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Infertility Testing

If you are having trouble getting pregnant, infertility testing can help you and your partner discover why this is happening. In men, infertility testing focuses on the number and health of the sperm being produced. In women, testing looks at whether a woman is ovulating each month. If a woman is ovulating and still having trouble conceiving, further tests can be performed, such as a laparoscopy.

An Overview of Infertility Testing

If you have been trying to have a baby without success, you may want to seek medical help to find out the cause of your infertility. Usually, this infertility evaluation process begins with physical exams and medical and sexual histories of both partners. If there is no obvious problem, like improperly timed intercourse or absence of ovulation, infertility tests may be needed.
Many people wonder what "without success" means. You should talk to your healthcare provider about fertility testing if you are:
  • Under age 35 and, after a year of frequent sex without birth control, you are having problems getting pregnant
  • Age 35 or over and, after six months of frequent sex without birth control, you are having problems getting pregnant
  • Believe you or your partner might have fertility problems in the future (even before you begin trying to get pregnant).

Male Infertility Testing

Infertility testing on the man focuses on the number and health of his sperm. The lab will look at a sample of his sperm under a microscope to check sperm number, shape, and movement. Blood tests can also be done to check hormone levels. More tests might be needed to look for infection or problems with hormones. These tests can include:
  • An x-ray (to look at his reproductive organs)
  • A mucus penetrance test (to see if sperm can swim through mucus)
  • A hamster-egg penetrance assay (to see if sperm can go through hamster egg cells, somewhat showing their power to fertilize human eggs).
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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