Washington Center for Reproductive Medicine

Infertility Tests in the Male and Female

Correct diagnosis of fertility problems in both the male and female are the first steps in treating infertility. Treatment should not be initiated until an understanding of the potential problems in both partners has been developed. Many of the various fertility tests listed below will be ordered to assess the many processes that must occur in order for pregnancy to result.

These tests include measuring the male’s ability to produce enough quality sperm to cause fertilization. In the female, the uterusovariestubes and other reproductive structures will be evaluated. Additionally, the many complex hormone interactions will be evaluated.

Male Fertility Investigation

Male factor is a major cause of infertility being implicated in over 47% of infertile couples. Infertility can no longer be considered “a female problem” and certainly no treatment of the female should begin prior to the male evaluation. The male semen analysis is one of the most important diagnostic tests.

The semen analysis must be performed by a laboratory with infertility expertise using the “Kruger Strict Criteria". These criteria establish the normal, and abnormal, values for specific sperm characteristics. Most importantly, the shape of the sperm and its capacity to fertilize eggs.  It is usually best if a reproductive laboratory with extensive infertility experience performs the semen analysis. 

Some managed care companies direct patients to commercial laboratories, which may, or may not, have personnel familiar with the many subtle sperm characteristics. The test is not expensive and the possible “out of pocket” cost for using a reproductive laboratory with an andrologist is far outweighed by the potential benefits.

Male Fertility Tests

Female Investigation

The initial step in performing a female fertility investigation is an exploration of the patient's medical history, including:

  • Past medical and surgical events
  • Sexual development
  • Use of birth control
  • Previous pregnancies including terminations
  • A complete physical including a gynecological evaluation will be conducted

Many of the various tests listed below will be ordered to document:

  • Can an egg be produced that will fertilize and develop?
  • Is the cervical mucus the correct consistency and free of antisperm antibodies?
  • Will the endometrium develop properly to support an implanting embryo?
  • Are the tubes open and able to transport an egg?
  • Are conditions that can affect infertility such as PCOSendometriosis, or others present?
  • Is the uterus free of major obstructions and congenital deformities?

Female Fertility Tests

 


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