperm and helps in assessment of sperm count and function of the testes
  • LH (Luteinising Hormone) – role in the testes by making testosterone – can give indications on the males sperm production
  • Testosterone – affects a mans libido and sperm health hence testosterone supplements can negatively affect a males fertility

Semen Analysis

Often when trying for a Baby the Female’s Fertility Levels are usually the ones considered and it is forgotten that Sperm contributes 50% towards a Successful Conception.  If a large amount of the sperm being ejaculated are not healthy or have problems with their mobility (swimming) ability there is less chance of a successful Fertilisation of the Egg.  Check out the image below to show how many factors can affect the Fertilising Abilities of the Sperm.  This is why its worth the Male also having his sperm analysed when embarking on the journey of trying to conceive.

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