Fertility and reproductive screenings have long existed alongside general health screening. Though there is increased awareness among today’s young adults, it’s still a topic that’s often overlooked by many couples.
Back in the day, fertility held great significance to any family or couple who are looking to extend their family’s bloodline. However, in this new technological era, having children may not be a priority for new couples today.
Even if you’re not planning to have children in the near future, a fertility and reproductive screening can still benefit you and your partner to come up with a family plan that works for both of you. Going for a fertility screening can also help you and your partner to make the impossible, possible – resolve underlying causes that may prevent natural pregnancy. Besides, for your family plan to succeed, both you and your partner have to go for a fertility and reproductive screening.
What is a fertility test?
What is the difference between fertility test and pre-conception screening?
Pre-conception carrier screening is a genetic test that determines whether there is potential risk of a genetic disorder that runs in the family. Doctors would advice to take a pre-conception carrier screening if you have concerns regarding a disorder due to family history, or you would like to have a more informed decision before having a baby.
How is fertility test different between men and women?
Before any fertility tests, your doctor or the clinic will consider you and your partner’s medical history along with your sexual habits. That way, they can understand and make recommendations to improve your chances of conceiving.
The common tests for both you and your partner include a hormone screening test and pelvic ultrasounds:
Hormone screening test
Your doctor may arrange a blood test for you and your partner to check for the levels of fertility-related hormones such as follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinising hormone (LH) oestrogen, progesterone, prolactin, testosterone and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH).
Depending on your doctor, either one of the couple or both partners have to undergo a pelvic ultrasound. In females, this fertility test may check for pelvic inflammatory disease or uterine fibroids while examining the size and shape of the uterus. For males, this fertility test checks on the condition of the prostate gland and seminal vesicles.
Fertility tests for women
Women’s fertility lies heavily on her ovary’s ability to release healthy eggs which must be allowed to pass into the fallopian tubes and join the sperm for fertilisation. The egg must then travel to the uterus and implant on the lining. If any of these processes are impaired, a number of tests must be carried out.
Therefore, female fertility checks involves physical examinations and gynaecological exam to determine the health of the body for conception, egg reserves and ovulatory activity.
Fertility test for egg reserves
Antral Follicle Count
– This procedure is done through transvaginal ultrasound scan, which involves inserting an ultrasound probe into the vagina
Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) Level
– This assessment is done through a simple blood test to determine the level of AMH, indicating the amount of antral follicles a woman has during the test.
Fertility test for ovulation
Transvaginal Ultrasound Scan
– This procedure is done throughout a menstrual cycle to determine the growth of dominant follicles.
– This test would be done across a few mentstrual cycles if the cycles are irregular.
– Progesterone is excreted by the ovary after ovulation. A blood test is done to assess the level of progesterone hormone which helps interpret whether ovulation has occurred.
Luteinising Hormone Test
– a urine test can be done at home using a urine (LH) test to detect LH surge that happens a few days before ovulation.
Other fertility assessment methods include hysterosalpingogram (HSG), hysteroscopy or laparoscopy.
Fertility tests for men
Male fertility requires their testicles to produce sufficient healthy sperms which are ejaculated effectively into the vagina and travel to the egg. If these processes are impaired, a number of tests must be carried out.
The tests may include a general physical exam, genital exam, semen analysis, genetic testing, testicular biopsy and other specific tests.
Infertility means the inability to conceive after a year of pregnancy attempt. Women who can get pregnant but unable to stay pregnant may also be infertile.
When it comes to reproductive matters, there’s a general misconception that the female’s health is the most important factor while the male’s, the least concerning factor.
According to the Ministry of Health, infertility affects about one in seven couples with male infertility factor accounting for 30-40% of the cases while female infertility accounts for 20% (ovulation factor) and 35% (tubal factor).
The remaining percentage (5-10%) may be due to a mixture of reproductive problems in both partners or unknown causes. Thus, a fertility test will generally include both you and your partner.
What causes infertility?
Infertility can be due to a number of factors, be it the male or female reproductive systems. However, there are times when it’s not possible to explain and understand the causes of infertility.
Common causes of infertility include:
- Irregular ovulation
- Poor quality semen
- Blocked or damaged fallopian tubes
Other contributing factors can also affect a person’s fertility such as:
- Age – Fertility declines as you age
- Weight – Being overweight or underweight can affect a female’s ovulation cycle
- Sexually-transmitted infections (STIs)
- Lifestyle habits – Smoking can affect a female’s ability to conceive and reduce semen quality in males. Alcohol consumption can also affect a pregnant female and sperm quality in males.
Stress – When you’re living in a high-paced society like Singapore, it can affect your relationship with your partner, cause a loss of sex drive, and affect ovulation and sperm production.
What are the signs of infertility?
The main sign of infertility for any young couple today is no sign of pregnancy after various attempts.
In women, the signs of infertility may include irregular menstrual cycle, painful or heavy periods, hormonal changes, and pain during sexual intercourse. While in men, infertility signs may include hormonal imbalance, erectile dysfunction, problems with ejaculation, pain or swelling in the genital area, and low sex drive.If you or your partner experiences any of these signs and have been trying to conceive after more than a year, chances are that both of you need to seek professional help for a thorough diagnosis.
When is the best time for a fertility test?
This depends on your situation. If you’re in a serious relationship with your partner and can envision a future together, going for a fertility test is just a matter of time. Just make sure that you give yourself or your partner ample time to work out your family planning.
Even if you’re not in a serious relationship or don’t have a partner at the moment, going for a fertility check-up will allow you to understand your overall health and well-being. Besides, it’s never too early or too late to go for a fertility test in Singapore at The O&G Specialist Clinic.
How much does a fertility test cost?
Depending on where you plan to get your fertility health check, it typically ranges between $200 and $600. For a higher range of fertility and reproductive screening, it may cost above $1,000 for more treatments. You can visit any gynaecologist, fertility clinics, public or private hospitals in Singapore to get your fertility check-up.
If you and your partner decide to go together for fertility tests, there are couple packages available at certain private hospitals that offers gynaecology in Singapore. If you decide on the public route, you and your partner may obtain a referral from a polyclinic for a subsidised rate of fertility tests. The two of you will then be referred to government hospitals. Now that you know what goes into getting either you or your partner’s fertility tested, it’s safe to say that early testing will give you the ability to plan and resolve any underlying condition that may affect your family planning in the future.