Chicago Health | Homepage
Diagnostic approaches to female infertility

Diagnostic approaches to female infertility

The Medicine Cabinet: Ask the Harvard Experts

By Joan Bengtson, M.D.

Q: What kind of tests will help me find out why I am having trouble getting pregnant?

A: Infertility affects about 15% of couples attempting pregnancy. The cause is found in the male about 20% of the time and in the female about 40% of the time. Factors involving both partners are present about one third of the time. No specific cause is found in about 15% of couples.

A successful pregnancy requires the proper function of several organs in both partners. Figuring out the cause of infertility can be difficult. It should always start with a careful medical history and physical exam.

The most important test for a male is a semen analysis, or sperm count. The test looks at the number of sperm in the ejaculate, as well as the sperm’s appearance and mobility. Other tests may include blood tests for reproductive hormones and an ultrasound to check for sperm duct blockage.

In women, hormone tests and measures of the body’s temperature at rest (basal body temperature) assess the release of the eggs.

To look for a blockage of the tubes and distortion of the uterus, dye can be injected through the cervix. The dye outlines the reproductive organs on an x-ray.

Laparoscopy is a surgical procedure used to evaluate the pelvic organs using a fiberoptic telescope. It can diagnose diseases on the surface of the tubes and ovaries that may impair fertility. These can include endometriosis and adhesions.

Finally, genetic tests can determine if a chromosome abnormality is responsible for infertility.

An infertility evaluation can be emotionally trying, expensive, and even somewhat risky. Working with experienced health care professionals in a supportive environment is important.

(Joan Marie Bengtson, M.D., is assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School and a member of the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproduction at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. For additional consumer health information, please visit www.health.harvard.edu.)

(c) 2016 PRESIDENT AND FELLOWS OF HARVARD COLLEGE. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

Similar Articles

Developments in Male Birth Control

Developments in Male Birth Control

Men’s choices are limited, but promise is on the horizon By Erika Napoletano It’s not uncommon to

Gaining Strength

Gaining Strength

Post-op exercises help breast cancer survivors win control By Nancy Maes When a woman is first diagnosed

Low Testosterone Can Cause Declines Throughout the Body

Low Testosterone Can Cause Declines Throughout the Body

By Laura Drucker Our bodies are complex centers of communication. And testosterone is a hormone with

Care Quandary: Quality Rating Systems Can Help You Make the Best Decisions

Care Quandary: Quality Rating Systems Can Help You Make the Best Decisions

By Nancy Maes When your aging parent or loved one starts forgetting to take medications, lets unopened

Defending Yourself Against Ovarian Cancer, The Silent Killer

Defending Yourself Against Ovarian Cancer, The Silent Killer

By Kate Silver When Angelina Jolie Pitt had a double mastectomy in 2013 to prevent breast

Articles By Category

Family Health

In The Know

CH Lifestyle

September 2016
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
August 28, 2016 August 29, 2016 August 30, 2016 August 31, 2016 September 1, 2016 September 2, 2016 September 3, 2016
September 4, 2016 September 5, 2016 September 6, 2016 September 7, 2016 September 8, 2016 September 9, 2016 September 10, 2016
September 11, 2016 September 12, 2016 September 13, 2016 September 14, 2016 September 15, 2016 September 16, 2016 September 17, 2016
September 18, 2016 September 19, 2016 September 20, 2016 September 21, 2016 September 22, 2016 September 23, 2016 September 24, 2016
September 25, 2016 September 26, 2016 September 27, 2016 September 28, 2016 September 29, 2016 September 30, 2016 October 1, 2016

Categories

Recent Comments

Swing for the fences in the fight to Sideline Pancreatic Cancer

Swing for the fences in the fight to Sideline Pancreatic Cancer

Enjoy a great night of baseball at Peoples Natural

VIEW ARTICLE
Cost to give birth 1943 - Page 3 - Defending The Truth Political Forum

Cost to give birth 1943 - Page 3 - Defending The Truth Political Forum

A Hazy Shade of Healthcare: What does tort reform

VIEW ARTICLE

Archives