Fertility tests have long existed alongside various general health tests. But as more people, especially the younger generation like the millennials, tend to marry late, the trend of undergoing fertility tests has become a norm.
While this has become a norm for the younger generations, some couples today still shy away from learning about their fertility health. This indirectly affects their chances of starting a family. For couples who are ready, fertility tests are something that they’ll have to go through to discover what’s preventing them from starting a family of their own.
Fertility tests involve both partners – men and women. While pregnancy happens in the woman’s body, conception takes two. For a successful pregnancy, both you and your partner will have to undergo some fertility tests to find out your chances of conceiving.
In this article, we discuss some of the things you should know before going for a fertility test along with how your lifestyle can affect your fertility.
Things to know before going for fertility tests
There’s a general misconception that the female’s fertility is the most important factor while the male’s fertility is the least concerning factor.
However, based on the Ministry of Health’s guideline, male infertility accounts for 30-40% of the cases while female infertility accounts for 20% (ovulation factor) and 35% (tubal factor). The remaining percentages (5-10%) may be due to unknown causes or a mixture of reproductive problems in both partners.
Importance of fertility testing
If you’re in a serious relationship with your partner and can envision a life together, going for a fertility test is just a matter of time. Besides, the tests can provide valuable reproductive insight so that you can plan or work with your fertility doctor to develop effective treatment strategies.
That said, a comprehensive female fertility test generally includes:
- Basic gynaecological exam
- Hormone screening test
- Blood test – To check for thrombophilia and antiphospholipid syndrome (in cases of recurrent miscarriage) along with the female hormone levels.
- Ultrasound – To look for polycystic ovaries, larger ovarian cysts, and fibroids. Can also be used to check the shape of the uterus and the thickness of the uterine lining.
- Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) – To check that the fallopian tubes are open and evaluate the shape of the uterus.
Meanwhile, fertility tests for males typically include:
- General physical exam
- Semen analysis – To look for the presence of antibodies and evaluation of immobile sperm.
For males who require further fertility testing, the following screening may be conducted:
- Blood test – To check hormone levels.
- Ultrasound – To evaluate seminal vesicles and scrotum.
- Urine testing – To check for retrograde ejaculation.
- Testicular biopsy – Involves the removal of testicular tissue.
- Vasography – A specialised X-ray to look for obstructions of the male reproductive organs.
Fertility testing is like any other health tests that are necessary when it comes to family planning. However, do note that no single test can provide you or your partner with a definitive diagnosis of your fertility.
After going for fertility testing, you and your partner will meet with your gynaecologist to discuss the results, further testing if necessary, treatment methods, and the next steps. This will allow for a better direction in family planning.
Additionally, it’s always best for both partners to visit the physician’s office as fertility problems can affect either or both partners. Emotional support is also crucial as it can be mentally taxing to undergo the treatment.
Can lifestyle affect fertility?
Even if you and your partner’s fertility tests results come back normal, other factors can affect the conception process and pregnancy success. Some of the factors include age, weight, stress, smoking, diet, and physical activity.
Generally, every human’s fertility declines with age. On top of that, being overweight or underweight can also affect the female’s ovulation cycle, thus affecting their fertility. Likewise, stress can affect your relationship with your partner and cause a loss of sex drive. In some cases, it can affect ovulation and sperm production.
Additionally, smoking affects the female’s chances of conceiving and reduce semen quality in men due to the harmful chemicals found in tobacco products. The same goes for alcohol products as drinking too much alcohol can affect sperm quality. Instead of jeopardising your pregnancy plans, it’s best to not drink alcohol at all to keep the risks to a minimum.
If you have trouble getting pregnant or experience difficulty in conceiving, it can be hard to determine whether you’re infertile. The only way to know for sure is to meet with a doctor or gynaecologist and go for fertility tests.
That said, if you’re looking for a clinic that offers fertility tests, The O&G Specialist Clinic can give quality advice on the various fertility tests through a virtual consultation from the comfort of your home.