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

Miss-Diagnosed: Heart disease is the number one killer of women, yet it’s often hidden

Miss-Diagnosed: Heart disease is the number one killer of women, yet it’s often hidden

By Laura Drucker Who do you picture when you think of a typical heart disease patient?

Beating the Biological Clock

Beating the Biological Clock

Eggs without an expiration date offer women fertile hopes By Morgan Lord Starting at age 30, women

Mind the Gap

Mind the Gap

Innovative programs provide bridge between pediatric and adult care By Nancy Maes The teen years can be

When to get a second opinion

When to get a second opinion

By Scott J. Gilbert, courtesy of Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center Getting a

The health advantages of marriage

The health advantages of marriage

Harvard Health Blog By Robert H. Shmerling, M.D. "My wife and I were happy for 20 years.

Articles By Category

Family Health

In The Know

CH Lifestyle

March 2017
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
February 26, 2017 February 27, 2017 February 28, 2017 March 1, 2017 March 2, 2017 March 3, 2017 March 4, 2017
March 5, 2017 March 6, 2017 March 7, 2017 March 8, 2017 March 9, 2017 March 10, 2017 March 11, 2017
March 12, 2017 March 13, 2017 March 14, 2017 March 15, 2017 March 16, 2017 March 17, 2017 March 18, 2017
March 19, 2017 March 20, 2017 March 21, 2017 March 22, 2017 March 23, 2017 March 24, 2017 March 25, 2017
March 26, 2017 March 27, 2017 March 28, 2017 March 29, 2017 March 30, 2017 March 31, 2017 April 1, 2017

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