Waiting to get pregnant can be extremely nerve-wracking – especially when it seems that all the women around you are nursing their own bundles of joy. Conception can take time, but if you and your partner have been trying for more than six months with no results, you may want to consider fertility tests. These tests come in all shapes and sizes – from male to female tests, and from do-it-yourself drugstore tests to hospital procedures. Consider the following information when choosing a fertility test:
If you’re having trouble conceiving, you may want to try home-based fertility tests first, to avoid the expenses and invasiveness of hospital procedures. The first thing you can do is to keep track of your basal temperature – meaning your body’s temperature immediately upon waking and before any physical activity. Typically, your body temperature will be around 97o – 97.5o before ovulation, and much lower – around 93o – after ovulation has occurred. By tracking the changes in your body temperature over time, you should be able to predict your ovulation and better schedule intercourse to increase your chances of conception.
You can also purchase an ovulation test kit – such as Ovukit or Q-Test – at any local pharmacy or through your doctor. With most of these test kits, you’ll collect a daily sample of urine, then mix the sample with various chemicals designed to measure the amount of luteinizing hormone in the urine. The level of this hormone increases significantly about 24 hours before ovulation occurs. Although the results of these tests can be difficult to decipher, using them over a period of a few months will help you to better understand your body’s monthly cycle and time your sexual activities.
However, if these at-home solutions aren’t working for you, you may need to consider a more thorough fertility evaluation conducted by your doctor. Most often, this consists of an endometrial biopsy to determine conclusively whether or not ovulation has occurred. Getting a biopsy is similar to a pelvic exam – you’ll be placed in stirrups in your doctor’s office and a speculum will be inserted into your vagina. Next, a small, thin instrument will be inserted into your uterus, where it takes a small sample of tissue that will be analyzed microscopically. Most women experience a small amount of cramping pain during this procedure, but it’s rarely significant and usually requires no anesthesia to complete.
If at-home or hospital tests indicate that you’re ovulating normally, your husband or partner may also need to undergo fertility tests to analyze the function and quality of the sperm. Men’s sperm viability can be affected by any number of things, from smoking to excessive consumption of Mountain Dew to an affinity for tight jeans or boxer shorts. If you’re trying to become pregnant, your partner may need to address these issues – especially if tests reveal no problems on your end. Fortunately, men’s fertility tests are generally much less invasive than tests for women.
Men’s fertility tests are usually always conducted in the doctor’s office – there are very few at-home test kits for men, and those that do exist aren’t considered accurate. Your doctor or urologist will ask you to give a sample on-site, since it’s important that the analysis be underway as quickly as possible. Yes – most men find this embarrassing, but remember that getting accurate test results can save you months or years of stress and worry over whether or not you’ll be able to get pregnant. Once the sample is given, lab technicians at your doctor’s office will test the number of sperm in your sample and their general condition. If any problems are identified, your doctor will work with you to determine if there are any underlying medical conditions that could be affecting your ability to conceive.