Fertility Next Steps: Additional Testing for Women

What Can Additional Testing Tell Me?

If you’re experiencing difficulty conceiving, the thought of seeking help can be overwhelming. However, diagnostic testing is the first step toward identifying any fertility problems you may be experiencing. Once you’ve identified the root causes, you can begin to explore all of the available treatment options.

These tests can confirm that you’ve ovulated in your current cycle and predict when you’ll begin ovulating next. They can also evaluate important reproductive functions, like an ovarian reserve, which is your body’s ability to produce quality eggs. Finally, they can determine whether your uterus is receptive to a pregnancy.

Ovulation Testing

Ovulation tests establish several important pieces of the fertility puzzle. Some ovulation tracking can be done at home, like using Basal Body Temperature Charts to keep track of temperature throughout your cycle. Your basal, or resting, body temperature is taken when you wake in the morning, and it fluctuates with the phases of your cycle. Tracking this can help to identify whether you’re ovulating regularly.

Predictor kits can also be used to anticipate when you’ll ovulate next. These kits work by measuring the LH levels in your urine.

If these tools aren’t effective for you, blood testing can confirm both LH and estrogen levels. Additionally, ultrasounds can measure follicular growth. These tests can be performed by a medical professional specialized in fertility.

Ovarian Function Tests

Ovulation isn’t the only thing that can cause your difficult conceiving. The quality of your eggs and their ability to develop further is also an important aspect of fertility. These tests can help determine whether your fertility problems are caused by egg development.

Day 3 FSH. FSH is a hormone that’s directly related to the production and development of eggs. This test is taken on the third day of your menstrual cycle and measures levels of FSH in your blood.

Day 3 Estradiol Test. This test measures estrogen level in your blood. Excessive levels of estrogen can cause diminished egg quality. Like the FSH test, it’s performed on the third day of your cycle.

Inhibin B Levels Test. This blood test measures whether your body is producing enough inhibin B.

Ultrasounds. Ultrasounds can also be used to confirm ovulation. Most often, this is done following the LH surge.

Luteal Phase Tests

Luteal phase defects are caused by disruptions to the later half of your cycle, and they can contribute to fertility problems. This phase occurs after ovulation but before your next period starts. Your uterine lining thickens in anticipation of implantation. Various blood tests can be used to measure hormone levels, and they’re among least invasive luteal phase tests available. During the luteal phase, your physician might also want to perform a plasma progesterone test, which is another type of blood test.

Additionally, your physician might recommend an endometrial biopsy. This test is performed in the last week of your cycle. A piece of tissue will be taken from your uterine lining during the procedure, and then it’s examined for thickness. The thin lining can interfere with the ability of fertilized embryos to implant in the uterine wall.

Cervical Mucus Evaluation

Following intercourse, cervical mucus can be evaluated for live sperm and their motility. This test is usually performed in the middle of your cycle.

Talk to your doctor about which of these tests might be appropriate for your fertility concerns. He or she can guide you through the process, help you make decisions based on the results, and recommend any follow-up testing or procedures.