Fertility Testing

Fertility Testing

Fertility Testing

Fertility testing is the process by which a medical professional assesses a “fertile window” and also discovers potential issues that are preventing pregnancy. The fertility testing process can range from very involved to very simple and largely depends on the individual or couple in question. At Alabama Fertility, our doctors review your individual history to determine the best way to evaluate your infertility issues. The results of the test assist us in tailoring a fertility treatment option that works best for you.

Infertility Testing Information
The basic infertility test and evaluation will include testing to assess numerous functions and potential issues. We typically perform the following when performing a fertility test:
•Assessment of Ovulatory Function
•Assessment of the Fallopian Tubes and Uterus
•Review of the Male Partner, if applicable
•Semen Analysis
•Hormone Level Testing
•Home Urine LH Testing
•Basal Body Temperature Charting
•Transvaginal Ultrasound,
•HSG and Post-Coital Test
•Surgical Evaluations to Determine Pelvic Adhesions or Endometriosis
We offer in-depth information on all of these tests, so be sure to click our sidebar menu if you’d like more information on these procedures and how they can help our patients with their infertility issues.

What to Expect When Undergoing Fertility Testing
Fertility testing is a great first step to take for couples or individuals who are interested in starting a family but are having difficulty conceiving. When you first visit a doctor, the medical professional will ask questions relating to your health. This includes information pertaining to your:
•Medical history including any chronic medical conditions or past surgeries
•Current prescriptions as well as your alcohol consumption or illicit drug usage
•Dietary habits including caffeine intake
•How often you have sex and what birth control is used, if applicable
•Sexual health including any past or current STDs, problems with sex, and frequency of sex
•For women, questions about your period, its regularity, and other issues will be asked

For questions or to schedule a fertility test at our clinic call us at 205-874-0000 or visit our contact us page to schedule your appointment.

Semen Analysis

It is estimated that about 40% of all infertility is attributable to a problem with the male partner. The semen analysis, therefore, is an essential step in the infertility evaluation.

What is Semen Analysis?

Semen Analysis is also called a seminogram and it is one of the most important tests for determining male fertility or infertility. This test evaluates the semen and the sperm within and identifies any issues that may be hindering conception. Some of the issues this analysis is able to determine includes:

  • Concentration of Sperm – A normal sperm count is around 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen. If analysis determines low sperm count, Alabama Fertility can then use that information to better adjust our conception strategies for our patients.
  • Semen Levels– the volume of sperm should be around 1.5 milliliters. Patients who produce a sample that is below the norm might be experiencing prostate issues or issues with seminal vesicles in regards to their production or possible blockages. Looking at the volume produced helps our doctors better evaluate
  • Movement – How the sperm move and how well they can move helps our doctors determine if there are any issues stemming from the patient’s sperm. As well, we can identify sperm that are not moving which can further help us diagnose infertility issues with the male patients.
  • Morphology – The appearance and overall size of the sperm have an impact on their ability to fertilize an egg. Identifying morphology issues, much like movement issues, helps our doctors better understand infertility issues and provide treatments and diagnosis that can help improve the chances of conception.
  • Additional Issues – Semen analysis is also used to determine PH levels and acidity. Abnormal acidity can have a strong negative impact on overall semen health. Other additional issues we can detect are fructose levels as well as liquefaction factors and timing.

How A Semen Analysis Sample is Collected

The sample should, ideally, be collected by masturbation. You should only use a lubricant safe for fertility use, like PreSeed. If you are unable to collect a sample by masturbation, please let your doctor or nurse know. We can provide a special Silicone condom that you may use with intercourse. Abstain from intercourse for 48 hours prior to collecting your semen sample, but do not abstain for longer than a week. There are no known side effects or risks associated with this type of analysis.

We also recommended that patients abstain from alcohol before the test as well as avoid caffeine or drug use including cocaine and marijuana. We also encourage our patients to suspend taking any herbal medications and avoid any hormone medications that have not been prescribed by a doctor.

How to Care for the Sample

It is important that the semen sample arrive at the laboratory within 45 minutes after collection. Keep it warm, but do not overheat the sample. Our laboratory accepts samples for semen analysis by appointment. We do have a private room for sample collection in our office. If it is more convenient, we will be happy to assist you in scheduling this test at a laboratory near your hometown.

As this type of analysis is by appointment only, your physician will go over any questions, concerns, and what to do with the sample in greater detail. However, if you have questions or if you’d like to schedule an appointment contact Alabama Fertility today and one of our specialists will schedule your appointment.

Hormone Levels

Hormone evaluation is particularly useful in evaluating ovarian function. These tests are performed by obtaining a blood sample at specific times during your menstrual cycle. The following are some of the tests that may be ordered for you based on your history:

Androgen Levels

Androgens, often referred to as “male hormones,” are normally produced in women by the ovaries and adrenal glands. However, some women produce high levels of androgens that result in ovulatory dysfunction.

