It is hard when you have been trying for a baby and time seems to be passing by without getting pregnant. Around 1 in 6 heterosexual couples may experience infertility. But 85% of couples will conceive a child naturally after one year of trying. ‘Trying' means having regular unprotected sex every 2 to 3 days.
There are a number of tests for both men and women which can be taken to help identify issues which will hopefully provide a path forward for you.
Low sperm counts, poor quality sperm or both are believed to be the reason for 90% of male infertility causes. Other reasons include genetic issues, possible hormonal imbalances or anatomical issues as well as unexplained reasons which may be caused by an infection which interfere with sperm health.
Sperm takes around 74 days to mature and then around 20 additional days to become capable of fertilisation. This means this is a three month process.
It is often possible to improve sperm count by having a good diet and a healthy lifestyle. Where your diet is lacking, taking key nutrients can enhance your everyday diet and help when trying for a baby.
If you believe there may be an issue with sperm production or quality, it is a good idea to get a semen analysis.
This test will give information on Sperm Count, Sperm Motility (how the sperm swims) and Sperm Morphology (the shape of the sperm). A sperm sample is needed and the sperm analysis should take place within two hours of collection in the clinic/relevant doctor surgery.
SPERM DNA FRAGMENTATION TEST
This test concerns the DNA integrity within the sperm, which is important for the success of both natural and assisted pregnancy. It determines the fertility potential of the sperm sample.
MALE HORMONE PROFILE
The testosterone test checks the level of androgen (which support the production of sperm) in the blood. It will indicate if there is a possible hormonal causes of infertility.
This blood test exams the male chromosome to see if there are any chromosome abnormalities and genetic disease.
Y CHROMOSOME MICRODELETIONS
If portions of the Y chromosome DNA are deleted or missing, this can affect male fertility. If any portion is absent it may help predict the ability to generate sperm in the testicles.
In women, the main issues they face relate to ovulation. Are you ovulating regularly and are your eggs healthy? And to the fallopian tubes, are your fallopian tubes open?
Luckily, there are a number of tests which can be taken which will help clarify your next steps when trying for a baby.
FEMALE FERTILITY HORMONE TEST
Blood tests are taken and will help give your fertility levels. They look at hormonal issues and assess ovary health. Your medical professional will explain what day in the cycle these tests should be taken (usually early in the cycle).
Typically on day 21, the measurement of serum progesterone can be checked to assess ovulatory status.
This test uses vaginal ultrasound scans to monitor follicle growth and predict ovulation.
ANTRAL FOLLICLE COUNT
These small follicles are a measure of ovarian activity. Counted via vaginal ultrasound, they give the strongest indicator of the ovaries’ capacity to develop egg cells. This can help when looking at the possible reaction to ovarian stimulation drugs and the possibility of a successful pregnancy via IVF.
A HyCoSy is a hysterosalpingo-contrast-ultrasound. This is a special type of ultrasound scan. Fluid is injected into your cervix (the neck of your womb) to check for any blockages in your fallopian tubes.
Results from this test can indicate whether a chromosome-related defect is preventing pregnancy or causing miscarriages.