Fertility Tests at Cape Fertility
If you want to know more about fertility tests and where to get them, you will be pleased to know that when you come to see us at Cape Fertility, you can expect a number thorough and advanced fertility tests that will help us identify quickly what your specific fertility challenge is and what treatment would be most effective for you to achieve a pregnancy.
It is important to understand that every couple struggling with infertility has a different underlying issue that is preventing a pregnancy, and that there are a great many possible causes of infertility. For some couples, there may be an issue with the sperm, for others there may be a problem with the fallopian tubes, or there might be underlying endometriosis or a challenge with the eggs. The first step then in any fertility treatment is to identify where the problem might be and then to individualise your treatment accordingly.
So, what can you expect when you come to see us for the first time at Cape Fertility?
You and your partner will meet one of our four fertility specialists, and we will start your consultation by taking your and your partner’s medical history, looking at issues such as your families’ medical histories, any previous pregnancies or miscarriages, previous or current medical treatments, allergies or underlying medical problems. We will find out more about surgeries you might have had, such as the removal of tubes or cysts, or pregnancies in the tubes, or even a burst appendix, as well as injuries and bad infections such as STDs (sexually transmitted diseases).
We will also ask about your social life: where you work and what you do, what kind of stresses you have in your life and whether either partner is drinking, smoking or using recreational drugs – all of which can affect fertility. We might also check your sugar levels, your insulin levels, and your cholesterol levels.
The next step is an examination that will be a lot like a normal gynaecological examination, except we do look for several extra issues. We might also do a pap smear to check on your cervical health.
An internal examination is done to check the uterus, to look at each ovary and to see if there is any scarring inside of the pelvis. An internal ultrasound exam provides a good look at the uterus and the ovaries to reveal any signs of pathology.
We check the lining, which is the inner most part of the uterus, to make sure it is thick enough and whether there is scar tissue, polyps or fibroids that need to be removed.
Each ovary is checked for signs of endometriosis and to eliminate the possibility of polycystic ovaries. The number of potential eggs is measured to provide an indication of how many eggs you have and how active your ovaries are.
Because it cannot be seen on the scan, any possible damage to the fallopian tubes is determined with a different kind of test called an HSG that allows us to check that everything can move freely and that the tubes are not blocked, damaged or swollen.
After the physical examination and the ultrasound exam, we will do the necessary blood tests. There are two different categories of blood tests – the first are tests done in anticipation of pregnancy: an HIV and syphilis test, as well as screening for Hepatitis, German Measles immunity status and blood group.
The second category of tests are hormone tests. We check your egg reserve – or how many eggs you have left – with a blood test called an AMH. Some of the other tests include checking that the thyroid gland is not over active or under active and checking prolactin, estrogen, progesterone and testosterone levels.
At every initial consultation, we also do a sperm test. The sample is produced by masturbation either at home or at the clinic and is tested onsite at our facilities by our embryologists and andrologists.
Based on what the parameters in the sperm test tell us, we can decide whether and where we need to investigate further, or which treatment options are suitable. Here are some of the factors we look at on the semen analysis report that our lab generates.
The first thing that we look at is what is the volume of the sperm. Next, we consider the concentration of the sperm and we also look at how much sperm is in the entire sample. We then move on to motility. General motility refers to what percentage of the sperm are moving, even if they are just twitching around or swimming in circles. Progressive motility refers to the percentage of the sperm that are not just moving, but also actually making progress in its movement, moving from point A to point B. The next thing we look at is morphology, which refers to how the sperm looks. We also look at the pH of the sperm. This can give us information about what’s happening with the ejaculatory ducts – the ducts that make the fluid to support the sperm. We also look at the vitality, so how many of the sperm are alive. We might also check for antibodies, because if you have had a previous vasectomy and a reversal, there can sometimes be antibodies that might hinder the sperm from moving normally. These are routine sperm tests that we do at Cape Fertility. But thanks to our advanced facilities and technology, we are also able to do more advanced male fertility tests when necessary.
One example is DNA fragmentation, which looks at the DNA integrity of the sperm. We might recommend doing this test when the semen analysis parameters are normal, but we suspect an underlying cause of infertility. A DNA fragmentation test it is a bit more involved and it tells us how much of the sperm has intact DNA.
There is also a whole spectrum of sperm function tests that can also be done to see, for example, whether the sperm can penetrate an egg. These tests are a bit more expensive to do, and do not necessarily change the treatment recommended.
The next step is to put all the information together: the medical history of both partners, the physical examination, the ultrasound, the blood tests and the sperm tests. Once all this information is brought together, it might be clear cut where the problem is. There may also be a need to do further testing, for example, if there are issues with the sperm, some male hormone blood tests may be necessary.
Based on all of these fertility tests and years of experience, your fertility specialist will be able to recommend specific forms of treatment and explain why these are most beneficial for your infertility challenge.
If you are concerned about your fertility and are looking for the fertility tests that will give you a definite answer, we would like to invite you to set up an initial consultation with one of our fertility experts at Cape Fertility. It is as simple as contacting us here…
At Cape Fertility, we value each individual patient and we look forward to providing you with individualised and personalised care, affordable quality fertility treatment, and higher success rates at our purpose-built premises in the beautiful city of Cape Town.