These days, modern medicine and science provide us with more information than ever to help us stay on top of our health and hopefully prevent disruptive and unnecessary health conditions. Knowing the facts helps us be proactive so that we can do what we can to prevent any unexpected issues from getting out of hand.
Being proactive about our health is extremely important when it comes to fertility, mostly because of the age-related issues faced by both men and women. It’s challenging and very disheartening for those actively trying to conceive without results, especially when months turn into years of trying.
If you’re among those Americans who plan to start or grow a family this year, you may have already experienced some difficulty conceiving and have questions or concerns about your fertility. Know you’re not alone. Roughly 19% of those actively trying to conceive end up diagnosed with some degree of infertility. For females under age 35, it’s advised to seek a diagnosis after 12 months of unprotected intercourse, and for those over 35, after six months of trying unsuccessfully.
The Best Time to Check Your Fertility
Is the best time to check your fertility after months of unsuccessful attempts at conception? Maybe, but there are also advantages to checking your fertility even earlier. In fact, increasingly couples who realize they want children at some point go through fertility testing as a way to proactively identify any issues.
Most couples and individuals don’t even question their fertility until they are unable to become pregnant. For both men and women there aren’t always glaring symptoms other than months of trying to conceive with no results. Others may be already have a history of fertility-complicating issues including any of the following:
- Irregular of absent periods
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Ectopic pregnancy (tubal pregnancy)
- Recurrent miscarriage
- Autoimmune disorder
- Thyroid disease
- Cancer and/or cancer treatment
- Injury or trauma to testicles or scrotum
- Erectile dysfunction
- Inability to ejaculate
Some people want to know whether they should expect fertility issues, while others wait until they need to know. There’s really no right or wrong time, but knowing early offers significant advantages. If something is uncovered through your testing, it affords you the opportunity to address the condition and improve your odds for success when you do decide to grow your family.
If you’re postponing pregnancy a few more years, checking your fertility may help identify any potential issues that may make conception more difficult as you age, such as diminished ovarian reserve. This may help you decide to freeze your eggs so they’ll be “younger” and more viable when you do decide to have children.
The bottom line: Even if your plans aren’t immediate, the big reason to check your fertility is peace of mind. Dealing with compromised fertility ahead of time can make things a lot less stressful.
Male and Female Fertility Tests
Initial testing begins with a thorough review of your medical history and overall health. This information helps your physician determine which tests or procedures to utilize in order to check your fertility. Here are the most common tests for male and female patients.
- Blood tests screen for the presence of sexually transmitted infections such as HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, as well as other STIs. Blood tests are also necessary to determine your hormone levels that may interfere with fertility.
- Semen analysis determines the count, motility (movement) and morphology (shape) of your sperm. A semen analysis also helps identify the presence of antibodies and possible infections.
- Genetic preconception carrier screening provides your doctor with information regarding any possibility of a genetic predisposition to infertility, and any possible genetic abnormalities that may be passed on.
- Blood tests screen for STIs that may have been undiagnosed, hormone levels and other information that provides insight into possible fertility complications. Females may require periodic blood tests throughout any infertility treatment.
- Cervical screening and assessmentchecks to ensure there is no cancer or other cervical condition that might interfere with conception.
- Pelvic ultrasound is used to determine the condition of your reproductive organs and assess for endometriosis or any tubal blockages. The ultrasound also allows your doctor to assess the condition of your ovaries, follicles and ovarian reserve.
- Genetic preconception carrier screening as stated above, helps determine any genetic predisposition that impacts your fertility as well as any genetic abnormalities that may be passed on.
Depending on the results and your doctor’s findings, further testing may be recommended. For females, additional blood tests at different points in your menstrual cycle may be required to determine whether your hormonal levels are normal. Your hormone levels may also confirm polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or premature menopause. Males may also require further testing based on the semen analysis or hormone levels indicated in the initial blood test.
These are just a few examples of further testing. Every diagnosis is unique and suspected infertility could indicate the need for a variety of non-invasive and invasive procedures. Ultimately, you and your doctor make the decision together.
Halo Can Help!
While you don’t need to check your fertility until you are actively trying to conceive, some people want to know ahead of time. If you have a preexisting condition such as an autoimmune disorder like lupus, you may want to check your fertility. Or if you plan to postpone conception until you are closer to 40, you should probably get an assessment of your fertility and know your options.
For more information on the best time to check your fertility, schedule a consultation with our fertility specialists today.