Most people will visit their GP (general practitioner, primary care physician) if there is no pregnancy after 12 months of trying. For anybody who is concerned about fertility, especially if they are older (women over 35), it might be a good idea to see a doctor earlier. As fertility testing can sometimes take a long time, and female fertility starts to drop when a woman is in her thirties, seeing the doctor earlier on if you are over 35 makes sense.
A GP can give the patient advice and carry out some preliminary assessments. As it takes two to make a baby it is better for both the male and female to see the doctor together.
Before undergoing testing for fertility it is important that the couple be committed. The doctor will need to know what the patients’ sexual habits are and may make recommendations regarding them. Tests and trials might extend over a long period. Even after thorough testing, no specific cause is ever found for 30% of infertility cases.
In some countries where universal healthcare cover does not exist, evaluation and eventual treatment may be expensive.
Tests for Males
- General physical exam – the doctor will ask the man about his medical history, medications, and sexual habits. The physician will also carry out an examination of his genitals. The testicles will be checked for lumps or deformities, while the shape and structure of the penis will be examined for any abnormalities.
- Semen analysis – the doctor may ask for some specimens of semen. They will be analyzed in a laboratory for sperm concentration, motility, color, quality, infections and whether any blood is present. As sperm counts can fluctuate, the man may have to produce more samples.
- Blood test – the lab will test for several things, including the man’s level of testosterone and other male hormones.
- Ultrasound test – the doctor will determine whether there is any ejaculatory duct obstruction, retrograde ejaculation or other abnormality.
- Chlamydia test – if the man is found to have Chlamydia, which can affect fertility, he will be prescribed antibiotics to treat it.