Ovarian Reserve Testing

Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), Luteinizing Hormone (LH) and Estradiol (E2) levels are generally low in the very early part of the menstrual cycle of women with normal ovarian reserve. However, in women with diminished ovarian reserve (perimenopause or menopause), these levels may be elevated. Anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) is another marker of ovarian reserve. This is a blood test that can be done at any time in the menstrual cycle.

Progesterone Levels (P4)

Progesterone is produced by the remnants of the follicle after ovulation, called the corpus luteum. Ovulation can be confirmed if the progesterone level reaches a specific threshold a week after ovulation. 

Home Urine LH Testing

A large amount of Luteinizing Hormone (LH), also referred to as the “LH surge,” occurs prior to ovulation. This surge may be detected in blood testing in our office or urine testing at home. Although a number of home ovulation prediction kits are commercially available, we recommend Clear Blue Easy. This particular kit is simple, accurate and takes less than five minutes to perform the test. Testing should begin prior to the expected time of ovulation, generally beginning on day 10 of the menstrual cycle. It is important to test your urine between 11am and 2pm to detect the onset of the LH surge. Ovulation will occur the following day. Therefore, unless other tests or procedures are scheduled, you should have intercourse that day and the following day. You may stop testing after you test positive for your LH surge.

Basal Body Temperature Charting

Basal body temperature (BBT) charting may be recommended to evaluate your ovulation. Although BBT charting is not predictive of ovulation, it can be useful in confirming that ovulation has occurred in a particular cycle. This test is inexpensive, relatively convenient and noninvasive.

BBT charting is performed by taking the temperature immediately upon awakening each morning using a basal body thermometer. This thermometer is graduated in 0.1°, as opposed to 0.2° and can be found at any pharmacy or grocery store. After taking your temperature each morning, you should plot it on a graph that we will give to you. Your temperature will increase by about one degree after you have ovulated due to progesterone production. Therefore, do NOT wait until your temperature rises to have intercourse.

Transvaginal Ultrasound

Transvaginal ultrasound, or sonography, is extremely useful in the diagnosis and treatment of infertility. This technique is useful in the evaluation of the pelvic structures, monitoring follicle growth and assessing ovulation.

A transvaginal ultrasound is often recommended early in your infertility evaluation. Such abnormalities as uterine fibroids, endometrial polyps, ovarian cysts and endometriomas can be visualized with sonography.

Hysterosalpingogram (HSG)

The hysterosalpingogram, or HSG, is an X-ray procedure to evaluate your uterus and fallopian tubes. This procedure involves the introduction of dye into the uterus through a small catheter placed through the cervix. X-rays are then taken as the dye passes through the uterus and out the ends of the fallopian tubes. This procedure generally takes only about 10-15 minutes to complete. Please let your doctor know if you are allergic to iodine or contrast. Please follow the instructions listed below:

  • An HSG should be performed after you have stopped bleeding, but before you ovulate; this is generally between cycle days 6 and 12. Our appointments secretary will assist you in scheduling at just the right time in your cycle.
  • Some patients experience mild, menstrual-like cramps. We recommend that you take Advil or Motrin approximately 30-45 minutes before your scheduled appointment to minimize any discomfort. It is normal to have vaginal spotting for a couple of days after the procedure. Most patients have no problems following an HSG.
  • You will be informed of the preliminary results at the time of the procedure. For further discussion of your results and treatment plan, please schedule an appointment to see your physician about two weeks after your HSG.

Post-Coital Test

The post-coital test (PCT) is used to evaluate cervical mucus production and mucus-sperm interaction at the time of ovulation. At this time, the cervical mucus should be clear, thin and watery. You may notice this as a vaginal discharge. During intercourse, sperm must swim through the cervical mucus to the uterus and fallopian tubes. Thus, sperm must be able to survive in the cervical mucus for pregnancy to occur after intercourse. The PCT is a quick, simple test that is performed on the day of ovulation based on the LH surge. You will be asked to check your urine with a home ovulation kit (Clear Plan Easy) beginning on the 10th day of your menstrual cycle. You should call our office on the day of your surge to schedule your test for the following day. You should have intercourse 2 to 6 hours prior to your appointment time. The actual test involves the placement of a speculum into the vagina (similar to a Pap smear), sampling the cervical mucus and evaluating the sample under the microscope. You will be given the results of this test before you leave our office.

Laparoscopy

Laparoscopy is an outpatient surgical procedure that is used to evaluate a woman’s pelvis. Conditions such as endometriosis, pelvic adhesions, uterine fibroids and tubal disease may be diagnosed during this procedure. Oftentimes, the physician is able to treat these problems during the laparoscopy.

Patients undergoing laparoscopy will have general anesthesia. Once you are asleep, a thin, lighted telescope-like viewing instrument is inserted through the navel and abdominal wall, and your abdomen is filled with carbon dioxide gas. This allows the physician to examine the female reproductive organs and abdominal cavity.