An infertility evaluation is a step-by-step process that can take from one to three months. A thorough evaluation of both partners may determine the cause of infertility and the most appropriate treatment to help them get pregnant.
There are many things that can stand in the way of normal fertility. Sometimes the causes are readily detectable. Other times more in-depth testing is required.
How long should a couple try to conceive naturally before seeking medical help?
Couples should have sexual relations three to four times a week during the week before ovulation. The egg (oocyte) only survives for 24 hours after ovulation, so good timing is essential.
Women younger than 35 are usually advised to try to get pregnant naturally for 12 months before consulting a physician. A couple with prior knowledge of conditions such as irregular menstrual cycles or a history of tubal infections should consider basic examinations sooner.
Women older than 35 should request an initial examination after only six months of trying to get pregnant and women older than 40 may begin fertility tests immediately.
Most gynecologists have ample training to handle the basic infertility workup for women, although some refer patients to a specialist immediately. Some OB/GYNs begin the testing process and appropriate treatments, then refer the couple to a fertility specialist if simple treatments are not successful.
When should you get help from a fertility specialist?
Dr. Louis Weckstein talks about the clues that show it’s time to find an infertility specialist.
Both male and female partners undergo infertility examinations. For men, semen analysis assesses sperm health and function. For women, specialists assess ovulatory functions by monitoring menstrual cycle history, which may include ovulation test kits and testing hormone levels.
Additional testing may be required, including ultrasound examination of the ovaries and uterus, and hysterosalpingogram (HSG), or an X-ray test to look for structural problems of the fallopian tubes or uterus.
After diagnosing the suspected cause of infertility, we try to explore the easiest, most inexpensive options first – such as ovulation induction and other fertility medications – working our way up to assisted reproductive technologies such as IUI (intrauterine insemination), IVF (in vitro fertilization), and maybe even ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection – used in conjunction with IVF), and PGD (preimplantation genetic diagnosis).
Every patient’s process will be different based on their unique situation. While a couple may be able to achieve pregnancy with simple fertility medications, others will need to go directly to IVF treatment.
The Reproductive Science Center of the Bay Area is a leading pioneer in infertility treatments including IVF with egg donation and LGBTQ family building. We’ll work with you to help you achieve your dreams of having a baby.