Infertility is the inability to conceive naturally after a minimum of 12 months of planned and unprotected intercourse (6 months if the women’s age is above 35).
Female infertility tests help in diagnosing the cause of infertility and in treating them appropriately. While there are multiple infertility tests available, starting with the non-invasive ones is a good idea.
What are the common risk factors for infertility?
The following factors can aggravate the risk of infertility in women.
- Age (women above 35 years are at higher risk).
- Lifestyle habits (alcoholism, substance abuse, excessive smoking, etc.).
- Weight issues (underweight and obesity).
- Mental disorders such as stress and depression.
- Underlying health issues such as sexually transmitted diseases, diabetes, thyroid issues, etc.
- Women undergoing treatments like radiation therapy for cancer are at a higher risk of infertility.
Causes of Female Infertility
The most important cause of infertility in women is related to ovulation. Other common reasons are damage to the fallopian tube or uterus and cervical problems. Different female infertility tests can be done to diagnose these conditions.
Problems Related to Ovulation
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): Women with PCOS experience erratic or prolonged menstrual periods. The ovaries develop numerous follicles and refuse to release eggs regularly. The hormonal imbalance caused by PCOS can lead to female infertility. PCOS is also associated with insulin resistance and obesity.
Premature Ovarian Failure: Premature ovarian failure can be caused by two main reasons, early loss of eggs due to a genetic condition or chemotherapy or an autoimmune response. The condition can occur as early as 40 years of age.
Thyroid Malfunctioning: The pituitary gland of the thyroid system produces two hormones that stimulate the ovary every month. The two hormones are Follicle-stimulating hormone and Luteinizing hormone (LH). Insufficient production of the hormones leads to infertility in women. Stress, obesity, physical strain, and substantial weight loss can affect hormone production.
Excess Prolactin (hyperprolactinemia): Prolactin is one of the hormones produced by the pituitary gland. Excess production of prolactin can cease menstruation or cause irregular menstruation. High levels of prolactin can also cause lowered progesterone levels in some women.
Problems Related to the Fallopian Tube and Uterus
The fallopian tubes connect the ovaries to the womb. Damaged fallopian tubes can be due to the following reasons.
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (infection of the upper genital tract).
- Scarring of the fallopian tubes due to surgeries.
- Fibroids can block the fallopian tube and prevent the fertilized egg from attaching itself to the womb.
- An abnormally shaped uterus.
- Congenital disabilities in the fallopian tubes and uterus.
Female infertility tests can be used to detect the exact reason behind the damage.
Problems Related to Cervix
During ovulation, the cervical mucus is thinner to enable the sperm to swim efficiently. Abnormal cervical mucus can stop the sperm from reaching and fertilizing the egg. Damage to the cervix during surgery or due to hereditary reasons can cause cervical stenosis, which is another cause of infertility.
Signs and Symptoms of Female Infertility?
Inability to conceive naturally is the main symptom of female infertility. A woman with infertility problems may have irregular, painful, or absent periods. Experiencing multiple miscarriages are another critical warning sign of infertility.
Lab Tests for Female Infertility
If you are going through any of the above symptoms for a prolonged period, it is time to consider female infertility tests. Female infertility treatment involves a few tests and examinations.
The first step is an open discussion with your doctor. The doctor may pose questions about your medical history, ongoing treatments, symptoms, use of birth control techniques in the past, and lifestyle practices. The next important step is to get the female infertility tests done with a reliable source. The most significant lab tests for female infertility are,
FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) Testing
Purpose: FSH controls the menstrual cycle and regulates the growth of follicles in the ovary. The test is done to evaluate the supply of eggs and ovarian function.
Procedure: The blood test can be done on the second or third day of your menstrual cycle.
Purpose: The test measures the circulating levels of estradiol in the body. High levels of estradiol indicate an issue with the ovarian reserve and a suppressing effect on the FSH. Low levels of estradiol may be indicative of PCOS or hypopituitarism.
Procedure: The blood test can be taken on any day during the menstrual cycle.
Purpose: A luteinizing hormone test is done to track issues with the pituitary gland. The tests may have to be repeated to map the time when the egg is released.
Procedure: While there are at-home LH tests available through drug stores, the accuracy of the test is optimal when taken with the help of professionals.
Purpose: DHEA is a hormone secreted by the adrenal glands. It is a precursor to hormones such as testosterone and estrogen. Low levels of DHEA are associated with lowered ovarian reserve and infertility. The test is used in the diagnosis of hirsute or virilized female patients and as well as adrenal tumor.
Procedure: A conventional blood test that can be done with experienced lab technicians.
Apart from female infertility tests that involve blood work, physical examination of the patients and ultrasounds tests are also done. The tests provide further information about the uterus, endometrial lining, and ovaries.
Irregular uterine shape, a more in-depth evaluation of the ovarian reserve, etc., can be determined through the tests.
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine states that infertility can affect men as much as it can affect women and therefore suggests that both partners should be tested. Visit your doctor with your partner and consider taking male infertility tests such as semen analysis, testosterone testing, etc.
Based on the above tests, the doctor will be able to diagnose the main reason behind infertility. The accuracy of these tests is very critical because they form the basis for the next steps.
Order Your Tests from Ulta Lab Tests
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