Fertility Testing

The first step to treat infertility is to see a doctor for a fertility evaluation. Doctors that specialize in Infertility are called Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility Specialists. See our Find a Doctor section to locate a specialist in your area. She or he will test both you and your partner, to find out why there is a delay in getting pregnant. Male fertility testing will focus on the number and health of his sperm. The lab will perform a semen analysis by looking at a sample of his sperm under a microscope to check sperm number, shape, and movement. Blood tests also can be done to check hormone levels. More tests might be needed to look for infection, or problems with hormones.

Female fertility testing first looks at whether you are ovulating each month. This can be done by having you chart changes in your morning body temperature, by using an FDA-approved home ovulation test kit (which you can buy at a drug store), or by looking at your cervical mucus, which changes throughout your menstrual cycle. See our articles on Charting Your Fertility Pattern. Ovulation also can be checked in your doctor's office with an ultrasound test of the ovaries, or a simple blood test that checks your Progesterone hormone level around day 21 of the cycle. Other blood tests are important, like the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) test that is drawn on day 3 of the cycle. FSH is produced by the pituitary gland. In women, it helps control the menstrual cycle and the production of eggs by the ovaries. An elevated FSH level on cycle day 3 indicates that a woman s fertility is compromised, and fertility treatment is recommended. Luteinizing hormone, thyroid and prolactin may also be measured to determine why you are not getting pregnant. If you are ovulating, more testing may be recommended. These tests can include:

  • a hysterosalpingogram (an x-ray to check if the fallopian tubes are open and to show the shape of the inside of the uterus)
  • a laparoscopy (an exam of the tubes and other female organs for disease)
  • an endometrial biopsy (an exam of a small shred of the uterine lining to see if monthly changes in it are normal)
  • A pelvic ultrasound to look at the uterus and ovaries.

Information is provided by: The National Women's Health Information Center which is Sponsored by the Office on Women's Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services