Diagnosing Infertility

diagnosing infertility

Infertility issues can definitely feel daunting. So many people get pregnant easily or even accidentally, so why isn’t it working for me? Is there something wrong with me?

Absolutely not! Don’t stress yourself out because that just makes it harder! Calm down, look at the abundance of options you have, and go from there. We can make a plan.

The first step is to look at the possible causes of infertility in women, because narrowing that down can help streamline the treatment and options to get you the family of your dreams.

Female Infertility

Ovulation: If you read our When to Conceive a Baby post, you know that it’s possible to have your period without actually ovulating (without actually releasing an egg, necessary for conception). An irregular period could be the sign of an ovulation issue. Managing body weight, taking fertility drugs, or using in vitro fertilization (IVF) are possible solutions.

Endometriosis: Stars like Jamie King and Lena Dunham deal with Endometriosis, a condition where the woman’s uterine lining grows in places it shouldn’t (check out Lena Dunham’s personal essay about her experience with endometriosis). Surgery can help to remove the unwanted tissue as well as open the fallopian tubes. Fertility drugs and IVF are other possible solutions.

Egg Quality: This often connects to a woman’s age. Both the quality and amount of eggs than a woman can produce begins to decline after age 35, which is why it’s suggested that women who can’t conceive after 6 months of trying naturally should consult with a specialist. There are no symptoms for this, and many women have found success with IVF using donor eggs.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: In addition to her endometriosis, actress Jamie King deals with PCOS as well. This condition means that the follicles in the ovaries never reach maturation and cannot release the eggs. It can be caused by a hormone imbalance and can be treated with lifestyle modifications, medication, surgery, or IVF.

Tubal Issues: Your fallopian tubes are like a two-way highway. They allow the sperm to reach your egg and your egg to reach your uterus. Any problems here make it exceedingly difficult because of the small window for conception. Possible treatments include surgery and IVF.

Unexplained Infertility Problems: A doctor may diagnose unexplained problems if there’s no obvious symptom or issue inhibiting conception. Many believe this occurs because of the subtle differences in each reproductive symptom, things like follicle development, sperm function, or the way the eggs are fertilized. Lifestyle factors also contribute to fertility in a big way, so changes to that could be a possible treatment along with fertility drugs and IVF. This can happen in men or women.

Types of Tests

Ovulation Predictor Kits/Charting Basal Body Temperature: Remember when you tracked your temperature every morning to anticipate when you were ovulating? That’s this first step. There are also over-the-counter tests that predict your ovulation for you.

Blood Tests: A blood test can check plenty of levels that contribute to fertility, like luteinizing hormone, thyroid-stimulating hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, estrogen, etc.

Hysterosalpingogram: Say it three times fast! It’s actually just an x-ray that can check on your fallopian tubes to make sure there are no blocks or damages. It can also check in on your uterus to check for damage like scar tissue or fibroids.

Laparoscopy: It’s an outpatient surgery to check for things like endometriosis. It’s most helpful to women with pelvic pain or disease.

Transvaginal Ultrasound: An ultrasound probe allows the doctor to check on your follicles and make sure your ovaries can release your eggs properly. They can also check for ovarian cysts or fibroids.

Hysteroscopy: A tiny camera can investigate through your cervix to make sure there are no fibroids or polyps on your uterus.

Your next step is to see what treatment options are right for you after talking with your doctor.

Written by: Joanna Hynes