Common Fertility Tests for Women
Often finding the cause of infertility in a woman can be invasive, emotional and often uncomfortable, both physically and mentally. Sometimes it can be easy to detect, however most of the time it is an involved process that takes months and sometimes years. A doctor will first do a thorough physical exam on the woman and
then will look at her present health, past medical history as well as her sexual history. Doctors need to isolate the problem and they will need to know if a problem exists such as a lack of ovulation for a woman or intercourse that is poorly timed.
The first step that needs to be taken in regards to tests for women is make sure that ovulation is occurring every month. If it is not then this could explain the problem. There is more than one way to find this out. A woman can check her ovulation at home by using a basal body temperature to make note of any changes that occur in her morning body temperature over a period of several months. Another option is to record the texture of the cervical mucus she has over a period of many months. There are also home ovulation test kits that can be purchased at grocery stores or pharmacies. A physician can also check a female patient's ovulation by way of blood tests and also if necessary, an ultrasound of the ovaries. If the patient is found to be ovulating as she is supposed to be, then other tests will need to be conducted.
The next step would be for common fertility tests to be done such as an endometrial biopsy which tests the health of the uterine lining; hormone tests which measure the balance of female hormones; measurements of how well the thyroid is functioning (a TSH or thyroid stimulating hormone level that lies somewhere between one and two is believed to be right for pregnancy to take place) and a laparoscopy which makes it possible for the doctor to clearly see all of the pelvic organs.
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Sometimes one but more often a few eggs are surgically taken from a woman's ovary and then are mixed with sperm from her partner outside of her body. The process takes place in a dish that is known as a Petri dish. The words "in vitro" are Latin for the words "in glass." The egg and sperm are left for approximately infertility specialist 40 hours and then the eggs are carefully examined to determine if they have been fertilized and if so, if they are dividing properly into cells. The fertilized eggs are now called embryos and the embryos are put back in the woman's uterus. This process helps to bypass the work of the fallopian tubes completely.
A pap smear to look for any signs that there may be an infection or cysts is a necessary diagnostic test for infertility problems. Accompanying a pap smear is usually a pelvic exam that seeks to root out an infection or any kind of abnormalities. A test that is often done for infertility is a hysterosalpingography. In this case x-rays are used in order to look for physical abnormalities that might be affecting the fallopian tubes or the uterus. A
special dye is injected into the vagina that makes its way to the uterus and this dye clearly shows up on the x-ray. This test makes it possible for the doctor to see if the dye is able to effectively move through the uterus and into the fallopian tubes. This test therefore helps locate blockages if there are any. A blockage could make it difficult for an egg to travel down the fallopian tubes (both must be checked with the dye) and to find its way to the uterus. Blockages can also prevent sperm from reaching an egg.
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