Diagnosis and Treatment
- Often there are no signs or symptoms associated with an infertility problem. Listening to your body and getting regular checkups will help to detect a problem. Early detection and treatment of a problem are often critical in achieving successful pregnancy outcomes later.
- Doctors typically begin with a physical exam and both partner’s health and sexual histories.
- In men, doctors start with testing the semen. They evaluate the number, shape and movement of the sperm. Some physicians will also test the male’s hormones. A slightly abnormal semen analysis does not mean that a man is necessarily infertile. Instead, a semen analysis helps determine if and how male factors are contributing to infertility. Sometimes a man is born with the problems that affect his sperm. Other times problems start later in life due to illness or injury.
- Expert suggest seeking medical attention if no pregnancy has occurred after 1 year of trying. Women 35 or older should see their doctors after six months of trying. Some health problems also increase the risk of infertility. Women should talk to their doctors if they have:
- Irregular periods or no menstrual periods
- Very painful periods
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- More than one miscarriage
- Approximately 44% of women with infertility have sought medical assistance. Of those who seek medical intervention, approximately 65% give birth. (Infertility As A Covered Benefit, William M. Mercer, 1997)
- Number of women ages 15-44 who have ever used infertility services: 7.4 million
- The first step in women is verifying ovulation each month. Then additional tests can be completed if necessary. These include:
- Hysterosalpingography (HIS-tur-oh-sal-ping-GOGH-ru-fee): This is an x-ray of the uterus and fallopian tubes. Doctors inject a special dye into the uterus through the vagina. This dye shows up in the x-ray. Doctors can then watch to see if the dye moves freely through the uterus and fallopian tubes. This can help them find physical blocks that may be causing infertility. Blocks in the system can keep the egg from moving from the fallopian tube to the uterus. A block could also keep the sperm from reaching the egg.Laparoscopy (lap-uh-ROS-kuh-pee): A minor surgery to see inside the abdomen. The doctor does this with a small tool with a light called a laparoscope (LAP-uh-roh-skohp). She or he makes a small cut in the lower abdomen and inserts the laparoscope. With the laparoscope, the doctor can check the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus for disease and physical problems. Doctors can usually find scarring and endometriosis by laparoscopy.
How is Infertility Treated?