Unmasking The Journey: A Comprehensive Guide to the Basic Fertility Evaluation
Many couples dream of building a family, but infertility and pregnancy complications can make it seem impossible. If you're facing unexpected difficulties on the path to parenthood, you're not alone. Millions worldwide face similar challenges. In fact, according to the CDC, “in the United States, among married women aged 15 to 49 years with no prior births, about 1 in 5 (19%) are unable to get pregnant after one year of trying (infertility).”
But we're here to walk you through your journey to parenthood by helping to demystify the basic evaluation and provide valuable insights and guidance.
Before we dive into the infertility evaluation, let's first define infertility.
Infertility is the inability to conceive after one year of regular, unprotected sexual intercourse. This duration is reduced to six months for females over 35. However, infertility is not just a woman's issue – it affects both males and females nearly equally. When a heterosexual couple is struggling to conceive, 50% of the time, the issue is with the male.
The Importance of a Comprehensive Infertility Evaluation
Identifying the root cause of infertility is a complex. We begin with a thorough work-up to help pinpoint the specific issue or issues preventing conception. This process also helps create and tailor the optimal treatment strategy for each individual or couple, improving the likelihood of a successful birth.
A Peek into the Basic Infertility Evaluation Process
The basic process consists of a series of evaluations.
1. Initial Consultation and Medical History
Our initial consultation includes all parties involved. This meeting allows us to understand your medical history, lifestyle, and any genetic conditions that could affect fertility.
2. Semen Analysis
For males, a semen analysis is an essential part of the work-up. This test examines the health and viability of sperm, providing insights into sperm count, morphology (shape), and motility (movement).
3. Ovary and Hormon Assessment
For females, we must determine if you’re ovulating and need to take a look at a few key fertility hormones – FSH, Estrogen, and AMH. Depending on your history, we will run blood tests, and complete an ultrasound.
4. Imaging Studies
Imaging studies such as ultrasound, hysterosalpingogram (HSG), or an MRI can provide valuable insights into the physical structure of the reproductive organs. These tests can identify problems such as blocked fallopian tubes, fibroids, or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). If endometriosis is suspected, laparoscopy may be recommended to remove affected tissue hindering conception.
5. Understanding the Results and Moving Forward
After all tests are completed, we will arrange a meeting to discuss the results with you. If we are able to identify the specific cause of infertility, we will provide you with information on the available treatment options. In some cases, the reason for infertility may remain unknown, which is referred to as "unexplained infertility." However, even in these instances, there are still treatment options available. It's important to note that many couples with unexplained infertility have successfully conceived.
Your (In)Fertility Journey is Personal
Remember, understanding and addressing infertility is a journey, not a destination. A comprehensive infertility evaluation is the first step to identifying potential issues and working toward a solution. Feeling overwhelmed and having questions is a perfectly normal and understandable response. You don't have to face it alone. Seeking help and guidance is a positive step toward gaining clarity and finding solutions– that's why we’re here to help.
We understand that each couple is unique, and our team of fertility specialists will provide personalized care with compassion and expertise to support you throughout your journey.