Investigation of Infertility
In Australia one in six couples deal with infertility. You need to seek medical assistance if you have been having unprotected intercourse for one year and have been unable to conceive.
At what stage should we consider ourselves infertile?
In Australia one in six couples deal with infertility. You need to seek medical assistance if you have been having unprotected intercourse for one year. This means you have met the clinical definition of infertility. However, if you are over 35 you should see Dr Kliman after six months of trying to conceive as your window for successful conceiving is reducing. If you have a past history of infertility or gynaecological problems such as endometriosis, fibroids, pelvic inflammatory disease, irregular or absent periods or painful periods you should seek assistance earlier.
What to expect at your appointment?
When you see Dr Kliman he will ask you about your medical history, in particular details about your menstrual cycle, reproductive history, any underlying medical conditions and any previous illnesses or surgery that may be affecting your fertility. As well as obtaining information regarding your personal history some medical tests will be ordered to try and determine what the potential problem may be. Blood tests will include investigations to see if you are ovulating and a thyroid function test. A pelvic ultrasound and tubal patency ultrasound will show tubal obstructions, structural abnormalities or possible signs of endometriosis or adhesions, in which instance you may require surgical treatment. A semen analysis on your partner is also necessary to ensure his sperm are healthy, motile and normal. If male infertility turns out to be a factor your partner may be referred to an andrologist (semen analysis specialist). If blood tests show that you are not ovulating, medication may be recommended. The dose can be altered according to future blood test results.
There are many possible factors for infertility that include lack of ovulation, premature ovarian insufficiency (early menopause) anatomical problems such as non-patent fallopian tubes or a problem with male sperm. In many instances there is no obvious reason for infertility in a couple – this is called unexplained infertility.
Results and next steps?
Once all of your test results are back, depending on the problem, treatment will be organised and options discussed. If tests suggest you are not ovulating this is often amenable to treatment with medication to induce ovulation. Progesterone levels are checked via blood tests and are done at a particular time during the cycle to assess if you are ovulating. Sometimes a surgical procedure such as a laparoscopy, hysteroscopy and D&C may be necessary in order to assess the pelvis and uterus. A management plan will be indicated depending on all of the information following consultation and test results. If assisted fertility such as IVF is required appropriate referral will be made.
If referral to an IVF Specialist is warranted, Dr Kliman will refer you to the appropriate Specialist for your individual situation.
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