Fertility Tests: A to Z
Saturday August 26th, 2017
Are you trying for your first baby, or looking to complete your family? If so, it may seem like everyone in the world is getting pregnant while you are still waiting. Perhaps you want an idea of your chances of success if you opt to have IVF abroad. Perhaps you are wondering how to delay or even avoid pregnancy altogether. Whatever the reason, it is only natural to start wondering about your fertility.
Unfortunately, the chances of conceiving naturally drop rapidly from the age of 35 for women and 40 for men. Men see a decrease in the mobility of their sperm, while women are subject to a slight decline in fertility from their early thirties onwards. Women between the ages of 25 and 35 can maintain a greater chance of conceiving if they take some preservative measures. In the meantime, patients are opting for assisted reproduction treatments increasingly late in life, often successfully. There are plenty of options to consider if both partners are older.
How to test
There are many ways in which medical professionals can assess your level of fertility. A smear test, which women over the age of 21 should get done every three to five years, is a test that screens for cancer cells. It can also be useful for checking for other issues. The presence of abnormal cells could be a sign of sexually transmitted disease, so it is important to have a smear test carried out regularly. A doctor will usually undertake an examination of the cervix whilst performing a smear test, and will be able to check for any abnormalities that require attention.
Male fertility tests can be carried out at home, to check semen quality and sperm mobility. There are also home tests for women such as ovulation predictor kits, though in women with a regular ovulation pattern these will not identify issues that lead to infertility. Home testing kits are a good start for couples who are concerned about their fertility and chances of conception.
A more thorough test is a Transvaginal Ultrasound, which is a scan of the uterus. This is helpful for identifying the presence of cysts or fibroid tumours, which can be barriers to fertility. It can also help monitor patients on fertility medication. More invasively, a hysteroscopy consists of an optic camera being inserted into the patient in order to take a closer look at anything unusual in the uterus and fallopian tubes. This procedure is carried out under local anaesthetic, and any issues found can usually be rectified quickly.
Another form of testing is the post-coital test, which is performed two to eight hours after intercourse to check whether the cervical mucus is receptive to sperm. The result of this test helps IVI to decide whether artificial insemination is a viable treatment for a couple, or whether other options are more suitable. These may include IVF abroad or at home and Preimplantation Genetic Screening, which can improve implantation rates by up to 70%.
Preserving your chances
There are some ways of preserving your chances that are worth considering earlier in life rather than later. Egg freezing is a well-known option, though there are a few other preservative measures available. Egg freezing is ideal for women who are actively planning to have children later in life. It is also a sensible precaution to take for those who have not ruled out a sudden urge to have children that may hit in the distant future. Egg freezing is also an excellent choice for those who have not yet met a suitable partner. Those who have chosen to put their careers first may find that it fits into their life plan. Even those who do not envisage children in their foreseeable future can hedge their bets and prepare for the unexpected in this way. Countless women are hit later in life by a strong desire to conceive, but fear that they have missed their chance by not having thought about their fertility earlier. Another reason why many women choose to undertake egg freezing is the diagnosis or impending treatment of a serious illness such as cancer. Such a diagnosis may mean that family plans need to be postponed for a time while the treatment is ongoing. In addition, many cancer treatments are incredibly harsh and may compromise fertility drastically. This is why patients may choose to have their eggs frozen before embarking on the treatment, so that the option of conceiving is still open to them once they have recovered. What better way to get a new lease of life?
Putting eggs aside for later is a pragmatic approach to the issue of a natural drop in fertility. For the male partner, freezing sperm may also be a good idea. Though certain rock stars may have us believe that men suffer no drop in fertility as they age, studies show otherwise. There are also a number of complications that may arise with the advancing age of the male partner. Some studies point to an increased risk of autism in children born to older fathers. With this in mind, it is advisable for sperm to be frozen sooner rather than later. Sperm freezing is routine, and is much more straightforward than the female equivalent. Unlike egg harvesting, collecting semen takes a matter of minutes.
Don’t give up hope
Should you or your partner find out that your fertility is low, it is important not to give up hope. The treatments that IVI can offer you are extensive and varied. There are multiple ways in which a couple can increase their chances of conception naturally, with the help of medical professionals and medication or other procedures, or even with assisted reproduction treatments. IVF abroad or at home is usually an excellent option, and the chance of getting pregnant can reach 90%. At IVI our professional, staff are ready to investigate, take your unique situation on board and offer the assistance that is most suitable for you.