The Importance of the Right Fertility Tests
The majority of couples struggling with infertility have an underlying medical condition that, once accurately diagnosed, can be treated effectively. The challenge is pinpointing the specific cause of the fertility challenges in each unique couple, because there are a great many possible causes of infertility, which can affect the female partner, the male partner and – in many cases – both partners.
Identifying the exact cause of the fertility challenge you face as a couple is crucial, because only then can the correct treatment be recommended. Fortunately, there are a number thorough and advanced fertility tests that, in the hands of experts, can accurately identify your specific fertility challenge and reveal the most effective treatment for you.
There are a great number of possible medical causes of infertility. Pinpointing the exact cause of your infertility as a couple is crucial, because only with a correct diagnosis can the correct treatment can be selected.
The conditions that could result in infertility in the female partner include for example advanced age, endometriosis or ovulation problems. It may also be that a woman’s ovaries have been removed surgically or that she has undergone chemotherapy and her ovaries are not functioning. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is another medical condition that is a known cause of infertility.
In men, infertility is most commonly linked to sperm disorders, but can also be the result of injury, hormonal problems, lifestyle factors and the treatment of diseases such as cancer.
Approximately one-third of infertility is attributed to the female partner, one-third attributed to the male partner and one-third is caused by a combination of problems in both partners, or is unexplained.
These many possibilities make it crucial to pinpoint the exact cause of your challenges as a couple, so that the right treatment can be selected.
Fortunately, there are many thorough and advanced fertility tests, which we briefly overview below, that – in the hands of experts – can lead to the correct diagnosis and treatment, and a successful pregnancy.
Is it hard to have fertility tests?
In a recent article in TIME magazine, “Why it’s so hard to have your fertility tested” experts point out that there is an extensive range of tests that can be performed to identify the many possible causes of infertility.
This means that there isn’t a single test that can accurately predict fertility for a couple or even an individual. Nor is it a merely a matter of running all kinds of tests – that would be incredibly time-intensive, enormously expensive, and extremely invasive. Certainly, not all couples will need to undergo all the different tests. In addition, the result of any single test is not an accurate predictor of a future pregnancy – the results of a test or series of tests must be interpreted in the context of the couple’s unique health condition.
In fact, to provide maximum value, fertility testing should be co-ordinated by a registered and accredited fertility expert with extensive relevant experience and access to state-of-the-art technology, who will conduct a thorough investigation within the contact of your full medical history and other health assessments, to pinpoint the correct tests to be done for each partner.
Professional fertility testing in Cape Town
Fortunately, South Africans have access to world-class fertility testing in Cape Town. When you come to see us for the first time at Cape Fertility, our expert fertility specialists, based on their years of experience, will help you identify the tests most relevant to pinpointing your fertility challenges.
First, your fertility specialist will review your and your partner’s medical history, considering:
* your families’ medical histories
* any previous pregnancies or miscarriages
* previous or current medical treatments
* underlying medical problems
* surgeries, such as the removal of tubes or cysts,
* pregnancies in the tubes,
* bad infections such as STDs (sexually transmitted diseases)
* sugar levels
* insulin levels
* cholesterol levels.
Next, your fertility specialist will also ask about your social life to identify specific issues that can affect fertility:
* where you work
* what you do
* the kind of stresses you have in your life
* lifestyle choices such as drinking, smoking or using recreational drugs.
For women, the next step is an examination similar to a normal gynaecological examination and includes:
* a pap smear to check cervical health
* an internal examination to check the uterus and each ovary
* an internal ultrasound exam to check the uterus lining
* looking for scar tissue, polyps or fibroids that need to be removed
* checking for endometriosis and polycystic ovaries
* measuring ovarian reserve and activity.
A different kind of test, called an HSG test, is used to determine damage to the fallopian tubes and ensure the tubes are not blocked, damaged or swollen.
The necessary blood tests are also done:
* an HIV and syphilis test
* screening for Hepatitis, German Measles immunity status and blood group
* a blood test called an AMH
* thyroid gland test
* hormone levels including prolactin, estrogen, progesterone and testosterone.
For the male partner, a sperm test is conducted to determine:
* how the sperm looks
* the volume of the sperm
* the concentration of the sperm
* the pH of the sperm
* how much sperm is in the entire sample
* the percentage of the sperm that are moving
* the percentage of the sperm making progress in movement
* the condition of the ejaculatory ducts
* the presence of antibodies in the sperm.
Based on the parameters in the sperm test, your fertility specialist can decide whether and where to investigate further, or which treatment options are suitable.
Thanks to our advanced facilities and technology at Cape Fertility, we are also able to do more advanced male fertility tests when necessary.
These include, for example, 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.
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 specific infertility challenge.
Where to get fertility testing in Cape Town
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.