Knowing your fertility status is an important step to parenthood, but at some point, we disregard it until it becomes an issue. Studies suggest that every 8 out of 10 couples and women below 40 will conceive naturally within a year of regular unprotected sex.

What then is fertility investigation?

Fertility investigation is an evaluation test, carried out to determine the reproductive status of a patient. In some cases, the inability to conceive after a year of regular unprotected sex may steer fertility investigations or check up.

Causes of infertility

  1. Ovulation issue

Ovulation problems occur when there is a hormonal imbalance that affects normal ovulation. Primary ovarian insufficiency (also known as premature ovarian failure) may also lead to ovulation problems. However, POI is the inability of the ovaries to function properly; it prevents you from releasing eggs which may lower your chances of getting pregnant.

  • Endometriosis

Endometriosis occurs when the tissue lining the uterus dislocates and starts growing in other places such as the fallopian tubes, pelvic and ovaries which may further lead to irritations in the uterus. When this occurs, it prevents the woman from conceiving because it blocks the fallopian tube and also reduces the quality of the egg produced.

  • Old Age

Old age may sometimes affect a woman’s fertility rate. Research has shown that a woman’s fertility rate reaches its peak during her early 20s. During this age, she is faced with a lower risk of high blood pressure, gestational diabetes and other issues that may lead to complications during pregnancy.

  • Unhealthy body weight

Unhealthy body weight can reduce your chances of getting pregnant. Obese women may experience frequent miscarriage. More so, if you have an eating disorder such as anorexia, your chances of infertility may also be high.
The good thing about this is that adequate measure can be taken to ensure the body is within its normal body mass.

  • Tubal issues

Blocked fallopian tubes can prevent the sperm from getting to your eggs. Most common causes of tubal issues are sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhoea and chlamydia which may lead to the inflammation of the pelvis.

  • Fibroids

Fibroids may lead to reproductive issues, depending on the number, size and specific location of fibroids in your uterus. When this occurs, it leads to complications in the womb, at the same time, lowering your fertility rate.

When should you see the doctor?

You should consider carrying out fertility investigation when the following eventuate:

– inability to conceive after one year of unprotected sex
-irregular menstrual cycle
– if you are more than 35 years of age
– if you have any reason to be concerned about your fertility.

Questions to expect during your first visit

Your first visit to see a fertility specialist will always involve a detailed compilation of your medical history and physical examination. You and your partner will be interrogated on the following :

  • Birth pattern and defects in your family
  • Past pregnancies, miscarriages, and outcome
  • Alcohol and tobacco intake
  • Illness, sexually transmitted infections and surgeries
  • You will also be asked the following questions regarding your sexual history.
  • How long you have been trying to get pregnant
  • Birth control method and contraceptives
  • Type of lubrication used during sex
  • Past sexual relationships

Physical examination
If you are a woman, the following physical examinations may take place

  • Examine your pelvic area to check for infections which could be symptoms for PIDs( pelvic inflammatory disease), fibroids or endometriosis.
  • If you are a man, your health provider may also check the following:
    -Testicles for any form of deformity
    -Penis for any form of abnormalities in the shape and structure.

Fertility checks  for women

1. Chlamydia and gonorrhoea test: Since gonorrhoea and chlamydia can lead to the inflammation of the pelvis and the uterine area, a swab will be used to collect some cells from your cervix and used to run a test on you.

2. Ultrasound scan: The ultrasound scan is used to check for all sort of abnormalities in the fallopian tube, ovaries, and the womb. If the scan suggests any form of blockage in the womb and ovaries, your doctor may refer you to a specialist for further check-ups. This checkup may be referred to as laparoscopy.

3. X-ray:  The x-ray can be used to detect any form of blockage in the womb and fallopian tube. The blockage can be seen after a special dye has been injected on you.

4. Laparoscopy: Laparoscopy is majorly used when your scan result reveals a possible blockage in the womb. It involves making a small hole in your lower tummy so that a thin tube with a back camera can be inserted in your tummy.