Methods of Evaluating Infertility

Infertility can be caused by a variety of conditions. Both male and female partners require thorough medical examinations to determine treatment options. At Emory Reproductive Center, we have a variety of ways to evaluate fertility.

Methods of evaluating female infertility include the following:

  • Basal Body Temperature Monitoring (BBT) — The purpose of BBT is to monitor the early morning resting body temperature changes. Women experience a rise in body temperature after ovulation. Daily monitoring can be used to document that ovulation has occurred.
  • Ovulation Prediction — Luteinizing hormone (LH) is the hormone that triggers the release of the egg from the follicle. Ovulation prediction kits can be used to time intercourse. It has largely replaced BBT monitoring.
  • Estradiol — Estradiol is released by the developing follicle. As more follicles develop, estradiol levels increase. Low levels of estradiol may indicate that the follicle does not contain a healthy egg.
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) Assay — FSH is a hormone responsible for the development of the egg. FSH is measured between day 2 and day 5 of the menstrual cycle. An elevated FSH is associated with a lower chance of pregnancy.
  • Progesterone — Progesterone is a female hormone produced after ovulation. Blood is drawn 4-9 days after predicted ovulation to determine if ovulation has occurred.
  • Imaging of the the uterus — Various techniques are used to detect uterine conditions that affect fertility, including:
    --Sonohysterography: A technique for examining the inside lining of the uterus, sonohysterography can be used to evaluate abnormal bleeding, recurrent pregnancy loss, polyps and fibroids.
    --Ultrasound: Ultrasonography is commonly used to monitor follicular development and visually confirm that the egg is being released from the follicle in addition to its use to monitor fetal development.
    --Hysterosalpingogram (HSG): HSG, an X-ray examination used to outline the inside of the uterus and tehe Fallopian tubes, is usually done to verify that the fallopian tubes are open.
  • Laparoscopy — Laparoscopy is a surgical outpatient procedure that allows the physician to diagnose and treat pelvic disorders, such as endometriosis. The physician can determine if tubes are open, scarring is present, or if there are uterine abnormalities.
  • Hysteroscopy — Hysteroscopy, which is used to examine the inside of the uterus, can assist in the diagnosis of abnormal uterine conditions such as internal fibroid tumors, scarring, polyps, and congenital malformations.

Methods of evaluating male infertility include the following:

  • Semen Analysis — The semen analysis is one of the first tests ordered in the infertility evaluation. A sperm sample is obtained to determine the concentration, the shape and the ability of the sperm to swim in straight lines.
  • Sperm Antibodies — These antibodies incapacitate the sperm before it can pass through the cervix and reach the egg, or they may impair fertilization of the egg.

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