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Infertility Testing

Your doctor will perform a series of tests on both of you when you first seek assistance with getting pregnant.

It is a good idea to chart your menstrual cycles for several months before your first appointment. Keep track of body basal temperature, mucus consistency, and dates of menstruation. This will help the doctor know whether you are ovulating regularly.

Be ready to talk about your eating habits, exercise habits, medical family history, drug use, alcohol use, and lifestyle. Be prepared to meet with your doctor for at least an hour.

The first round of tests typically consists of blood work (to check hormone levels) and STD screenings. Since male infertility is often easier to diagnose, a sperm sample will also be requested at an early stage in the process. Both of you should be prepared for a barrage of detailed questions about sexual habits, family history, lifestyle, menstrual cycle, sleeping habits, and eating habits.

If the source of the problem is still unclear, more complex testing will be done. Further analysis can check sperm motility, while ultrasounds can determine the condition of the uterus, size of the ovaries, blockage or opening of fallopian tubes, and, in the male, the testicular ducts.

A laparoscopy can help diagnose endometriosis. The doctor may carry out a hysterosalpingogram to check for fallopian tube damage. Dye is injected into the uterus; an x-ray then shows whether the dye is flowing unobstructed through the tubes into the cervix. A hysterosalpingogram is a painful procedure that causes severe cramping and pressure in the lower abdominal area but usually lasts less than 10 minutes.

Infertility tests become progressively more invasive, as well as more expensive. They can also be very stressful. Talk with your partner about how much testing you are both willing to undergo. Remember that even after months of testing, the cause of infertility may remain undetermined.

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